Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai Harbour - Informative & researched article on Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai Harbour
 Indianetzone: Largest Free Encyclopedia of India with thousand of articlesGeography of India

 Art & Culture|Entertainment|Health|Reference|Sports|Society|Travel
Forum  | Free E-magazine  | RSS Feeds  
History of India|Indian Temples|Indian Museums|Indian Literature|Geography of India|Flora & Fauna|Indian Purans|Indian Philosophy|Indian Administration|Indian Languages|Education
Home > Reference > Geography of India > Indian Islands > Elephanta Island
Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai Harbour
Elephanta Islands or Gharapuri Island is one of the numbers of islands in Mumbai Harbour of Maharashtra.
 Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai HarbourElephanta Island, also called `Gharapuri Island` or `place of caves` is one of a number of islands in Mumbai Harbour, lying east of Mumbai in India. Elephanta Island is a popular tourist destination. It features seven decorative cave temples called the `Elephanta Caves` that are carved out of rock.

History of Elephanta Island
In the ancient times, Elephanta was known as Gharapuri. The present name Elephanta was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers. They gave the name after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here near the entrance.

The explorers decided to take the sculpture home but they dropped it into the sea because their chains were not strong enough. Later, this sculpture was moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum (now Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum) in Mumbai, by the British.

Architecture of Elephanta Island Caves
Elephanta Island comprises of several caves that one can explore. The caves are divided into two groups. The first group consists of Stupa Hill which is situated in the east. It contains two caves, one of which is undeveloped. The second group is present in the west and comprises of five rock-cut Hindu shrines. The main cave is popular for its beautiful carvings to the glory of Shiva, who is exalted in various forms. The cave consists of a square plan mandapa whose sides measure about 27 m. The walls of the mandapa are adorned with pictures of Shiva.

Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai Harbour The interior is divided up into smaller areas by rows of supports. The whole shape looks like a building; false profiled beams have been carved in the roof of the cave and the supports.

At the very entrance to the cave, to the north of an esplanade reached by a steep flight of steps, one will find two large carved panels depicting, on the left, Shiva Yogisvara and, on the right, Shiva Nataraja, both treated in a monumental style. In a chapel on the right of the entrance stands the cylindrical lingam, which is regarded as the symbol of the Supreme Being and principle of all energy. The chapel has four doors, each flanked by colossal figures of dvarapala.

Opposite the entrance, on the south wall, is the famous three-headed bust of the Mahadeva, whose three faces are the incarnation of three essential functions; to the east, Aghora or Bhairava, terrifying destroyer; to the west, Vamadeva, creator of joy and beauty, incarnated by a woman`s head; and in the centre, Tatpurusha, master of positive and negative principles of existence and preserver of their harmony.

Connectivity of Elephanta Island
The Elephanta Island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai, being about 10 km from the south east coast of the island city. Boats leave daily from the Gateway of India and take about an hour each way for the journey. From the boat landing stage on the Elephanta Island, a walkway leads to steps that go up to the famous caves.

Along the path, several hawkers sell mementos, paintings etc that can be possessed at a reasonable price. There are also stalls to buy food and drinks in the Elephanta Island.

(Last Updated on : 04/01/2014)
Recently Updated Articles in Geography of India
Abi Gamin
Situated in the district of Chamoli in Utarakhand, Abu Gamin peak is located at a height of 7,355 metres (24,131 feet).
Balakun Peak
The Balakun of Uttarakhand is one of the beautiful snow clad Himalayan peaks in India.
Chitrakuta Hill
Chitrakuta hill is defined as an isolated hill situated on a river called the Pisani. It means the Hill of many wonders.
Kumara Hills
Kumara hills are situated on the boundary line between the Dakshina Kannada district and the Kodagu district. The hills are often referred to as a trekker`s paradise.
Veeramala Hills
Veeramala hills located in Cheruvathur in Kasargod district of Kerala is an ideal place for picnic.
E-mail this Article | Post a Comment
Forum on Geography of India
Free E-magazine
Subscribe to Free E-Magazine on Reference
Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai Harbour - Informative & researched article on Elephanta Island, Islands of Mumbai Harbour
Contact Us   |   RSS Feeds
Copyright © 2008 Jupiter Infomedia Ltd. All rights reserved including the right to reproduce the contents in whole or in part in any form or medium without the express written permission of
Jupiter Infomedia Ltd.