Elephanta Offers the Best in Hindu Tradition

July 18, 2011
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The island of Elephanta offers the epitome of Hindu cave culture and nature travel. Even its name refers to the rock art practiced by people as far back as the 6th century. When Portugese navigators landed on the island, they found a massive stone elephant commonly called Gharapuri, which is an alternate name for the island, according to UNESCO.

Just a few miles from Mumbai, the "City of Caves," a World Heritage Site, holds seven caves with some of the greatest rock-art in all of India.

To the east there is Stupa Hill, which contains two caves, several cisterns and a small brick Buddhist monument. To the west is five Hindu shrines representing the evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture, according to the Archeological Survey of India. Cave 1 is also famous for its carvings that glorify Lord Shiva and six rows of pillared columns found in bonded stone architecture.

Walking in, visitors are greeted by two massive carved panels depicting Shivas - on the left, Shiva Yogisvara, the Master of Yoga, and on the right, Shiva Nataraja, King of Dance. Archeologists identify the monumental style of the shrines as close to those of the Gupta period.


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