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Elephanta Island
Mumbai and surrounding
Archeology, Civilization history,  Monuments, Sculptures,  Islands
Archeology, Civilization history, 
Monuments, Sculptures, 

When traveling to Mumbai, remember to visit Elephanta Island. It is also called Gharapuri Island. This piece of land in the haven of Mumbai is famous for the caves with the images of Shiva and the complex of temples carved in basalt rock. The temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A trip to Elephanta may become one of the most intriguing dates in your romance with the city.

The island, which has been called Gharapuri from ancient times, got the name of Elephanta from Portuguese sailors in the 16th century. One of the island finds, a massive stone statue of an elephant, found at the entrance to the temples, inspired the name. Today, the guests can «rediscover» this statue at the entrance of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai.

The island houses two groups of cave temple complexes. However, archaeologists can’t determine the century of their origin. The assumptions vary between the 4th and 7th centuries.

The major part of the temples is located on the east of the island and is devoted to Hindu gods, mostly to Shiva. The second complex occupies the top of the hill from the western part of the island and consists of two Buddhist cave temples. Inside those temples, there were frescoes but they didn’t survive to our day. And what about the elephants that played a special part in the history of the island? In fact, Elephanta no longer has any carved figures of the elephants, except for an elephant’s head of a popular Hindu god.

From the entrance to the caves, the guests are stunned by the sizes, inner details, and undamaged condition of the shrine. However, many things may bewilder a western traveler. In this case, the monument guides come in handy: they can explain the meaning of each part of the temple in detail right on the spot.

Don’t be intimidated by the hot weather on the day of your trip. Inside the island caves, in an open ocean breeze, it is much cooler than outside.

Address: Elephanta Island

Published by

Diane Mikheeva

All content and media files are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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