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Elephanta Caves, the most prominent attractions of Maharashtra, are situated near Mumbai. The caves are merely 10 kilometers off the Gateway of India. These caves house several exquisite rock-cut temples. The name of the island – Elephanta caves is so because a statue of elephant is situated near it. The Portuguese had named it as Elephanta.
Inside the Elephanta Caves
The temples that these caves house are carved out of rock. The images, columns and spaces in these temples are a treat for the eyes of the beholder. A walk through the chambers of the beautifully sculptured temples is truly a rewarding experience. Several rocks had to removed in order to carve out this structure. The whole of the complex has an interesting architecture with a mix of both finished and unfinished rock surfaces.
The Elephanta Caves cover an area as vast as 60,000 square feet. The temples inside the complex have a main chamber, smaller shrines and corridors. Above the temple is placed a huge natural rock. The temple has a total of three entrance gates. The axis of the temple is marked by gates on the east and the west. Additionally, the caves house a hall which has 20 pillars.
A beautifully sculpted out image of Lord Shiva is placed inside the temple. The image is that of the three-headed Shiva (trimurthy) and is 20 feet in height. Considered a masterpiece, the image represents panchmukha (five-faced) Shiva with only three faces visible on the wall. When a pilgrim enters the temple from the North, the image is sure to draw the attention. Apart from this, images displayed on the other walls of the temple include those of Natraja, ,Kalyanasundara, Ravanaanugrahamurthy, Ardhanariswara, Yogiswara, Uma Maheswara and Gangadhara.