The choice of the themes in Elephanta's panels is an interesting mix... anything from love to contemplation to violence to performing arts to yoga. In Elephanta you'll see some of the highest watermarks of medieval India's sculptural art.

Apart from the cave architecture of medieval India, a major highlight of the Elephanta tour is the massive rock cut sculptures. Elephanta's sculptural art is executed on the walls of the caves as expansive panels, mostly associated with mythology associated with Lord Shiva.

The followings are from the Main Cave (Cave 1) of Elephanta.

Slaying of Andhakasura  : Depicting Shiva slaying a demon called Andhaka. One of the most animated panels in Elephanta. Shiva is represented with eight arms in this panel.

Kalyana Sundara : The more humanly theme of marriage depicted in this panel. Arguably, Parvathi is portrayed superbly than Shiva in this panel, with her her head slightly tilted towards him with a hint of coyness.

Shiva-Parvathi : One of the highly damaged panels in Elephanta. This depicts Shiva and Parvathi engaged in a game of dice. The divine couple tries to cheat each other in the game as much as possible, though Shiva loses in all the games. Shiva loses everything, the trident,moon, earrings, snake and even the loincloth.  The mythology is associated with a complex philosophy.

Nataraja  : Nataraja, literally translate as the king/lord of dance.

In mythology Shiva is considered as the cosmic dancer, who performs his divine dance to destroy the weary universe.

Ravana Shaking Kailasa  : Ravana, unsuccessfully tries to lift Kailash, the adobe of Shiva. There are popular mythical stories associated with the Demon king Ravana, the lord of Lanka and Lord Shiva.

Mahayogi Shiva  : A rare posture of Shiva meditating on a lotus. Considered as the aadiyogi ( or the first guru of Yoga) by the Yoga tradition,  Shiva is depicted as the original master of yoga.

Gangadhara: The story depicting Shiva bringing River Ganga to earth. The fall of the river is so powerful that Shiva has to make it fall on his matted hair first, before it further descends.

Mahesh Murthy : The three headed iconic image representing three aspects of Shiva. The masterpiece image of Elephanta. It's debatable to find a more spectacular sculptural expression created during or after the medieval period in India.

Ardhanarishvara : Probably the most mystical theme to narrate. Shiva and Parvathi as a single body, depicting the complex philosophical theme of male-female energy of the universe.

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Andhakasura Vadha Murthi

Andhakasura Vadha Murthi

The ferocious expression of Shiva in the Andhakasura Vadha panel stands in stark contrast with the aspects depicted in other panels.

Everything about Elephanta!

The choice of the themes in Elephanta's panels is an interesting mix... anything from love to contemplation to violence to performing arts to yoga. In Elephanta you'll see some of the highest watermarks of medieval India's sculptural art.

Elephanta Cave 4

This cave has a large open verandah with a massive unsupported rock formation overhanging above.There is a beautiful doorjamb carved around the entrance to the main shrine at the center.

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Marriage of Shiva and Parvati

Kalyana Sundara at Elephanta

The circumstances leading the marriage of Shiva and Parvati is a significant episode in the Hindu mythology.After the death of his first wife Sati, Shiva withdrew into an ascetic lifestyle, deep meditation and austerities.

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Ferry returning to Mumbai from Elephanta. The Elephanta Island in the backdrop.

How to reach Elephanta Caves

Elephanta is an island off the Mumbai (Bombay) coast.So the first point is to get to Mumbai.

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Shiva-Parvati of Elephanta

Shiva-Parvathi at Elephanta

In this panel Parvathi, the consort of Lord Shiva is portrayed in a affectionate but somewhat upset mood.Her head is turned away from Shiva.The theme revolves around a game of dice the couple played.

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Museum in Elephanta

Elephanta Museum

Elephanta has a small site museum.The museum resembles more of an old house with terracotta roof.

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Gangadhara and Parvathi

Gangadhara at Elephanta

Gangadhara, roughly translates the 'Bearer of the Ganges'.A complex sequence of events led to bringing the heavenly river Ganga (Ganges) to Earth.

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Entrance to the cave 3 in Elephanta

Elephanta Caves

The name, Elephanta was given by the Portuguese as there was a large elephant sculpture in the island, when it was held by them as a naval outpost.Otherwise this island was known as Gharapuri.

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