Nataraja Panel is located at the entry point of the main cave, opposite to the Mahayogi Shiva at Elephanta. After the three panels (Gangadhara at Elephanta , Mahesh Murthy at Elephanta and Ardhanarishvara at Elephanta ) which are located in the deep wall of the cave, this is the most dynamic of all the panels of Elephanta.

As it is located right next to the portico, it is well illuminated by natural light. Natraj , the king of dancers is portrayed in the classical posture of the cosmic dance.

This aspect of Shiva is shown with eight hands. The lower portion of the panel and the arms are partially missing. However the image still retains the grace of the movement the rock cut artist wanted to capture.

One of his right hand holds the battle axe while a left hand stretches across the torso. Though it adds to the balance of the image, the other two hands are broken from elbow. The cobra twists itself from the battle axe and move forward to Shiva’s shoulder.
While one of his left hand is shown lifted , the other left hands follows the body with its graceful bend.

Shiva’s head is tilted towards right and a bunch of his matted hair shown flowing over the left shoulder.

A closer look can even reveal the folded cloth on the left thigh. So are the decorated bands tied around the upper arms.

Even in its ruined condition , the image is majestic. As usual around the dancing Shiva are a plethora of godly themes. Most notable is that of the three headed Brahma at the top corner of the panel, on your left. His circular seat is carried by a flock of flying swans. Just behind Brahma are two semi naked ascetics. Below them stands two of Shiva’s sons – the elephant headed Ganesha and the larger image of Subramanya ( Kumara). While Ganesha is considered as the Lord of Beginnings, Subrahmanya is considered as God of War.

Next to Subrahmanya stands a female attendant whose face is completely damaged. Below Subrahmanya sits a drummer.

On the left of the dancing Shiva ( on your right) are the images of Parvati ( Shiva’s consort), standing in a bit shying away posture. Above Parvati are the two gods – Vishnu riding the Garuda and Indra (king of gods) riding Airavat, the white elephant.

Further on either sides of Shiva’s head are the rows of flying celestial attends.
Having seen the two panels at the portico, you would now either head straight to the deeper end of the cave or go along the wall in a circumambulatory fashion. It doesn't matter what path you chose as long as you keep the general topography in mind, so that you would not miss anything.

 

Shiva as Nataraja the Lord of Dance

Shiva as Nataraja the Lord of Dance

Shiva as Nataraja the Lord of Dance

Everything about Elephanta!

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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Elephants Island Map

Elephanta Cave 6 and Cave 7

Cave 6 and 7 are located in the eastern hill in Elephanta Island. It's not very frequented by visitors compared to the rest of the caves.

Elephants Island Map

Elephanta Map

The Elephanta Island Map (Gharapuri).Popular attractions are marked (Cave 1 to Cave 5) and the Cannon Hill.

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Ardhanari image at Elephanta

Mythical Themes at 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.

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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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The demon king Ravana lifts Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva

Ravana Shaking Kailasa at Elephanta

Ravana, the demon king of Lanka is a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva.Portrayed in this panel is a very popular episode of Ravana lifting the mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.

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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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