Rock cut cave architecture is at its best at Elephanta Island, which is well known as a Gharpurichi Lenee in Local Marathi language. These caves are carved in the basalt rock. These caves are located on the Elephanta Island, this place is located just 10 kilometre away on eastern part of Mumbai, the financial capital of India. These caves represent finest rock cut architecture of two different civilizations. These caves are basically divided in to two groups first contains 5 caves which represent Hindu Shaivism. The other group of caves which consists 2 caves which was carves by Buddhist displaying finest example of rock cut architecture.
The Hindu group of caves contain rock cut sculptures of Lord Shiva which was carves by Shaiva people. Shaiva also known as Shaivam, which is the fourth most followed sect in Hindu religion. Shaivism included in many parts of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and India. Carbon dating suggest that these caves has been carved in between 5th and 6th century, but identity of original builders is still subject of debate. These caves were primarily coated with unbleached colors, however, only a few tresses of them can be found in the present time. In ancient time when Portuguese rule this place they called it as a Elephanta Island, because there was huge statue was placed at entrance of this island. Which is now places outside of Bhau Daji Lad museum at Jijamata Udyan in Byculla, Mumbai. These caves were renovated in the year 1970. UNESCO recommend the architecture of these caves in 1987 and included in the list of World Heritage Sites. These caves now under Archaeological Survey of India for maintenance and Conservation.
The Portuguese was mainly responsible for major damage to these ancient caves. Under the rule of Portuguese Hindu population declines drastically. Portuguese solders target the main caves of lord Shiva by sparing the Trimurti Sculpture of Shiva. They also does the major damage to the inscriptions which was written on the walls of the caves which leads to the debate of original builders of these caves. Historians and Archaeologist solely blame them for the destruction.
Mumbai well known as the financial capital of India, also holds its unique identity as a major historical tourist destination in India. Because of close proximity to the Arab sea, its sea port becomes an entrance for India. In ancient history many civilizations used this seaport to enter India and start their religious activity on land of India. Kanheri caves are another evidence of the Buddhism in India, which is also located here. Some of other famous tourist destinations of India are Gateway of India, CST terminus, Mahakali Caves, Hanging Garden and many more.
How to reach Mumbai
Because Mumbai is the financial capital of India, holds strong connectivity to rest of the India by road as well as by air. You can easily travel across city through its local transportation, and they are easily available. Mumbai is also connected with super fast express way to Bangalore and Delhi. You can easily get flights to all major cities of the world and India, at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Because of the coastal proximity, Mumbai is also connected by the sea also though its natural harbour.
Author : James D Corner