Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra

Elephanta Caves at Elephanta Island
Elephanta Caves map

The Elephanta Caves are located in Western India on Elephanta Island (otherwise known as the Island of Gharapuri), which features two hillocks separated by a narrow valley. The small island is dotted with numerous ancient archaeological remains that are the sole testimonies to its rich cultural past. These archaeological remains reveal evidence of occupation from as early as the 2nd century BC. The rock-cut Elephanta Caves were constructed about the mid-5th to 6th centuries AD. The most important among the caves is the great Cave 1, which measures 39 metres from the front entrance to the back. In plan, this cave in the western hill closely resembles Dumar Lena cave at Ellora, in India. The main body of the cave, excluding the porticos on the three open sides and the back aisle, is 27 metres square and is supported by rows of six columns each.


Archaeologically speaking, there are two types of monuments at Elephanta: Buddhist caves and the caves built by the followers of Pashupata cult (a Shaivite Hindu school). Some of the rock-cut caves which appear to be very simple now have been interpreted by scholars as having once been Buddhist cells.

 

 The remains of the Buddhists Stupas in Elephanta probably belongs to the early phase of Buddhism dating 2nd century BC. There are many Buddhist stupas around the cave 7 in Elephanta.  

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