The Great Cave at Elephanta is one of the great monuments
near Bombay. It is one in a complex of Hindu caves on Gharapuri (Elephanta
is the name given to the island by the Portuguese), dating to the sixth
View from the entrance of the Great
Cave toward the Mahadeva image.
The cave is designed to accommodate Hindu ritual of circumambulating
the cave, and encountering a number of images related to Shiva, in a great
mandala. (Only a few of the scenes from the cave are shown here).
Nataraja, at the cave entrance (verandah),
Bhairava spears Andaka, Elephanta.
The marriage of Shiva and Parvati,
The mandala has two axes, one from the main entrance to
the Mahadeva image; the second from a side entrance to the Lingam shrine.
Mahadeva image at Elephanta, three
of the faces of Sadashiva.
The Mahadeva image is the focus of the north-south axis
of the cave, marked by a widening of the pillars along the axis, and the
uninterrupted view from the entrance.
Vamadeva (?), the right-hand face
The cave is flanked by two other caves, with their own
entrances into the Great Cave along the east-west axis. This axis is further
marked by the ceiling of the cave (the capitals are engaged with the ceiling
in a relief along the east-west axis). The axis cuts through the lingam
shrine of the cave.
The left side cave includes a shrine to the Saptamatrikas,
or Seven Mothers. This group of esoteric deities, associated with sakti
cults, was a common fixture. Their main identifying features are their vehicles.
The Saptamatr shrine at Elephanta.
The ends of the shrine also have images to the south is
a dancing figure, probably Skanda; to the north is the gruesome Kala and
his consort, Kali.
These are figures commonly associated with the Saptamatr
Dancing Skanda, Saptamatr shrine,
The emaciated Kala, Saptamatr shrine,
Unfortunately, these are all the photos I
have of Elephanta. If you have photos you would like to share, please let
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