Elephanta Island in Maharashtra (India)

Elephanta is a small island in the state of Maharashtra in India. The quiet, wooded island in the bay about 10 km east of Mumbai, formerly Bombay, and has an area of about 2 km. The few residents live in a small fishing village. The much-visited historic caves on Elephanta were used to worship gods and are under protection of UNESCO, since 1987 they belong to the world cultural heritage site.

The island is a relaxing contrast to the tortuous confines of the nearby city of Mumbai; they do Gharapuri probably originally called the “City of Ghara-priest”, but was by the Portuguese in the 16th Century after the stone elephant they found in the port renamed.
The elephants can be seen in the Victoria Gardens in Mumbai. On the island there are several caves, one of which belongs, with their elaborate sculptures of Shiva, the most important monuments of Hindu sculpture at all. Stalls selling cold drinks and souvenirs lining the path uphill to the cave. Above will be the guest food and drinks and offer a terrace overlooking the sea. Accommodation there are no Elephanta. The trip, from the Gateway of India in Mumbai to the island takes about an hour by ferry, the tour with the tour guide for about half an hour.

History of the Elephanta Island and the caverns

To the 2nd Century AD, was the capital of Elephanta Traikutakas, under the king Madhyamasena. This gave the land on to a Brahmin, who had to be conquered by the King Harisena, who belonged to Vakataka dynasty. The Vakataka dynasty was in turn succeeded by the Kalachuri dynasty. The Elephanta Caves are there any specifically for this dynasty typical representations Shiva: Shiva as Lakulisha. Their presence is one reason why it is believed that this dynasty, had the times of the Temple Foundation, the hegemony of Elephanta. Also, some only to Elephanta existing discoveries of silver coins on which the second ruler of Kalachuris was shown in favor of this dynasty as a possible founder of the cave building. Also coming into question for the Höhlenbau however, the Maurya. Their dynasty was, in this time over the whole of western India, including its coastal areas, the Konkan. There are some writings, is recorded in which the name “puri” as the headquarters of the Maurya. It is debatable whether it is also today in the local vernacular or so-called island Gharapuri “Elephanta meant. It is possible that the Kalacuris governed under the feudal rule of the Maurya and vice versa.

In any case, the coastal areas in the 7th Year. AD is from the Chalukyas. With the death of Vikramaditya II / VI., The last great ruler of the Chalukyas, about 1130 AD, the empire was divided into separate estates. One of these gentlemen were the single Yadava of Devagiri. They dominated, according to the area around 1290 in the Muslim rule was transferred, especially to the Sultans of Gujarat (in the 15th century in Ahmedabad). From 1534 the island then passed into the possession of the Portuguese. This was in 1682 again by an Indian domination, the Marathas replaced, until Elephanta was acquired in December 1774 by the British.

Until 1539, the caves reportedly still in very healthy condition. Then in 1550 the large observed destruction caused by the use Elephantas as a military site. Above all, a tremendous shot in 1712 in the middle of the building is most hurtful. The first restoration work by the Public Works Department began in 1890, and since 1909 the cave is under strict care of the Indian Archaeological Department.

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