The Elephanta Caves rank among the popular tourist attractions in Maharashtra. The caves are situated in the Gharapuri Island, located off the coast of Mumbai. The caves were renamed as the Elephanta Caves due to their shape of the elephant. The Elephanta Caves have been included in the list of the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
Hundreds of tourists from various parts of India and the world visit the Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra. There are 7 caves in total which are dedicated to Lord Shiva. They were made in the period between the 7th and 12th century AD. The caves are fine specimens of the ancient Hindu culture and tradition and are famous for their rock cut sculptures. The caves are surrounded by sprawling vegetation. The caves consist of religious motifs which depict the various forms of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is represented as Andhakasuravadha, signifying the demon of darkness, Kalyanasundara-the gentle loving god, Ardhanarishwara which signifies the togetherness of Shiva and Shakti, Nataraja-Shiva who is the cosmic dancer and as Ravana anugraha who is the destroyer of enemies.
The most famous sculpture in the Elephanta Caves is the statue of Trimurti Sadasiva form of Lord Shiva. The statue rises up to a height of 20 feet and is carved as a three headed-Shiva. The right face represents Shiva as a young person with sensuous lips which signifies life and vitality. The right half of the face resembles that of Lord Brahma, the creator of Uma or Vamadeva, the female form of Shiva. The left half-face face of the statue is that of a young man who is has moustache and displays anger. It signifies Shiva as Aghora Bhairava, the destroyer, whose anger can put the whole world in flames. The central face is in a meditative pose as a Yogi which signifies Shiva praying for the protection of humanity.