Gharapuri Caves or as popularly known as Elephanta Caves are ancient Hindu caves located near Mumbai. They are located on the Gharapuri island which is 10km from the shore of Mumbai, one needs to take a ferry to goto
the caves. The are 5 caves which belong to the God Shiva.
Cave number 1 is the most magnificent of the complex, it has God Shiva in various forms, namely,Ardhanareshwara (one form of God Shiva and Parvati), Gangadhara (one who carries the river Ganga from heaven),
Kalyanasundaramudra (marriage of God Shiva and Parvati), Andhakasuravadamurti (killer of demon Andhaka), Yogisvara (yogi pose), Nataraja (cosmic dance of God Shiva),
Ravananugraha (Ravana shaking of Mount Kailash) and the central figure of the cave Trimurti(three aspect of God Shiva creation, protection and
destruction ). There are multiple linga’s in the cave which are still worshipped. Apart from Shiva and Parvati one can also see figures of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma in the cave.
Other caves are mostly incomplete and have lingas in some of them.
These magnificent temples of Shiva sect was destroyed by the Portuguese who set foot on the island in the year 1534. The Portuguese not only drove the locals from the island but they used the cave figure as target practise, so much for the sake of Christianity. They even tried to transport a stone statue of elephant,
which they broke while transferring, the statue sits in the Mumbai Zoo. It is in the name of this statue that the island got popular.
Apart from the Shiva caves there are a couple of other caves which are of Buddhist nature.