Elephanta Caves

World heritage sites of India

What exactly are the Elephanta Caves?

The Elephanta Caves also known locally as Gharapurichi Leni, is a network of tunnels with designs and statues sculpted by man. These Caves are located on Elephanta Island (Gharapurichi "the city of caves") hence it's name. The Island's network consists of two groups of caves; firstly is a group of five Hindu caves, The second group has two Buddist caves. The Hindu caves are dedicated to the Lord Shiva, with rock cut stone sculptures representing the Shaiva Hindu sect.The caves and sculptures are made from solid bassalt rock and was also painted in the past but now there are only traces of the paint remaining. The main cave was a place of Hindu worship, that was until the Portuguese rule beginning in 1534. During this rein, the caves and artworks suffered severe damage. After being neglected for years, the Elephanta caves were renovated and added to the world heritage site list in order to protect and preserve them. The Elephanta caves are currently being maintained by the archaeological survey of India.

When were the Elephanta caves constructed?

There have been numerous archaeological remains found on the Island, these remains have been the sole evidence showing the rich Cultural past of the Ancient Indians. these remains have also shown evidence of vocation from as early as the 2nd century BC. The Sculptures and artefacts of the caves have been dated back to the mid-5th to 6th centuries AD however, the identity of the builders is unknown and is still being debated.
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Why were the Elephanta caves constructed?

The caves and the sculptures they hold were made and dedicated to the ancient Indian god known as Shiva. The caves are also a wonderful representation of the level or agriculture the ancient Indians were up to in that point of time. Local stories have it that The magnificent artworks of the caves weren't actually man made, but instead creations of the gods.

Why should the Elephanta caves be preserved?

Preserving the Elephanta caves is crucial. The caves are a representation of Indian art at it's best. The magnificence and beauty of the caves is something so unique and rare that it is vital that we preserve and cherish this amazing site. Not only are the caves beautiful but they are also a valuable source of knowledge, knowledge into what kind of structures and agricultural creations the ancient Indians were capable of and the beliefs they had (for example the Caves and sculptures dedicated to Shiva). Historical sites like this don't come along everyday so it is vital that we preserve this breathtaking site so that we'll still be aware of the past in many years to come.