Shiv Jee | Shiv Temples
Cave Temple, Elephanta Island
The cave Temple of Shiv, located on Elephanta Island in Bombay Harbor, India, was excavated out of the rock sometime in the 6th century AD. Inside, it contains a square Ling shrine. The interior of the cave is decorated with a dozen large relief sculptures of the great god Shiv in his fierce and kindly aspects: dancing, practicing yoga, playing dice with Paarvatee, slaying the demon Andhakaasur, receiving the Ganges River in his hair, etc.
The great height (7m) and darkness of the statue reinforce Shiv's mysterious awesomeness, which must have been even more impressive during worship, when the statue would have been illuminated by the flickering light of numerous small oil lamps.
Its north entrance is on axis with the great three-headed Shiv on the south wall, while the Ling shrine is placed off-center (so as not to obscure the three-headed Shiv) on the east-west axis. This dual scheme allows Shiv to be presented in his iconic and aniconic forms.
The island of Elephanta was named by the Portuguese after a stone elephant found there in the 16th century. The historical name of the island was Ghar Puree. It is very dark inside the cave.
Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on February 12, 2013