Maneesh Foto

Maneesh Foto

Posted on 04/13/2010

Photo taken on March 10, 2010

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Konkan Mauryas
main cave
Elephanta Caves
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 USM L
Canon Rebel XTi
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Canon EOS 400D
Gujarat Sultanate

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Main Hall of Elephanta Caves

Main Hall of Elephanta Caves
Elephanta Island covers about 10 square km at high tide and about 16 sq km at low tide and is about 11 km east of the Apollo Bunder and can be reached by a ferry from the Gateway of India. The Elephanta Caves situated on this island is a World Heritage Site.

The origin of these caves is shrouded in mystery as there are no inscriptions available. Historians have dated it between 4th and 8th century AD. The island was called "Puri" or "Purika" in the 7th century and served as the capital of the Konkan Mauryas. Later it came to be called Gharapuri, which means a hill settlement. The Gujarat Sultanate surrendered it to the Portuguese in 1534 who named it Elephanta Island because of a huge rock-cut black stone statue of an elephant on the island (the statue has since been relocated to Bombay).

Portuguese rule saw a decline in the Hindu population on the island and the abandonment of the Shiva cave (main cave) as a regular Hindu place of worship, The Portuguese did considerable damage to the sanctuaries, using the reliefs of Shiva in the main cave for target practice, sparing only the Trimurti sculpture. They also removed an inscription related to the creation of the caves. While some historians solely blame the Portuguese for the destruction of the caves, others also cite water-logging and dripping rainwater as additional damaging factors. The Portuguese left in 1661 as per the marriage treaty of Charles II of England and Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal. This marriage shifted possession of the islands to the British Empire, as part of Catherine's dowry to Charles.

Though the main cave was restored in the 1970s, other caves, including three consisting of important sculptures, are still badly damaged. The caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987: the caves "represent a masterpiece of human creative genius" and "bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared". [source wikipedia - Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta caves is a conglomeration of seven caves, out of which the most important is the Mahesa-murti cave. The main body of the cave, excluding the porticos on the three open sides and the back isle, is 27 metres square and is supported by rows of six columns each. What you see above is a section of the columns.

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