I Elephanta caves are a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island or popularly known as Gharapuri Caves which literally means city of caves in Mumbai harbor 10 KMs east to the city of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra. This island is situated on the arms of Arabian Sea.
Elephanta Caves consists of two groups of caves the one being the first one which is a large group of five Hindu caves and the second one is a small group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu group of caves is based on shaivism or on Lord Shiva. These caves contain elaborate and beautiful sculptures of lord Shiva and mother Parvati.
These islands on which the Elephanta Caves are situated were known as Gharapuri and were a place of worship for the Hindus until the advent of Portuguese in 1534. It is they who named it the Elephanta Caves owing to the gigantic structure of an Elephant in the center.
Elephanta Caves are carved out of solid basalt rock. The age of these caves are estimated to be as old as 5th to 8th century B.C. Elephanta Caves were in a state of complete neglect and if we look at the condition of the temple then this fact can be easily understood. It was only in the 1970s that its proper maintenance was started after a long and prolonged period of complete neglect. Now it is maintained by the archaeological survey of India and has also been announced as a world heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1981.