Western india is famous for a string of rock cut temples ranging in date from the 2nd century BC to the 12th cen AD.around Mumbai. within a radius of 20 kms lie several caves which include the buddhist rock cut temples of Kanheri and Kondivite and the brahmanical caves of Elephanta, Mandapesvar and Jogeshwari.
The island of elephanta originally known as gharapuri, derives its name from a massive stone elephant now displayed in the victoria gardens at Mumbai. Except for a few Kshatrapa coins of the 4th cen AD found here, nothing is known of the history of elephanta prior to the defeat of mauryan rulers if konkan by the chalukyan emperor Pulakesin 2 of badami in a naval battle of the island in 635 AD.
there are three caves (rock cut temples) out of which one is dedicated to shiva. others are of no particular interest. the main cave datable to the mid 7th cen AD conprises of a pillared hall in which a small shrine with four entrance doors is flanked by dwarapalas. it is a unique example of gupta and chalukyan art. while the massive but graceful figures of divinities and guardians and certain architectural features such as square pillars with cushion capitals suggest chalukyan influences the depiction of mountains and clouds and the hair styles of the women are reminiscent of gupta art.
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