To the untrained eye, Elephanta is all but a tourist spot, known to have a few sculptures which are almost reduced to dust now. Elephanta caves are remote, carved into a hill near the Mumbai coast.
Little is known about the true nature of these caves except for a few sculptures that speak of the glories of Lord Shiva. Interesting facts are that these caves at Elephanta are the only surviving caves that depict Shiva. No where else in India do we find a cave dedicated to Shiva, with a Linga in the central shrines. The silence and the darkness of these caves does have a lot in store for us.
I had learned before that there is more to that darkness than what meets the eye. Here is an idea on what is actually the biggest quest of life. A series of iconographic sculpture depicting the paradoxes of life. In case you are headed to Elephanta, this is what you should look for.
These sculptures include:
Marriage of Shiva and Parvati - Kalyanasundara murti,
Shiva holding the Ganges - Gangadhara,
Ravana shaking Kailasa - Ravana Anugrahamurti,
Shiva as Ardhanarishwara,
The dancing shiva - Lasya form Nataraja,
The lord of the yogis - Yogiswara
The destroyer of evil - Samharamurti
Trimurti - comprising of Aghora, Shiva and Vamadeva
Shiva who bestows gifts - Anugrahamurti
Right through the cave His aura is felt - silent, enigmatic, meditating... Interestingly, Shiva has many more forms like the Bhikshatana, Gajasuvadhamurthi, Tandava Nataraja, Lingodbhava murthi, none of which are depicted in this cave, but do make a permanent appearance in later temples of south India.