Elephanta Caves (1987)

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The 'City of Caves', on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave. 

Elephanta (Hindi Gharapuri), small island, western India, in Mumbai Harbor, between Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and the mainland. It contains rice fields and stone quarries. 

The island is famous for six 8th-century temple caves carved out of rock and containing sculptured figures of Hindu deities. The Great Cave is supported by pillars cut out of the rock and is 40 m (130 ft) long, 40 m (130 ft) wide, and 5 m (18 ft) high. 

  • India 1949. Elephanta Caves - Trimurti. Scott # 209. The text immediately beneath Shiva's head reads TRIMURTI. Image by courtesy of Mr. Venkat Tata (India). 

India 1949. Elephanta Caves - Trimurti. Scott # 209.

In the center of the cave is a striking three-headed bust representing the Hindu gods Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer. 

Compartments surrounding the bust contain more religious sculptures. The European name of the island is derived from a large stone elephant that once stood near the landing place. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in India (on this website). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, India-section, for further information on the individual properties. 


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Revised 07 nov 2007  
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