KANHERI & ELEPHANTA CAVES
The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves
located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri (literally
"the city of caves") in Mumbai Harbour, 10
kilometres (6.2 mi) to the east of the city of
Mumbai in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The
island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea,
consists of two groups of caves—the first is a large
group of five Hindu caves, the second, a smaller
group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain
rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva
Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva.
The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although the identity of the original builders is still a subject of debate. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain.
The island was called Gharapuri and was a Hindu place of worship until Portuguese rule began in 1534. The Portuguese called the island Elephanta on seeing its huge gigantic statue of an Elephant head at the entrance. The Statue is now in the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai. This cave was renovated in the 1970s after years of neglect, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 to preserve the artwork. It is currently maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India
The Kanheri Caves are a group of rock-cut monuments, located north of Borivali on the western outskirts of Mumbai, India, deep within the green forests of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is 6 km from the National Park Main Gate & 7 km from Borivali Station. Tourists can go in after 7.30 a.m. Kanheri Caves are signs of Buddhist influence on art and culture in India. Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit word Krishnagiri meaning black mountain.They were chiseled out of a massive basaltic rock outcropping.
These caves date from 1st century BCE to 10th century CE. In total in the basalt there have been carved 109 caves. Unlike the elegant splendor of Elephanta Caves nearby, the earlier cells are spartan and unadorned. Each cave has a stone plinth for a bed. A congregation hall with huge stone pillars contains the stupa, a Buddhist shrine. Farther up the hill are the remains of an ancient water system, canals and cisterns that collected and channeled the rainwater into huge tanks.
Once the caves became permanent monasteries, they began to be carved out of the rock with intricate reliefs of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas carved into the walls. Kanheri had become an important Buddhist settlement on the Konkan coast by the 3rd century A.D.