[Facade of] The caves of Elephanta
Photographer: Sykes, D.H.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the cave temple at Elephanta from the album of 'Views of Western India' taken by D.H.Sykes c.1872. The small island of Elephanta, off the coast of Bombay, is celebrated as the complexity of the plan makes it one of the greatest achievements in rock-cut architecture in India. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, dates to the sixth century and consists of a series of chambers cut from the rock. There are five caves in total, but only the great cave can still be visited. The temple stands at 250 feet above sea level and measures 130 feet square, 17 feet high. At the centre of the cave is a hypostyle hall of 20 pillars in which stands the linga shrine, flanked by two excavated courts to the east and west of the shrine. This view shows the architectural style typical of the site; not only do the pillars support the excavated rock, but they also have squat tapering shafts and fluted cushion capitals.