[Facade of the cave temple at] Elephanta.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph with a view of the columned facade of the cave on Elephanta island, a short distance from Bombay (Mumbai), Maharashtra, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1870s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views. The island in Bombay Harbour which houses this cave-temple, locally known as Grahapuri was named Elephanta by 16th-century Portuguese travellers who discovered a stone elephant there. The cave-temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The main shrine has large carvings on its walls taken from the mythology of Shiva. It has two main focuses of worship: the lingam or phallic form of Shiva, which is in a separate sanctuary flanked by door guardians; and the huge and much-celebrated bust of Shiva with three heads called Trimurti (Three Forms), representing the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. Since a large inscription has been lost, the date that these temples were established is difficult to ascertain, though they were most likely excavated in the sixth century.