Side of three-headed figure, representing Brahma, Shiva & Vishnu. Cave of Elephanta
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Trimurti of Shiva in the cave temple of Elephanta in Maharashtra from the 'Lee-Warner Collection: 'Bombay Presidency. William Lee Warner C.S.' taken by an unknown phototgrapher in the 1870s. The temple on the small island of Elephanta, off the coast of Bombay, is celebrated as 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. The north entrance of the temple leads to the Trimurti of Shiva. The central face is calm and detached, the left profile expresses the feminine and the peaceful and the right profile reveals the fierce and masculine. The three faces symbolise the nature of the Divine, which combines and trascends all opposites.