Elephanta Caves Mumbai British Era, Old Photo 1880

A rare 1880 photo of the Elephanta Caves in British era Bombay, now Mumbai. The photo and its enlargement show Britishers and local Indians hanging out near the cave’s entrance. Two men on the right look to be security personnel, notice a rifle resting against a pillar. Elephanta Caves is one of the most recognized historical sites in India. It is one of the twelve islands that form the group of which Bombay is the principal.

The locals knew it as “Gharapuri” or “Place of Caves.” The Portuguese named it Elefante, the British anglicized it to Elephanta. So named because of a huge elephant statue carved from rock, that stood on the island. But was removed to Bombay in 1864. The statue stands at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum now. The island is a huge complex of temples and sculptures thought to date to the 6th Century AD. The main temple is supported by rock-hewn pillars.

The entire rock is covered with bas-reliefs referring to the rich Hindu mythology, but chiefly to Shiva. The most striking is the Trimurti of Shiva. That is a colossal three-headed figure representing God in his triple capacity of creator, destroyer, and sustainer. Another striking carving is Ardhanarishvara. The combination of Shiva and his wife Parvati. Which depicts the deity in the dual aspect of man and woman. One half of the figure displays the male form and the other the female form. Other sculptures portray the marriage of Shiva and Parvati; the birth of Ganesh, the elephant headed God of wisdom, and so on. Click on the photo for better view.

Read more The Caves that Celebrate Shiva. See my older post View of Elephanta Caves Bombay – 2 Old Postcards 1910.

Did you know- that Portuguese soldiers used the huge elephant statue as a target practice with their guns. 

From the collection- Vintage Raja Ravi Varma “Shivaji” Oleograph Print.,  Cochin Snake Boat Race – Old Postcard 1951.,  Ooty or Ootacamund Lake – Old Print 1920s.,  Old Postcard – Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Toy Train 1900

Photo Details

Year -


Photograph Size -

10 x 8 inch

Photographer -

Unknown British photographer