Elephanta Dance Festival takes place at Elephanta Island, also called Gharapuri by the locals and Mumbaikars. Elephanta caves are collection of caves designed like temples, and most of them are dedicated to Hindu god Lord Shiva. A few caves are carved in the form of Buddhist ‘stupa’. These caves are listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987. Caves are located on Elephanta Island or Gharapuri, 10 km east of Mumbai, in Maharashtra. Temples are in a Mandala like orientation but except some work most of the heritage is damaged. The carving narrates mainly Shaivism but artwork of caves also gives a glimpse of Shaktism and Vaishnavism sects of Hinduism. Scholars suggest that construction date of the Elephanta caves between 5th and 7th century during the rule of different Hindu dynasties. Most scholars suggest 550 CE as year of completion of these caves. Colonial Portuguese named these caves as Elephanta when they found elephant statues on its wall. Portuguese soldiers had damaged many sculptures of the cave. There is a main cave with a number of large carved panels, all touching Siva and a separated lingam at the holy place. The most famous of the panels is Trimurti – the triple head, where God also takes on the role of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the savior and Shiva the destructor. The central bust of Shiva, his eyes closed in eternal contemplation, may be the most serene sight you witness in India. There are also the figures of Shiva doing the Tandava dance, the marriage of Shiva with Parvati, Ravana shaking Kailasa, a frightening size of Shiva depicting the murder of the demon Andhaka and the one in which Shiva appears as Ardhanarishvara, uniting the two sexes in a body. These caves are on two hills divided by a walkway in between.
The festival is organized at Elephanta Island near to Elephanta caves. It was organized in 1989 for the first time. The festival is organized to promote and preserve the cultural glory and diversity of India. Performers from all the states of India participate in the festival and showcase their regional dance art and music. The idol of Maheshmurti is illuminated at night. The artists perform at cyclopean auditorium which is also decorated with lights along with an idol of Lord Shiva. The show and performances are organized in evening and sitting arrangement is under the open sky.
Venue: Cave 1, Elephanta Island
Duration: 3 Hrs
Timing: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
How to Reach: By ferry from Gateway of India