Indian mythology has some fascinating tales. An hour-long ferry from Gateway takes you to Elephanta or the Gharapuri Island, where different forms and facets of Shiva are laid out in vivid detail. The imposing figure of Sadashiva (above) is the tricky one – even at 17-feet, it shows only three faces of the hermit God; two hidden from a layman’s gaze. Did the sculptors deliberately design the Sadashiva to deceive the eye? Did they want the Ardhanarishwara, with half male and half female forms, to spur conversations on gender? Is the battle with demon Andhaka, whose blood spawns more demons when it reaches the ground, truly a metaphor for ignorance? The rock-cut caves and the larger-than-life sculptures – still standing in the lap of a tiny island – were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. They astound each time, but it’s the stories that truly make the Stone God come alive.
Ps: The Elephant that gave the island its name stands at the grounds of Bhau Daji lad museum. You can read more about the sculptures and the island on Live History India or invest in a guide/Intach tours to the island.