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Elephanta (ĕlĭfănˈtə) [key], island, c.2 sq mi (5.2 sq km), in Mumbai harbor, Maharashtra state, W India. It is noted for six Brahmanic caves, carved (8th cent.) from solid rock some 250 ft (76 m) above sea level. The Great Cave, the largest (130 ft/40 m long), contains gigantic pillars supporting its roof and colossal statuary, most notably the famous three-headed bust of the Hindu god Shiva. The caves are much visited by Hindu pilgrims, especially since they were restored in the 1970s. The statue of an elephant, now removed to Mumbai city, gives the island its English name. The Indian name is Gharapuri.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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