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Shiva at Gharapuri (Elephanta)
Andhakantak Shiva at Gharapuri

The Andhakantak form of Shiva is a depiction of the deity in a fierce and valiant manner. It is said that from every drop of blood that fell on the Earth when the demon Andhakasur was slain, a new demon would be born. To find a solution to this problem, Shiva killed the demon in mid-air in such a way that his blood drops fell into a bowl. This form of Shiva can be found in sculptures in Verul (Ellora) and Gharapuri, both in India.

Despite the fact that the distance between these two places is approximately 350 KM and the sculptures were created 1.5 to 2 centuries apart, the similarity between them is striking. The artisans who created these sculptures used only hammers and chisels to create such intricate and detailed depictions of Shiva in his Andhakantak form. The sculptures capture the emotion of valour in a remarkable manner.

Shiva at Verul (Ellora)
Andhakantak Shiva at Verul (Ellora)

In both sculptures, Shiva is depicted holding the skin of Gajasura, which he had previously killed, in his two hands. In one hand on the right, he holds a sword, and in the other hand, he holds an Andhakasura that was formed by one of the drops of blood. In one hand on the left, a vessel is seen, and in the other hand, the real Andhakasura is seen slain in mid-air. Thus, this form of Shiva is depicted with eight arms.

I have given both the images above to show the similarity between these sculptures. I've given a third image for more nuanced comparison of their faces. The third eye, the frown eyebrows and the sharp teeth ... These characteristics are so similar in both the sculptures.

Facial Comparison of Shiva at Verul (Ellora) and Gharapuri (Elephanta)
Facial Comparison of Shiva at Verul (Ellora) and Gharapuri (Elephanta)

In Verul, Parvati, Shiva's wife, is shown gasping in fear at the sight of her husband's fierce form. However, in Gharapuri, the sculpture of Parvati on the right is destroyed by you know who !