Elephanta caves are the ancient Hindu caves located near Mumbai in the Elephanta Island of the Arabian Sea. It is actually the collection of the temples of Lord Shiva and famous for its unique architecture. For the vast historical value and unique marble sculpture in the caves, UNESCO declared it as the World Heritage Site. I visited it long years back with my parents and relatives when it was not honored by UNESCO. It was a great experience to come in the serenity of the Island and visit the mysterious caves out from the crowd and noise of Mumbai. Many people visit Mumbai but don’t count it in their plan. But, an afternoon spent there is worth.
How to go?
The island is situated 11km away from the Gateway of India. In an afternoon, we took a ferry from the Apollo Bunder. The tickets for the ferry were available in front of the Gateway of India. It was double Dekker ferry. We stood on the roof of the ferry to enjoy the sea and its cool breeze more intensely. It was my first experience to travel along the sea. The one and half hour of a thrilling ride in the deep sea from was just amazing. The panoramic view of Mumbai skyline from the boat was fabulous. After starting the ride, we were entertained by the flocks of hungry seagulls, who were hovering around the ferry for the bits of food.
What to see in Elephanta caves?
Elephanta caves are also known as the Ghatpuri caves. After Portuguese attack, it was named as Elephanta Caves because of two huge stone basalt Elephant statues, greeted at the entrance of the Island. But, now those statues are stored at the Museum of Mumbai.
A toy train ride option is available to reach the feet of the caves from the harbor. We preferred to walk and we climbed a long flight of some 100-odd sharp stone steps, lined with souvenir stalls, food stalls, and restaurants to reach the temple.
There are two groups of caves – five Hindu caves (including the main cave housing exquisite Hindu sculptures) and two caves with Buddhist structures. The caves, of solid basalt rock, were badly damaged by the Portuguese. Only the main cave with expansive panels on Hindu mythology associated with Lord Shiva has remained preserved. The sculptures were painted in the past, but now only traces remain.
Elephanta Caves are carrying a great historical value due to its rock-cut architecture and sculptural art of medieval India, with some of the most amazing massive rock-cut sculptures and reliefs dedicated to Lord Shiva. The most magnificent carving among them is the rock-cut Mahesha murti that shows Lord Shiva as a creator, protector, and destroyer. There is also a lake and garden on the Island to enhance the beauty of the spot.
It is a sight that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime. And this visit is a life-giving experience for the backpackers, photographers, writers, and shopaholics.
- Night halt is not permitted on this island.
- Must take a private guide before your journey from the Gateway of India.
- Temples are closed on Monday.
- Timing: 9 a.m to 5 p.m
My theme for this Challenge is The OFFBEAT DESTINATIONS OF INDIA.
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