Reasons for Visiting Elephanta Caves in Mumbai
- Elephants Caves is one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mumbai.
- Elephanta Caves consists of 5 rock-cut Hindu Caves and 2 Buddhist Caves. There are beautiful carvings in stone in these caves.
- Enjoyable ferry boat ride to reach Elephanta Caves.
- Elephanta Caves are one of Mumbai’s Top 10 Tourist Attractions.
Things To Do and See at Elephanta Caves
- Elephanta Caves are located on Elephanta Island, which is a small island situated 11 Kms (7 Miles) from the Eastern coast of Mumbai. There are two touching hills (Gun Hill and Stupa Hill) on this island. Elephanta Island is also known as “Gharapuri” (Island of Caves).
- In 1987 Elephanta Caves were designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO conferred this honour on Elephanta Caves based on the following two Cultural criteria – “Masterpiece of human creative genius” and “Exceptional Testimony to a Cultural Tradition”.
- Carved into the hills of Elephanta Island is a rock-cut Hindu Temple complex, consisting of five caves (Caves 1 to 5) and a Buddhist Temple Complex, consisting of two caves (Caves 6 and 7) and two unexplored Stupas. Collectively these temple caves are called Elephanta Caves. In addition there are two cannons.
- The deity of the Elephanta Hindu Temple caves is Lord Shiva.
- Cave 1 is the most impressive of all the Elephanta Caves. The centrepiece of the main Elephanta Cave is a large 7 meter (20 feet) three face idol of Lord Shiva. The fierce masculine Shiva face (“Bhairava” or “Aghora”) on the right of the Shiva idol represents Destruction. The Shiva face in the middle represents Harmony and Preservation (“Mahadev” or “Taptapurusha”) and the feminine face of the left represents Creation (“Vamadev” or “Uma”). This statue is called the “TriMurti” – “Tri” means three and “Murti” is idol.The Trimurti statue is also called “Mahesh” Murti and “Trimurti SadaShiva”. Elephanta Cave 1 is 39 meters from the front to the back of the cave.
- Although many of the idols have suffered because of the passage of time at the hands of vandals, it is still possible to appreciate the amazing craft and creativity of the sculptors who created these masterpieces. Besides the Trimurti, some of the other prominent Lord Shiva statues at the main Elephanta Cave 1 include Lord Shiva with his wife Parvati at their abode on Mount Kailash, half Shiva half Parvati idol (“Ardhanarishvara”), wedding of Lord Shiv and Parvati (“Kalyanasundara”), an angry aggressive Shiva slaying Andhaka (“ Bhairava”, “Andhakasura Vadha”), dancing eight hand Shiva (“Nataraja”), meditating Shiva (“Yogeshwara”), Shiva with Ganga in his hair (“Gangadhara”), Ravan trying to lift Mount Kailash, and a large Shiv Ling.
- After the main first cave, the third cave is the most impressive. It has large columns at its entrance and lovely carvings on its ceiling. The fourth cave has a big Shiva Linga. The second and fifth Elephanta Caves are unfinished.
- It is thought that the Hindu Elephanta Caves were carved from the middle of the 5th century to the 8th century.
- Elephanta Caves 6 and 7 are two Buddhist caves. Cave 7 is believed to have been carved in 2nd century BC. There are Buddhist Stupas in this part of Elephanta. When the Portuguese ruled over Elephanta Island and Bombay, they converted Cave 6 into a Church.
- From the jetty there is a short walk to the hills and from there it is a 1 Km upward climb to the caves. A toy train is available to take visitors to the base of the hill.
- Elephanta has a small museum, a restaurant run by Maharashtra Tourism and many small souvenir shops.
- There used to be a large statue of an elephant on the island, which why the Portuguese called this Elephanta Island.Part of this elephant statue us now at the entrance of the Mumbai Zoo.
This is a link to a website that has more Information on Elephanta Caves.
Location, Map of Elephanta Caves and How to Get There
Elephanta Caves is located on Elephanta Island, also known as Gharapuri Island, which is 11 Km (7 Miles) East of Mumbai’s Gateway of India.
Coordinates of Elephanta Caves is N18 58 0.012 E72 56 8.988.
How to Reach Elephanta Caves? Boat to Elephanta Caves
- Getting to Elephanta Island and Elephanta Caves is part of the enjoyment of visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- To get to Elephanta Caves, take a boat ferry from Gateway Of India. Ticket for the Elephanta Ferry can be booked at the booking office, which is at the entrance of the Gateway Of India complex. Adult boat ticket cost Rs 180 and Children’s (ages 3 to 7) ticket cost Rs 125.
- Ferries from Gateway of India to Elephanta start at 9:00 am and the last return boat from Elephanta Caves to Gateway is at 5:30 pm. Elephanta ferries usually leave at a frequency of 30 minutes. One way trip takes around an hour.
- NOTE: There is NO ELEPHANTA CAVES FERRY SERVICE during the Monsoon season, which is from the first week of June to mid/end September.
- Elephanta Caves are CLOSED TO VISITORS ON MONDAY.
Cost of Boat and Entrance Ticket to Elephanta Caves
- The luxury ferry boat to Elephanta cost Rs 180 for Adults and Rs 125 for Children between the ages of 3 to 7. Children below 3 years travel for free.
- There is an additional charge of Rs 10 to travel on the upper deck of the ferries to Elephanta Caves. This is paid on the boat itself.
- Entry ticket to Elephanta Caves is Rs 10 for Indians. Foreign tourist from SAARC countries, Thailand and Myanmar also pay only Rs 10 as entrance fee to Elephanta Caves. All other foreigners pay Rs 250 for entry ticket to Elephanta Caves. There is a nominal charge for camera.
- Ride on the small toy train at Elephanta Caves cost Rs 10.
Opening and Closing Time of Elephants Caves
NOTE: Elephanta Caves are CLOSED ON MONDAY.
First Boat Ferry from Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves leaves at 9:00 am and the last boat from Gateway Of India leaves at 3:00 pm.
The first return boat from Elephanta Caves to Gateway Of India leaves at 12:00 noon and the last return boat leaves Elephanta Island at 5:30 pm.
There is no Ferry service to Elephanta Caves on Monday and during Mumbai’s Monsoon season. So Elephanta Caves are shut from the first week of June to the mid/end of September.
Tips for Tourist Visiting Elephanta Caves
- The boat ferry to Elepahanta Caves can cause sea sickness. Avoid having fluids at least 30 minutes before the boat ride. Visitors may also want to take medication that prevents sea sickness and nausea. Please consult your doctor before taking medicines.
- A return trip to Elephanta Caves can take over four hours. Do carry water and snacks or a picnic lunch.
- Mumbai can be hot and humid for most part of the year. It is advisable to wear clothes made of breathable natural fabric, such as cotton. Wear comfortable walking shoes since there is a fair amount of walking to reach the Caves Temple complex. Do take a pair of sunglasses, a hand towel and a hat. Apply sunscreen.
- Expect to perspire a lot. Do carry water and stay hydrated.
- The first boat to Elephanta Caves is less crowded than the later boats.
- The one way boat journey from Gateway Of India to Elephanta Island takes around one hour.
Mumbai Tourist Attractions Near Elephanta Caves
The area around Gateway Of India and South Mumbai is a major tourist hub.
There are many restaurants, pubs, galleries, historic buildings, shops and places of interest near Gateway of India. The Museum, NGMA, Jahangir Art Gallery, Mumbai University, Bombay High Court are some of the places of interest.
This is an article on a One Day Walking Tour of Mumbai’s Main Tourist Places. Most of these tourist attractions are in South Mumbai and within walking distance of Gateway of India.
Please see the Picture attachments for picture credits and license.