The Elephanta Caves are a group of caves located on Mumbai Harbor’s Elephanta Island in Gharapuri. The two cave groups on this island, which is perched on an Arabian Sea projection, are made up of two Buddhist caves and five Hindu caves. The rock-cut stone carvings in the Hindu caves are dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god, and are symbolic of the Shaiva sect. Solid basalt rock has been cut to create the caves.
The architecture of the rock-cut caves is from the fifth to the eighth centuries. Hindu deities found sanctuary in Cave 1, also known as the Great or Main Cave. The caves suffered significant damage once the Portuguese took control of the region. After being restored, these caves were included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987. The Archaeological Survey of India, or ASI, is currently responsible for maintaining them.
The Elephanta Caves have been dated by historians, who estimate they date to the fifth or eighth century. The historical significance of the caves might be linked to the war of 635 AD, which saw the Badami Chalukya dynasty’s monarch Pulakesi beat the Mauryan rulers who were ruling the Konkan kingdom. The Konkan Mauryans are said to be the owners of the cavesby certain historians. Some others assert that the Kalachuris own the caves.
How to reach
Reached by ferry from Mumbai’s Gateway of India, the Elephanta Caves are located on an island off the coast of Mumbai. Mumbai has excellent connections to many other cities throughout the globe. Therefore, travellers who wish to see the cavesmust first go to Mumbai by rail or aeroplane. The city boasts a well-developed rail system, enabling visitors to get to the Church Gate, Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Station, and CST by local trains. Travellers must walk for 20 to 30 minutes or take a cab for 10 minutes to get to the Gateway of India from this location.
Travellers can even use a bus or cab to go to the Gateway of India from the Church Gate. Ultimately, a 60-minute boat voyage from the Gate of India will get you to the caves. There are ferry boats available every half an hour. A single person’s round-trip ferry ticket costs 120 rupees. The jetty is around a km distant from the cave temple.
With the exception of Mondays, the caves are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entry cost is Rs. 250 for foreigners and Rs. 10 for Indians.
Activities to do in and around
It’s worthwhile to explore the cave on Elephanta Island. The Shiva Lingam is located in the main cave, which has two doors. There are caretakers watching over these shrines. The followers worship the Shiva Lingam every day. Damahe, which often happens during the rainy season, is seen in several of the caves.
Travellers may ride a little toy train, which costs R.5 one way, from the dock to the foot of the hill. The admission charge to Gharapuri village is Rs. 5, and visitors may also opt to stroll down the pier to get there.
The best time to visit Elephanta Caves
The ideal time to explore these caves is from October to February.