Also known as Gharapurichi Leni, the Elephanta Caves is located on Elephanta Island in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The whole cave temple complex area is about 60000 sq ft and boasts of the central chamber, two lateral ones, many subsidiary shrines, and courtyards. The entire location is built from solid natural rock with intricately carved sculptures of idols. There are principally seven caves where one can investigate the real excellence of ancient Indian architecture. There are a few highly-finished rock surfaces in Elephanta Caves; however, some are stark untreated rocks too. The most prominent expression of sculpted caves can be noticed in the two major groups of caves here. The first cave represents engravings based on Hinduism, where you will find rock-cut stone sculptures, dedicated to Lord Shiva. On the sculpture, you'll see the quintessential essence of the Shiva Lingam created in eight manifest forms that are worth viewing. However, the Elephanta Caves were assigned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1987.
The Elephanta caves on the island are believed to date back to the Silhara King’s era. However, there is no concrete proof to confirm the same; still, there are several assumptions associated with its formation. Actually, the Portuguese who reached India renamed the island Elephanta. The caves are believed to come under the administrations of a myriad of rulers that controlled this area for many centuries till the modern age. These rulers are the Mauryas of Konkan, Chalukyas of Badami, Silaharas, Trikutakas, Rashtrakutas, Yadavas of Devagiri, Kalyani Chalukyas, Shahi dynasty of Gujarat, the Marathas, the Portuguese, and even the British. Additionally, as per the local tradition, people believe that the artisans created the Elephanta caves without at all using their hands.
The Elephanta caves is an epitome of the grand Indian architecture that depicts the deep-rooted Indian mythology in every corner. The main cave at Elephanta Caves holds an image of Ravana raising Kailash Mountain. Further, at Ardhanarishvara, a display of Shiva and Parvati within the same body can be seen. In the end, one may find the Sadasiva display of carved Shiva which is a 20 ft high marvel of the three-headed Shiva, called Trimurti - a classic example of Indian art. Moreover, you will be stunned by the magnificent sculptured forms of Ardhanariswara, Kalyanasundaram, Uma Maheswara, and Gangadhara. In the west, one must also explore sculptured images of Andhakaasuravada Moorthy and Nataraja and Yogiswara and Ravana Anugraha Murti images in the east.
- The Elephanta Caves has an old history of over 3000 years.
- The main cave established at Elephanta Caves was the Hindu place of worship under Portuguese rule.
- A lot of scholars consider that Christian Portuguese soldiers used the Elephanta caves and the sculptures as a firing range for their target practice.
- Until 1661, the Caves witnessed significant decay under the Portuguese. The intruders mostly displaced the cravings and the writings. Yet even today, the place features plenty to admire for visitors.
- Between 1872 and 1903, the British Indian Government charged a temple tax on people who used to come for visiting the Elephanta Caves.
- The Kshatrapa coins excavations that are dating back to the 4th century AD also unearthed from here.
- Some archaeologists believed that the Elephanta caves are Kalachuris, supposedly because they have a specific connection with the Konkan Mauryas.
- Besides, Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas are also believed to have been behind the creation of these magnificent caves.
- The enormous elephant model, which is the source of this island's name, is now situated at Jijamata Udyan. It is the oldest public park in Mumbai.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ELEPHANTA CAVES
The best time to visit the Elephanta caves is during winter, between the months of November and February. It is advised not to visit the caves between June and August, as it is the peak rainy season in Mumbai. During this time, ferry rides come to a halt as the sea becomes unpredictable.
TICKET PRICES & ENTRY INFORMATION
The timing for the Elephanta Caves is between 9 AM to 5:30 PM. The entry fee varies; for Indians, it is INR 10, for foreigners, it is INR 250, for children, entry is free.
HOW TO REACH ELEPHANTA CAVES BY FERRI FROM MUMBAI
You can book a private cab or hire a taxi to reach the Gateway of India, further you have to board a ferry that will drop you at the Elephanta caves. Another way to reach the Gateway of India is via the local bus directly. Further, you can hire a ferry to head to the Elephanta Caves. The boat is the prime transportation facility to reach this site as it is built on an island. Since the Elephanta Caves are located on an island, one has to take a ferry to the islands which makes up for a joy ride in its own right. The first boat leaves from the Gateway of India ferry point at 9:00 AM while the last one leaves at 2:00 PM sharp. The ferry can cost anywhere between INR 130 to 150 according to the type of ride you choose.
- Gateway of India – Located in Mumbai, this iconic structure is a popular tourist spot. It is located close to the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – This historic train station, also known as CST, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in Mumbai.
- Crawford Market - This colorful market is located in the heart of Mumbai and is known for its variety of goods, including spices, souvenirs, and clothing.
- Prince of Wales Museum – This museum, also known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, is located in Mumbai and features a collection of art, artifacts, and exhibits related to Indian history and culture.
- Marine Drive – This picturesque promenade is located along the coast of Mumbai and offers stunning views of the sea and the city skyline.
- The Taj Mahal Palace – This iconic luxury hotel is located in Mumbai and features stunning views of the Gateway of India. It is about 10 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves. Built-in 1903, The Taj Mahal Palace is a legendary 5-star hotel in Mumbai's prime historical and entertainment hub. This iconic hotel stands majestically opposite the Gateway of India overlooking the Arabian Sea.
- Trident Nariman Point – This upscale hotel is located in the heart of Mumbai and features beautiful views of the Arabian Sea. It is about 11 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves. The iconic Taj Mahal Tower stands majestically facing the Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea, keeping you at the city’s nerve centre of art, culture, and glamour. Stylishly designed with 14th-century arched balconies and Indian design elements, the well-appointed suites feature city, sea, and pool views.
- The Oberoi Mumbai – This luxury hotel is located in Mumbai and features beautiful views of the sea. It is about 10 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves. The Oberoi Mumbai is a striking example of modern architecture that lifts you over Marine Drive to enjoy magnificent views of the Arabian Sea and the sparkling Queen's Necklace. The Oberoi offers luxury and world-class hospitality with its outdoor heated pool, 24-hour spa, and five food and beverage options.
- Vivanta President Mumbai – This upscale hotel is located in Mumbai and features modern rooms and amenities. The hotel provides a contemporary space on a single floor and It is about 11 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves.
- The St. Regis Mumbai – This luxury hotel is located in Mumbai and features beautiful views of the city skyline. It is about 12 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves. Enjoy luxurious staycations at St. Regis Mumbai. Situated in Lower Parel, our 5-star hotel brings the storied history and exceptional service of St. Regis to this vibrant area. Discover sophisticated elements crafted to make you feel at home, blended with luxuries such as on-call Butler Service, traditional Afternoon Tea, and Champagne Sabering ceremony. Relax in beautifully designed rooms, suites, and apartments, each with stunning vistas of the city or sea.
- Khyber – Located in Colaba, in all its pride and grandeur since 1985, this popular restaurant serves deliciously traditional North Indian cuisine. The restaurant provides a fine dining experience with a beautiful vintage interior of the place.
- Britannia & Co. – This historic restaurant has a vibe of its own. It is located in Mumbai and is known for its Parsi cuisine. With its antique and minimal-effort ambiance, the restaurant is definitely a must-visit place in Mumbai.
- The Table – Known for serving San Francisco style globally inspired European cuisine, the restaurant is located about 11 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves.
- Leopold Cafe & Bar – This historic cafe and bar is located in Mumbai and serves a variety of Indian and international dishes. It is located about 11 km from the ferry departure point to Elephanta Caves.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
What are Elephanta Caves famous for?
The structure of lord shiva on Elephanta Caves is considered the most prominent one to explore by several tourists.
How much time does it take to reach Elephanta Caves?
It takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour for the ferry to take you to Elephanta Island. From there you will have to walk for a short distance.
Where is Elephanta Caves located?
What is the best time to visit Elephanta Caves?
The best time to visit Elephanta Caves is during winter, between the months of November and February.