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elephanta caves

INTRODUCTION

Elephanta caves are a collection of cave temples, most of which are dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. They are situated on Elephanta Island, also called Gharapuri (literally "the city of caves"), which is in the Mumbai Harbour, 10 kilometres (about 6.2 miles) east of  Mumbai (India’s financial capital city) in the west Indian state of Maharashtra . The Elephanta island consists a total of five Hindu caves and a few Buddhist stupas that date back to the 2nd century BCE! It also consists of two Buddhist caves with their own water tanks.

History

The Elephanta caves, along with Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra are the most popular cave temples in India. Elephanta caves are fated between 5th and 9th century, and are attributed to various Hindu dynasties. A large part of these cave temples was built between the 5th and 7th centuries.

The caves, as well as the island, were said to have been given the name Elephanta by Portuguese invaders after they took control of the place in 1534. 

Architecture/Structure

Elephanta island has two groups of rock-cut caves, carved from solid basalt rock. Of these, five large caves on the western hill of the island are well known for sculptures related to Hindu religion and gods.

The caves are numbered for identification:

All the caves are temple carved from rock, and together have an area of 5,600 m2 (60,000 sq ft). Though the temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva, artwork in the Hindu caves displays themes from different Hindu denominations like Shaivism(related to Lord Shiva), Shaktism (a Hindu denomination relating to the Goddesses/female Gods in the religion) and Vaishnavism (related to Lord Vishnu).

Additional Information for Visitors

To get to the Elephanta Island, visitors need to take a ferry from the Gateway of India in Mumbai; and to get to the Gateway of India, a bus, train or cab can be taken (or auto-rickshaw).

The nearest railway station is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus; or Churchgate railway station, from where the place is about 2 km away. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the closes airport from here, and is connected to other cities across India as well as other parts of the world. All these terminals have a lot of buses, taxis etc which people can hire easily right outside them to take them anywhere in the city, and Gateway of India can be reached easily too.

For a two-way trip to Elephanta Island from here, the ferry charges will be around INR 150 per head and time taken (one way) would be around an hour.

The entry ticket to Elephanta Caves costs INR 40 for Indian national visitors and tourists from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries; and INR 600 for other foreign nationals. However, the entry is free for kids under the age of 15.