India is a land of reminisces from the past. The whole country has so much to offer that it is hardly possible for anyone to explore everything. The oldest formations however definitely deserve some special mention. One such location is the Elephanta Caves Mumbai. This group of caves located on a small island is a living testimony to the rich cultural past that it has witnessed. If you are a history buff then this is surely a must visit place for you. Whenever you are in Mumbai this is one site that you should definitely visit. In this article I have mentioned all the necessary information that you need to plan a visit to the Elephanta Caves Mumbai. The caves would surely leave you mesmerized with its presence. So keep on reading.
Location: Gharapuri, Maharashtra
Elephanta Caves Mumbai Timings: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm on all days from Tuesdays to Sundays. Mondays are closed.
Elephanta Caves Mumbai ferry timings are very important. The only way to reach the Caves is via this ferry ride. At 9 am in the morning the first ferry leaves the Gateway of India Jetty and the last one leaves at 2 pm. Tickets are available from the Gateway of India itself. The cost of the ferry varies from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 depending on the kind of boat and number of people etc. There are ferries every half an hour.
Elephanta Caves Mumbai Tickets:
The entry fee for Indian, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Sri Lankan citizens is Rs. 40 per person. For foreigners of other countries the ticket price is Rs 600.
For village entry the ticket price is Rs. 10, for toy train ride the price is Rs. 10. Video cameras are charged an additional fee of Rs. 25 and still cameras are free.
How to reach Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the airport that is the nearest. From the Airport the Elephanta Cave is only 25 km. You can take any bus or cab to reach the Gateway of India Jetty. From there you will have to take the ferry to reach the island of Elephanta Caves Mumbai.
Mumbai is well connected by roadways. There are public bus services from the city and also from nearby cities. The Mumbai Central Bus Stop is the nearest one to reach the Gateway of India jetty. You can also take a cab or drive through your own vehicle to reach there. From there you will have to take the ferry to reach the caves.
Mumbai locals are the most economical way to travel in Mumbai. You can get down at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus which is 3 km away or the Mumbai Central Station which is 6 km away. Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Bandra Terminus are also nearby options.
Best time to visit Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
The time from November to February is the most ideal time to visit the caves. In general you can visit the caves any time of the year. However it is advisable to not visit during the peak monsoon season. The Mumbai monsoon makes it really difficult as the sea becomes very unpredictable during this time. This in turn disturbs the smooth functioning of the ferry. Since the only way to reach the Elephanta Caves is to take a ferry ride, it is appropriate to check the weather conditions before planning a visit.
Moreover, if you are visiting the Elephanta Caves during the month of February you can attend the Elephanta Island Festival here. It is a two day long cultural programme that includes a lot of cultural music and dance programmes.
About Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
A group of Buddhist and Hindu caves, the Elephanta Caves is only 10 km away from Mumbai. Located on the Island of Gharapuri these are a group of 7 rock cut caves. Out of the 7 caves, 5 caves are dedicated to Lord Shiva and the remaining two are caves built in Buddhist styles. You can check out the Elephanta Caves photos that whatever we can see today as the Elephanta Caves, are nothing but ruins.
Previously they were even more intricately made pieces of art. Not just a tourist spot, the Elephanta Caves are also important sites of worship. One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Elephanta Caves Mumbai gives a beautiful view of the Mumbai Skyline that looks spectacular. This place also serves as an ideal spot for trekkers as well. However, the only way to reach here is by a ferry as it is located on an island.
History of Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
The history of the Elephanta Caves is not very certain. Some people believe that these great caves were built by the Pandavas. While others also believe that these were built by the demon devotee of Lord Shiva, Banasura. Furthermore, it is also believed by the locals that the caves were not built by human hands at all.
According to historians though, it is believed from the excavations and other findings, that the cave was built somewhere in between the 5th Century CE and 8th Century CE. But some other excavations of the Kshatrapa coins show the presence of these caves back in the 4th century AD. The credit of the construction of these caves goes to the kings of the Kalachuri Dynasty. There are other opinions on this as well. Some believe that the caves were built by the Rashtrakuta or the Chalukyan kings.
However the region was later ruled by different dynasties like the Mauryas, Marathas and the Shahis. During the time of Mauryas the caves were known as Puri or Purika. It was the capital of the Konkan Mauryas then. Later in the time the area was also ruled by the Portuguese during the 1500s. It is then that this island came to be known as the Elephanta Island as a huge elephant statue was spotted here. At present that massive statue is preserved in the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai.
During the Portuguese rule itself the caves met some serious damages. By 17th century, when British rule started, the caves were already in ruins. During the 1900s the restoration of the caves began. Moreover in the 1970s the Great Cave or the Cave 1 was restored to its present version that we see today. Along with that the other caves were also restored.
Elephanta Caves Mumbai Architecture:
The complex of the Elephanta Cave is huge, spreading across 60,000 sq feet. There are a total 7 Caves in the complex. These caves are cut from basalt rocks. The first 5 caves are a group of are Hindu caves. The main cave was the place of worship for the Hindus during the rule of Portuguese. Along with a pillared mandapa and an aisle the cave looks grand. The intricately carved walls of the caves have a number of deities. This cave is the most beautiful and elaborate structure here. It is 39 metres in measurement from the entrance to the back. The cave also resembles a lot like the Ellora Caves. Inside the pillared mandapam you will find a Shivalinga. Along with that there are statues of Lord Shiva on the walls as well.
At the northern entrance of Cave 1 there is a statue of Lord Shiva in the Nataraja form and Yogishvara form. Inside the caves you can find many depictions from the Hindu mythologies. The most notable one among these is the Trimurti Statue which is a monolithic statue of Lord Shiva. This is a three headed Shiva statue which is 20 feet tall. Also known as the Sadashiva this statue represents the three forms of Lord Shiva namely The Creator, The Protector and The Destroyer. The left half is the Aghora or the Bhairava, the right half is the Vamadeva and the central one is Mahadeva or Taptapurusha.
Furthermore the main cave also has a statue of Lord Ravana lifting the Kailash Parvat, Ardhanarishwara form of Lord Shiva which is half Lord Shiva and Half Devi Parvati on the same body, Shiva Parvati on the Kailash Parvat, Gangadhara cascading from the heaven to Earth, Lord Shiva’s Wedding, Lord Shiva slaying Andhaka. The east wing of the Elephanta Caves has stone carvings on Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, Dvarapala and Matrikas. On the west wing the Yogishvara and Nataraja statues are present.
The 2nd and 3rd caves are smaller caves. Each of these caves has a mandapa hall standing on pillars. The 4th and 5th cave are completely in ruins at present.
Cave 6 which is the cave built in Buddhist style is known as the Sitabai Temple. It has one large hall along with three chambers. The main hall has a shrine attached to it. Walls of this cave are beautifully carved. The 7th Buddhist cave is an incomplete one.
Things to do in Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
It would be an enriching experience to walk through the massive structures. The restored formations as well as the ruins of these caves will give you a greater glimpse of how things would have been in the past. It would fill your heart with a lot of wonder for the sustainability of all these formations.
From the first group of caves, a narrow path will take you along a hill. There you can see two large cannons. From here you will get a gorgeous breathtaking view of the Mumbai Skyline. You can also visit the Archeological Museum here near the ticket counter. Different items related to the caves and the island are kept and preserved here. You can gain a lot of knowledge on the formation of rock cut temples in India as well.
Places to visit near Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
There are some nearby places that you can visit near the Elephanta Caves.
Gateway of India
This is the landmark of Mumbai. The beautiful structure was formed to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in India for the very first time in 1911. To reach the Elephanta Cave one needs to reach the Gateway of India jetty. So this is one spot that you are getting to visit even before you visit the Elephanta Caves. The distance is around 10 km away from the Elephanta Caves.
This is another iconic landmark in Mumbai. It is a heritage sculpture of Roman Goddess Flora on top of the fountain. The Flora Fountain is 2 km away from Gateway of India.
The Asiatic Library
Asiatic Library or the Town Hall Library is one of the vintage libraries found in the city. The library houses many original manuscripts like Dante’s Divine Comedy written in different languages like Sanskrit, Persian and Prakrit. This Library is located 2 kms away from the Gateway of India.
The business hub of Mumbai is the Churchgate area. This is the place for food joints and shopping. You can get everything from sophisticated restaurants to budget eateries, local showrooms to branded shops and stores here. Almost at a 2 km distance from the Gateway of India, this is another popular tourist spot to visit.
Now while talking about Mumbai, we all must be familiar with the name Marine Drive. This sea facing promenade is the ideal place to unwind in Mumbai. About 3 km away from the Gateway of India, you can enjoy the breeze from the Arabian Sea here. Lovingly known as the Queen’s Necklace, this is one of the happening places in Mumbai. It is said that Marine Drive never sleeps. You can even visit the place during late night or wee hours of the morning. The place offers beautiful views at different times. Especially during the night time Marine Drive looks even more beautiful. You can definitely visit this place.
Things to keep in mind before visiting Elephanta Caves Mumbai:
- You will need at least half a day to explore the whole premise.
- The planning to reach the Elephanta Caves should be done keeping in mind the timings of the ferry.
- Try to take the first ferry in the morning to get the best of the place as it will be comparatively less crowded.
- Always have some extra time in hand because on crowded days like holidays or weekends the ferry services run a little slow and you might have to wait more than half an hour for a ferry.
- While opting for the guided tours for the Elephanta Caves, always cross check, whether the guide is licensed or not.
- Definitely do wear comfortable shoes.
- Do carry your sunglasses, hats and apply enough sunscreen.
- The places do have monkeys around. So be careful of them. Also keep the food items out of their reach.
- Stay hydrated and carry your water bottles.
- Stay hydrated and carry your water bottles.
- The last ferry will return by 5:30 so plan your return trip accordingly.
So are you mesmerised already reading about this gorgeous location? India and the historical formations that you will find here speak for the richness of culture. You can observe the presence of so many archeological remains here that stands as popular sites for tourists at present. The Elephanta Caves Mumbai is undoubtedly one such spot that stands tall as a historical evidence. Beautiful stone carvings, massive structures, and the history attached to the Caves make it an even more intriguing site for the visitors.
Different stories and myths attached to the caves will show some vagueness regarding the formation of these caves. Undoubtedly, the vagueness and the unsolved mysteries and questions makes this an even more interesting site to explore. So have you ever been to this popular spot? Or you wish to visit it anytime soon? Do let me know if this article was helpful for you in planning your visit to the caves. Visit this amazing location and get enriched in the history of the place.
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