The last time I visited Elephanta Caves was in the year 2005. We recently went to Ajanta & Ellora Caves near Aurangabad and thought of exploring Elephanta Caves especially since the caves were so near.
We decided to go on a Saturday and everything just fell in place.
The Elephanta Caves are located on an island, about 11 Kms from Gateway of India (Apollo Bunder).
The most accessible way to reach Elephanta Caves is to take a 45 minutes ferry ride from Gateway of India. Normally every half an hour a ferry leaves from Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves. You can buy chips, wafers, mineral water and cold drinks from the ferry at an extra cost.
return ticket cost Rs. 180 per person, an extra Rs 10 per person if you want to
sit on the upper deck of the ferry. Once you reach the Elephanta Jetty it is
half an hour ride to reach the caves. You can take a toy train for Rs 10 per
person for the return journey from the jetty to the feet of the caves.
|Gateway of India|
The first boat starts from the Gateway at 9:00 am and the last one back from the Island is at 5:00 pm. The caves are closed on Monday.
The boat ride in itself is a part of the Elephanta Caves experience. As we moved away from the harbor we were surrounded by flocks of sea gulls hoping for a few crumbs of food.
One could see the magnificent Gateway of India and the iconic The
Taj fading and enjoy the skyline of the city. You could see numerous ships and
boats of different shapes and size.
|Sea Gulls following the ferry|
The name “Elephanta” came originated with the Portuguese, after they found a massive elephant structure on the island in the 18th Century A.D. This is now displayed at the Jijamata Gardens in Mumbai.
Once we reached the island, there was a mad rush to take the toy train. Since it was hot, we were busy buying mineral water and raw mangoes to taste. There are small tuck shops selling raw mangoes, berries, star fruits, tamarind sprinkled with chillies and salt. By the time we started to move, the toy train had already left. We simply walked alongside the toy train route and reached the steps leading to the caves.
steps leading to the caves are lined on both side by shops selling jewellery, T
shirts, artifacts, trinkets, wrap around skirts etc. The shops were very well
organized and no shop keeper was after me to buy something from their shop. Due
to this it was quite fun to climb up the steps at your own pace looking at the
interesting things on display for sale.
I reached the caves, I realized that the caves were very neat and clean. You
need to take a ticket to go inside the caves which is Rs. 10 for Indian and Rs
250 for foreigners.
|Toy Train on the Island|
|Display at the shops|
The Main Cave:
There are seven caves here, but the most fascinated and the only cave worth seeing is Cave No. one. The entire cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it depicts Shiva in various postures.
A little off centre is a temple with a lingam inside. The temple has entrances on four sides and there are eight guards at the corner of the temple.
me take you along with me and show you some of the sculptures.
|Lingam In Cave 1 of Elephanta Cave|
The main and most interesting sculpture of this cave is - The Trimurti. It is named so as it has three heads, and is thus considered to be the Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. A closer look at this sculpture will tell you that this is actually the three faces of Lord Shiva himself. The central face, which is the calm and the serene face, is the creative side of Shiva, the Creator. The right face of the Lord (left for us) is the Destroyer, represented with a snake in the hand and the left face is the Preserver, with a lotus in hand.
next to the Trimurti is beautiful sculpture depicting Lord Shiva as Ardhanareeshwara
– half man, half woman.
Shiva in the Yoga pose:
The next carving depicts Ravana lifting Mount Kailash. Unfortunately,
the lower portion of the figure is completely spoilt and we can hardly see
|Lord Shiva in yoga pose|
|Ravana lifting Kailash|
This is the carving which shows the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Again, this is such a detailed carving but has been ruined.
|Lord Shiva & Parvati marriage|
He next carving shows the slaughter of demon Andhakasura.
|Slaughter of Demon Andhakasura|
The final carving in here is the very famous Nataraja.
On the eastern wing of this cave, we saw another lingam and a sculpture of Lord Shiva, Ganesh and Kartikeya.
|Ganesha & Kartikeya with Lord Shiva|
We wanted around the rest of the caves for a while, but there was nothing interesting. We decided to head back. On the way back, we took the toy train to go back to the ferry. The ride back was quiet and we again saw the sea gulls. We saw the skyline of Mumbai surfacing in front of our eyes and gradually the iconic Taj.
|Gateway of India & Taj|
With this we ended our visit to Elephanta Caves.
Points to remember:
- You can take a ferry from The Gateway of India for Elephanta Caves. It is a 45mins ride. The ferry ride is closed during monsoons.
- Ferry Timing:
- Gateway to Elephanta : 9 am to 2 pm
- Elephanta to Gateway : 12 noon to 5:30 pm
- The cost of the ferry return ticket is Rs. 180 per person.
- Elephanta Caves are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. and are closed on Monday.
- Entry Fee is Rs 10 for Indians and Rs 250 for foreigners. Free Entry below 15 years of age.
- Beware of monkeys.