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Elephanta Caves in Mumbai

The Elephanta Caves, famous worldwide, are located a few kilometers from Mumbai on Elephanta Island. The caves are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Hence, the carvings inside narrate Hindu mythologies, with the large monolithic 20 feet of Trimurti Sadashiva (three-faced Shiva), Nataraja (Lord of Dance), and Yogishvara (Lord of Yoga) being the most celebrated. Not just in Maharashtra, the Elephanta Caves are one of India's most important historical sites.

These incredible caves are divided into 2 distinct sections, one of which contains caves related to Hinduism, while the other consists of caves associated with Buddhism. Due to the marvelous craftsmanship and historical significance, Elephanta Caves were included in the list of world heritage by UNESCO in the year 1987.

Elephanta Caves history

The Elephanta Caves are known for their magnificent sculptures of mythological deities. Among these, the idol of Trimurti Shiva is the most popular.

The Elephanta caves are recorded from the time of the defeat of the Mauryan rulers of Konkan by the Badami Chalukya Emperor Pulakeshin II. During that period, the caves were known as Puri or Purika, and Gharapuri Island (now Elephanta Island) was formerly the capital of the Konkan Mauryas.

But some historians have different opinions about it. The history of these caves is also associated with the Portuguese. It is said that the Portuguese, who had possession here in the 16th century, named the island ‘Elephanta’ because of the presence of a massive statue of an elephant.

The history of the famous caves of Elephanta is not precise, and every historian has something different to say about it. Moreover, no concrete evidence exists of when or who built these caves. However, some scholars believe that the Pandavas built them. At the same time, some think that Shiva devotee Banasura made the Vidhana Elephanta caves.

Elephanta Caves Architecture

The entire complex of Elephanta Caves is a built-in rock-cut style on an area of 60,000 sq ft. The complex consists of seven caves, and the main cave was a Hindu place of worship during Portuguese rule. It has a pillar pavilion, open entrances, and a corridor. The cave's walls are beautifully carved with stone and can be seen in the form of idols of many deities.

There are 7 caves in its complex, of which 5 caves belong to Hinduism, while the other two caves belong to Buddhism. Cave 1 of Elephanta Cave, located on Gharapuri Island, is known as the Great Cave, inside which are many sculpted idols of Lord Shiva. In the center of this cave, there are Trimurti (3 idols) dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is known as Sadasiva.

Another idol of Lord Shiva in this cave depicts Shiva bringing the Ganges to the earth. Elephanta Caves 2 to 5 are known as Cannon Hill. There are Stupa Hills for Caves 6 and 7. Cave 6 is also called Sitabai Cave, and a pond next to Cave 7 is known as the Buddhist Pond.

Elephanta Caves Location

The famous caves of Elephanta are located about 11 kilometers from Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Elephanta Caves Timings

Tourists can visit Elephanta Caves every week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

It is noteworthy that the caves remain closed on Mondays.

Elephanta Caves Ticket Price

  • Children up to 15 years old can visit Elephanta Caves for free.
  • Indian citizens: INR 10 per person.
  • Foreign Nationals: INR 250 per person

Best Time to Visit Elephanta Caves

The best time to visit Elephanta Caves is from November to February. The climate between these months remains pleasant and is suitable for exploring the site. Avoid the peak monsoon season (June to August) as the sea tides become unpredictable and ferry schedules get disrupted. Early morning is the best time to visit the Elephanta Caves.

How to Reach Elephanta Caves

One can take a ferry from the Gateway of India to reach Elephanta Island. There are two types of ferries available: luxury and economy. The earliest ferry leaves the Gateway of India jetty at 9:00 am and takes you to Elephanta Island in about an hour. After that, the ferry leaves every half hour from the Gateway of India for Elephanta, with the last going at 02:00 pm. The first ferry returns from Elephanta at noon and the last at 05:30 pm. During the Elephanta Festival, special launch services are provided for the guests.

Fast Facts About Elephanta Caves

  • A giant statue of an elephant guards the island. This elephant now resides in the Victoria Garden Zoo. The Portuguese renamed it Elephanta after they found a big stone elephant near their landing place.
  • The Portuguese invaded and captured the area in 1547, and the Portuguese soldiers used the statue for target practice.
  • Portuguese soldiers removed the writing on the statues, the only source and essential clues about the makers of caves and statues.

If you are planning to visit Elephanta Caves, then you must check out our Mumbai tour packages.


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