Boats to Elephanta Island leave from Gateway of India. They leave every half an hour during the day, except Mondays when the caves on Elephanta Island are closed. I bought my ticket just by the boat and a return ticket was Rs 120 (June 2010). Be aware of hawkers trying to sell you tours to the island. It took just over an hour to go to Elephanta Island.
At Elephanta Island the ferry stops at the end of a long pier. It doesn’t take many minutes to walk to the stairs leading up to the caves, but if you want you can take a miniature train this short distance. Along the way there are people selling guidebooks and souvenirs.
When I visited Elephanta Island I met an Indian couple and luckily we travelled with the same boat back to Mumbai. First we sat on the roof, but when the rain again started to pour down we went downstairs. There were no available seats so we had to stand the rest of the journey. The rain continued to pour down and we docked by a ferry terminal. It turned out we couldn’t continue because of the weather conditions, it was to dangerous to go to Gateway of India. I was glad I was not alone as it was not to easy to go back to Colaba. We took a bus somewhere and when we were waiting for another bus we were told that Dockyard Road train station was near and we could get a train from there to CST train station. From CST I chose to walk back to Colaba. The rain was not so heavy anymore and I was wearing rain jacket and trousers.
Elephanta Island is a popular day trip from Bombay for tourists and locals alike. Boats leave about every 15 minutes from Apollo Bunder, the dock by the Gateway of India and take an hour to get to the island. Some boats are a touch sturdier and faster than the others, and cost a touch more, but the difference is small. Once you arrive on the island, you'll have to walk the long pier, or take a slow train that drops you at the ticket office and local village. From there, you'll have to walk a long path uphill to get to the actual caves. If that's too much for you, you could hire four locals to carry you on a seated stretcher up the path.
Note: Allow yourself a minimum of two hours on the island, for a total of a four hour trip from Bombay.
These guys are waiting for you at the bottom of the steps that lead you up from the jetty to the cave entrance. They're there beside wooden chairs known as palanquins in order to carry you up the steps as there are well over 100 steps to the top, if not, over 200. This, of course, doesn't come for free and I suppose you would have to negotiate a price with them first. They look pretty bored so I don't expect they get a lot of business so you could hire one just for fun!
When you arrive on Elephanta Island, it's quite some walk from where the ferry drops you off at the end of the jetty to the caves. To solve this problem, there's a miniature train that runs along the jetty to near where steps are located that take you up to the ticket counter. The train only costs Rs8 but it was full up when I arrived so I didn't get a chance to ride on it and so had to walk. The train doesn't go that fast and to be honest it's probably quicker to walk than to hang around and wait for it to leave.
Ferries to Elephanta Island are available from behind the Gateway of India. I took a "deluxe" one which cost Rs120 return, Rs20 more than a standard ferry but I couldn't tell the difference between them. You can only return on a deluxe ferry if you set off on one. The ferries leave every 30 minutes or so from 9am-2pm and return from 1pm-5pm. Tickets are available from small booths near the Gateway of India on the Apollo Bunder. The ferry offers great photo opportunites of the Gateway of India from the ocean side. On the way to Elephanta Island, which takes about an hour, you'll pass by 'Middle Ground', a fortress, island and long jetties that connect ships to Butcher Island.
I’m not sure I can really call this a train, its more like a children’s amusement however I took it because it was organised for me and pretty much everyone else did too just for the novelty of it. It is not like the walk of the pier is any great length, in fact I walked it on the return as waiting for the train to come back would have taken too long. You pile into this little contraption which seats 2 comfortably each side of the wagons and chug at 2kms p/h at best. We had a little breakdown enroute and I was prepared to get out and walk but it kicked into life again and we finished the last few metres in style.
Boats leave from Apollo Bunder around every half-hour from 9 am to 2 pm and between 1 pm and 5 pm from Elephanta Island. You can buy tickets at the booths near the Gateway or you can book a tour with the MTDC. The boat services are suspended during the monsoon season.
Ferries leave from Apollo Bunder at the Gateway of India for Elephanta Island. You may find yourself crossing over one or two other boats just to get to your ferry moored on the outside of the others. The ride takes around 1 hour each way. You can sit on the lower covered deck or upstairs – which in Summer may prove to be way too hot. Try and pick a calm day as even then you will get a little of a bumpy ride. There is a sign on the boat which says no photography. No one took any notice of this and in fact I believe it more pertains to the taking of photos of the naval base there as my guide told me to make sure I did not take photos of that area as we passed by.
The toy train is a highly polluting diesel engine train that is used for a short ride to go from the ferry jetty to the entrance to the steps that lead up to the caves. It is actually a tourist trap as well since it is just a few minutes walk upto the steps and you have to climb up anyway after that!!! The price of the ticket is Rs4 one way or Rs8 for the return journey. Not really worth it when you can reach faster on your own steam!!! Essentially a joy ride for small kids at the most. Would not recommend anyone to take it unless they are not fit enough to walk!!!
If you think you cannot make it up the steps that lead to the Elephanta Caves then the other option is the chair car!!! Well, not exactly a car but just a chair with two wooden poles on it's sides that four men use to pick you up along with the chair and transport you up to the caves entrance!!! Many old people who cannot climb up the many steps use this mode of transport to go up to the caves. Do bargain hard to get a good price or else they will literally take you for a royal ride up the steps!!! HAHAHA!!!
There are two types of motor launches (ferry boats) that leave from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Island every day except Mondays when the caves are closed. The luxury boat costs Rs110 and the semi luxury boat costs Rs100 per person for the return journey. The Gateway Elephanta Jal-Vahatuk Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit (The Gateway Elephanta Motor Launch Cooperative Society Limited) is the ticket issuing authority for all the boats and it is a fixed price for both categories of boats. The tickets can be bought on the boat or from the many counters outside the Gateway of India. The journey time is a little less than an hour and the boats usually do not operate in the monsoon season if it is raining or if the seas are very stormy. The boats sometimes have an upper deck for which you may have to pay an extra Rs10 if you wish to go up.
Picture of Fazahar and Aadil at the Elephanta Ferry Boat Ticket Booking Counters by sha_stallion@VT.
At the peer at Gharapuri Island there is a small train the ticket of which is very cheap but also the distance it covers is very small so why not enjoying the sea and the views it offers while walking to the bottom of the steps which climb up to the caves..
You need a boatride of about 1 hour to reach Gharapuri Island and its Elephanta Caves.
The peer is just down the Gateway of India.
The ordinary fare costs 80 Rs., the luxury 100 Rs. (about 1,70 €), then a fee of 5 Rs. to enter the island.
There are boats to Elephanta Islands from the Gate of India. They cost 85 Rs and take 1 hour to get there. Buy the tickets just there, by the boat, and don't pay more than 85 Rs!!