Elephanta Island, Mumbai

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  • Local restaurant and accommodation
    Local restaurant and accommodation
    by ranger49
  • Boat to Elephanta Island faree Rs120 (Jun 09)
    Boat to Elephanta Island faree Rs120...
    by Sambawalk
  • The Elephanta Caves
    The Elephanta Caves
    by Sambawalk
  • goutammitra's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Caves of Bombay- 2.

    by goutammitra Updated Mar 21, 2007

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    There are three entrances to the main temple in the complex- from the north, east and west. The main gallery is divided by columns into equal rows and aisles. To the west, and outside this area, is a square sanctuary containing a monolithic Linga.

    The huge, high-relief works in the main cave, on both sides of the three entrances and on the south wall, are characteristic of the cult of Siva and considered to be among the most perfect expressions of Indian art of their time. The most well-known is the six metre high Trimurti, showing Siva in the three roles of creator, preserver and destroyer. This sculpture is supposed to be one of the centerpieces of the Indian sculptural tradition. Other panels include representations of Siva as Ardhanarisvara (part female), Kalyana-sundara and Nataraja.

    Known as Gharapuri since the time of the Konkani Mauryas, the island's present name is due to a sculpture of an elephant found here. This piece was moved to the Bhau Daji Ladd museum near the Jijamata Udyan in Bycullah, where it can still be seen.

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  • kenmerk's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island

    by kenmerk Written Dec 30, 2004

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    Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

    Most famous of the sites around Mumbai is most likely Elephanta Island in the muddy waters of Mumbai harbour. Here you will find a series of old Hindi temple/caves carved into the sheer rock of the island.

    Our guide out here was complaining because in the colonial days, the Portuguese used to come out here and practice their sharp shooting on the statues. Still all and all for 1500 year old work, the caves are in remarkably good condition....

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  • atufft's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island

    by atufft Written May 2, 2007

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    Cave Temple at Elephanta Island
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    Elephanta Island (also called Gharapuri Island or place of caves) is one of a number of islands in Mumbai Harbour, east of Mumbai, India. This island is a popular tourist destination for a day trip because of the island's cave temples, the Elephanta Caves, that have been carved out of rock. The island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai, being about 10 km from the south east coast of the island city. Boats leave daily from the Gateway of India, taking about an hour each way for the journey. From the boat landing stage on the island, a walkway leads to steps that go up to the famous caves. Along the path, hawkers sell souvenirs that may bought at a reasonable price. There are also stalls to buy food and drinks. Known in ancient times as Gharapuri, the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic sculpture of an elephant head found here near the entrance. This sculpture has since been moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum (aka Dr Bhau Daji lad Museum) in Mumbai. The island has an area of 16 km² (6 sq miles). It is located at approximately 18.95° N 72.93° E. The area comes under the jurisdiction of the Raigad district in Maharashtra State. A narrow gauge train takes tourists along the 1 km pier to the base of the steps which lead to the caves. The island is thickly wooded with palm, mango and tamarind trees. The island has a population of about 1,200 involved in growing rice, fishing, and repairing boats. It was once the capital of a powerful local kingdom.

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Arts and Culture
    • Religious Travel

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  • atufft's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island, Part II

    by atufft Written May 2, 2007

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    Rock Cut Elephanta Island Temple
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    This UNESCO World Heritage Site was probably finished some time between 450 and 750 AD, but some archeological remains found on the island are much older than this. The remarkable rock cut cave temples are devoted to the Hindu God Siva.

    There are three entrances to the main temple in the complex- from the north, east and west. The main gallery is divided by columns into equal rows and aisles. To the west, and outside this area, is a square sanctuary containing a monolithic Linga. The huge, high-relief works in the main cave, on both sides of the three entrances and on the south wall, are characteristic of the cult of Siva and considered to be among the most perfect expressions of Indian art of their time. The most well-known is the six metre high Trimurti, showing Siva in the three roles of creator, preserver and destroyer. This sculpture is supposed to be one of the centerpieces of the Indian sculptural tradition. Other panels include representations of Siva as Ardhanarisvara (part female), Kalyana-sundara and Nataraja.

    Known as Gharapuri since the time of the Konkani Mauryas, the island's present name is due to a sculpture of an elephant found here. This piece was moved to the Bhau Daji Ladd museum near the Jijamata Udyan in Bycullah, where it can still be seen.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Archeology
    • Arts and Culture

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  • smirnofforiginal's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island

    by smirnofforiginal Written Apr 27, 2010

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    At the Gateway of India you will find a line of ticket offices and a large number of touts - they want your business! The boat trips start around 0930 and leave approx every 30 minutes from the harbour. Once you have your ticket check which "gate" your boat is waiting at and climb aboard.
    Elephanta Caves are 9km from land and the boats are not speedy... treat this as a good 1/2 day trip from the city. Once on the island you can take the toy train or walk (the 5 minutes). There is an island tax to pay (minimal) and then of course an entrance fee to the caves (as always one price for Indians and add another 200INR at least for the foreigners!)
    Elephanta Caves are an UNESCO World Heritgae Site. If you have, in your Indian journies, already visited the Ellora Caves or the Ajanta Caves you are not going to bowled over BUT they are still VERY impressive and they get you away from the hustle and the bustle of Mumbai for the best part of a day!
    The caves were "created" circa AD450 & AD750 at a time when the island was known as Gharapuri.
    The temples are dedicated to Shiva and there is an incredible bust of Shiva with 3 faces and eyes closed which means eternal contemplation. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Elephanta.
    There are facilities on the island, a couple of cafés and a complete market of souvenirs lining the stairs to the caves entrance... haggle hard and if you see a fixed price lable make sure it doesn't magically remove itself prior to the sale!

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Family Travel

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  • ranger49's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Caves

    by ranger49 Updated Jan 15, 2010

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    The Elephanta Caves designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, are believed to have been created over 1500 years ago and are both an important ancient monument and a revered shrine of the Hindu religion. The mighty figures carved in to the 6 rock caves depict Shiva, most important of Hindu deities, the goddess Parvati his wife, and the quises assumed by Shiva in the form of half man,half woman. The complex story of battles between good and evil in which they were involved are represented in different sections of the Temple.

    It was unfortunate that the special lighting which apparently illuminates the temple was not working. The redoubtable Parsi guide we had met the day before did her best to find out if they could be switched on. A good deal of commotion and shouting followed to no avail and it waas very diificult to see the bas-relief decoration forwhich the caves are so famous. Nor was flash photography allowed in the caves and the few people who went ahead anyway were soon reprimanded by custodians.
    In spite of these minor disappointments it was a worthwhile visit providing another insight into the richness and diversity of Indian history and culture .

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island

    by Willettsworld Written Dec 16, 2007

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    Mahesamurti
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    Elephanta Island is located about 10km north-east of the Gateway of India and is reached by taking a ferry from the Gateway. The island is home to some marvellous cave temples which are thought to have been created between the 5th and 8th centuries and are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island, originally known as Gharapuri (Place of Caves), derives its name from a massive stone statue of an elephant that is now displayed in the Victoria Gardens in Mumbai. The island was named Elephanta by the Portuguese who found the statue.

    There are three rock-cut temples caves on the island of which the main large one is of particular interest as it's dedicated to Shiva. This is the first cave you'll come to on your right after passing through the ticket booth. It dates from the mid 7th century and comprises of a pillared hall in which a small shrine with four entrances are flanked with huge guardians either side. The halls main sculpture is located in the central panel of the back wall. It features a huge triple-headed Shiva statue known as Mahesamurti. The three faces represent Shiva in his different manifestations - Preserver, Creator and Destroyer. The hall also features further incarnations of Shiva. The island makes for a good half-day trip from Mumbai. More info and photo's can be found on my Elephanta Island page below.

    Open: 9am-5pm Tues-Sun. Closed Mondays. Admission: Rs250 for foreigners.

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    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

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  • AlettaCrofton's Profile Photo

    Visit Elephanta Island

    by AlettaCrofton Updated Jan 13, 2011

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    Purchase a
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    Catch a taxi or walk to the Gateway, purchase a "legal" ticket for the boat trip to Elephanta Island at the ticket counter and board the boat - there is one leaving the Gateway every 20 minutes. At the island, walk or catch a little train to the foot of the hill on top of which the caves are. Again, choose to either walk up the interesting steps with many little shopping stalls or pay to be carried up by four men. Purchase a ticket to enter the caves and go and explore. The Elephanta Caves have been declared a world heritage site, so it is worthwhile seeing.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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  • Gnome's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island

    by Gnome Written Aug 24, 2002

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    This is a small island about 1 hour from Bombay, where there are many old temples and ruins. It is worth a day trip if you are stuck in Bombay, although I was very tempted to put it in the Tourist Trap section. The boat trip out to the island is interesting, and there are some nice little markets on the island itself. The temples and ruins on the island were a bit of a disappointment, as they are in very poor condition. However, if you use your imagination (like me), you should be able to appreciate what it must have looked like hundreds of years ago. The boat trip is a real eye-opener, as this has to be one of the most disgustingly dirty harbours in the entire world.

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  • Sambawalk's Profile Photo

    Elephanta Island - UNESCO World Heritage Site

    by Sambawalk Updated Aug 18, 2009
    The Elephanta Caves
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    The Elephanta Caves are caves located on Elephanta Island in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai, India that contain Shaivistic high reliefs in stone of Hindu deities important to worshipers of Shiva. The sculptures were created beginning in the late Gupta Empire, or some time after, and at later dates. Elephanta Island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

    Boat to Elephanta Island return fare Rs120 (Jun 09),. You need to pay extra Rs10 (one way) if you want to sit on the upper deck of the boat. You should do at least one way.

    The boat ride takes about 1 hour. Be prepare to stay 1-2 hours for the caves (with a tea or lunch):-))))

    Admission to the caves cost foreigners Rs250. (Jun 09)

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