Visit Elephanta Caves(Gharapuri Caves): The Island of Caves in Mumbai (2023)
Elephanta Caves are in Mumbai. The Caves are popular among tourists, nature lovers, and those who love ancient architecture and have an interest in archaeology. The Elephanta Caves premises are an excellent location for groups, couples, and families to visit. The original name of the caves is Gharapuri, meaning, the place of caves.
You can spend a whole day at the Elephanta Caves and do what you like the most. You can explore Mumbai, take in some information about India’s culture and heritage, and buy trinkets that make your trip memorable and more valuable. The Elephanta Caves is a UNESCO site, and you will see many foreigners, as well as Indians, visiting the Elephanta Caves all through the year. Here is all the information you need to know before visiting Elephanta Caves.
How to Reach Elephanta Caves or Gharapuri Caves?
The Elephanta Caves are on an island on the coast of Mumbai. The only way to reach Elephanta Caves is via jetty ride. The jetty ride takes around an hour. You can take the jetty from the Gateway of India.
You need to check the timings of the jetty, as they work on a schedule. The first jetty for Elephanta leaves from Mumbai at 9 AM. The last jetty from Mumbai leaves at 2 PM.
The Gateway of India is in Churchgate, which is the last railway station in Southern Mumbai. To reach Churchgate, you need to board a train in the Western Railway line, which runs from Virar to Churchgate. You can also travel by bus, anyone that connects you to the Gateway of India. The road trip to Churchgate from Borivali should take you around 3 hours, depending on the traffic.
The trip to Elephanta Caves begins with a thrilling jetty ride. You get a magnificent view of the sea. If you are traveling in the correct season, you will also see flamingos flying away.
One pro tip is to be careful about what you photograph during the jetty trip. The sea is home to several naval ships and structures and photographing them is a crime. The jetty drivers will tell you not to take photographs, so take heed and do not.
The jetty ride gives you great visuals of the city of Mumbai. You see the Gateway of India and other iconic buildings as you wean away towards the Elephanta Caves.
The Elephanta Caves Experience
Once you get down from the jetty, you have some steps that take you to the main caves. It takes around an hour to get to the Elephanta caves, and the road has vendors on both sides. It is a crowded area, and you will see some porters helping the elderly and the infirm climb the steps in modern palanquins.
Once you reach the structure, you see the Elephanta Caves, the cave temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Experts say that the carvings are from the 5th or 7th Centuries. You see several sculptures and carvings out of rock dedicated to Hindu Gods and Buddhist ideology.
There are seven caves in all. Some of the architecture is damaged, and there is some discussion as to who did it. The common idea is that the British and the Portuguese carried out the destruction, but new research shows that it was not them.
Some carvings are narrations of ancient Hindu texts. You see a sculpture depicting Shiva slaying Andhaka. You also see the wedding of Shiva. For example, you see a carving of the three-faced Shiva, possibly the most famous carving in all of India, the carving of the Lord Nataraja, and another carving of Yogishvara.
You can spend hours and hours exploring the caves. You will see some tourist guides and some photographers who give you instant photos as a memory for your visit to the Elephanta.
It will be an exciting experience to visit the Elephanta caves or Gharapuri caves during the monsoons, but the jetties are not functional during extreme rains. Also, the journey from the base to the caves would be cumbersome during the rainy season, as there are vendors selling trinkets at both sides.
The Elephanta caves visit is one that calms your senses for at least a brief while, as you look around and see the creativity and resourcefulness of our ancestors. Another curious aspect of the island caves is that historians cannot pinpoint the exact origin of the caves, making it one of the biggest and popular structures in Mumbai without proper information about its origin.
The weather here, even though an island, is hot and humid during the summers and in the afternoon. So, pack that suntan, sunglasses, and hat while traveling to Elephanta.
The cost of traveling to Elephanta and back is minimal, but you do need to pay tickets at various points. The price of these tickets is different Indians and Foreign Nationals. So, make sure that you have ample cash and the ability to carry out digital transactions.
Some restaurants are serving your local and international cuisine. Tip for the tipplers – only one restaurant serves you a beer, and no hard liquor is available at the Elephanta Caves.
All in all, the visit to Elephanta Caves is a day-long excursion. If you undertake the steps, you will be tired and will not be able to do much else for the rest of the day.
If you are Elephanta Caves and have returned by the late afternoon, you can spend a few hours in Churchgate itself, which has several places of cultural and contemporary interest. For example, right opposite the Gateway of India is the Taj, Mumbai. If you walk along, you will see the Jehangir Art Gallery, the Asiatic Society Library, Flora Fountain and many other places of contemporary importance. You do not even need to visit some specific destination to have a good time in Churchgate. A slow stroll along the place is a great opportunity to look at British time architecture and building ideas that are as strong as they are beautiful.