Elephanta Island is a famous tourist destination situated to the East of Mumbai and is about 10 km from the Gateway of India. If you are planning a day trip then Elephanta Island could be a perfect choice for you. The island has an area of 16 km² with a population of about 1200. There are three villages in the island: Shentbandar, Morabandar, and Rajbandar.
Local people of this area calls this island as Gharapuri which means Place of Caves. The Portuguese explorers gave it a name of Elephanta in the 17th Century.
This lush green island is a mix of hills, sea, jungles and rock cut caves that dates back to the 9th century. This island is a perfect Paradise for all the photographers like me. Apart from photographing the ancient art works inside the caves, you also get the chance to snap out some beautiful landscapes. I love light and shadow photography and I got immense opportunities to perform this art of photography inside the caves. You would also find many monkeys on your way to the caves and yes they could also become your good photography subject.
There are five caves in this island. These caves are believed to be created during the Gupta Dynasty around the 9th Century. It is at this time Shaivism flourished in India and several leading Shaivites of that time initiated this activity of building caves from the hills to stay there and worship the Hindu God Shiva. Among the 5 caves Cave 1 is the finest and biggest of all. You would be thrilled to see the rock cut architectures of this cave. There are numerous sculptures on the walls of this cave which perfectly depicts the rich, old heritage of India. The sculptures are mostly of the Hindu deities Shiva, Parvati, Brahma, Vishnu. You will also get to see lots of temples inside these magnificient rock cut caves dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. To preserve these rich and precious art works UNESCO in the year 1987 declared this place as a World Heritage Site.
PLAN FOR TRAVEL
There are many trains that goes to Mumbai CST. From Mumbai CST hire a taxi and reach the Gateway of India. Fare would be around 25 INR. There you will get luxury boats for the elephant caves and these boats usually leave at every 10 to 15 minutes interval. The fares of the two way journey for these boats are 120 INR and 130 INR respectively for the lower deck and the upper deck. It will take around one hour to reach the Elephanta Island and believe me you will surely enjoy the boat ride.
From the landing station of the Elephanta Caves you can either take a toy train to reach the main island or else you can take a 1km walk. The fare of the toy train is 10 INR for the 2 way journey.
You can take any boat from the Elephanta Island to get back to the Gateway of India and yes don’t forget to capture the beautiful Taj hotel and the Gateway of India from the boat.
FOODING AND LODGING
There is a MTDC resort in this island where you can stay leaving behind all the daily stresses of your routine, monotonous life. Apart from availing food of the resort you can also try food in the nearby numerous stalls. These stalls usually closes at the evening time.