The Cave you fear to enter, Holds the treasure that you seek !
The World Heritage Site of Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, honestly didn’t cross our minds when we visited the City of Dreams for the first time a decade ago. We only visited the most infamous places in the city from the Gateway to the Band Stand and others back then.
But this time around, in January 2021, I had in mind somewhere that we need to get there, to explore it, to experience the Island and the incredible journey leading to it – the Elephanta Boat Cruise. On this blog post today, I am gonna share with you lovely people about the full experience of the place that I had with my family. And tell you, Why Elephanta Caves in Mumbai is Worth Visiting if you happen to plan a trip to Bombae.
Brief Introduction to the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai
Anciently, referred as Gharapuri, the beautiful Elephanta Island is a beautiful collection of cave temples dedicated to the “Lord of all Lords” Shiva. It consists of a large connection of Stone Art formations all dedicated to the life of Lord Shiva.
The Elephanta Caves has set high standards in the minds of travelers and explorers around the world, as an absolutely perfect expression of Indian Art.
The Island of Gharapuri or Elephanta Island is a conglomeration of seven different cave structures, out of which five are dedicated to sculptures linking to Shiva and the two others are the Budhist Caves. The main attraction of all Hindu caves and the most important one is the Mahesa-murti cave or The First Cave that you encounter. The entrance to the cave is a 7 metre high sculptor called as the Sadashiva. It depicts the three major phases of Shiva’s being : the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer!
If you are a history buff or a mythology enthusiast, you may find this place very interesting. You can find many important events from the Hindu Scripts depicted beautifully on the pillars and walls of the caves. Some of these are – images of Ardhanarisvara, Kalyana-Sundara Shiva, Slaying of Andakha Demon, Ravana lifting Mount Kailasa and others.
A little history of the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai
The complete cave complex is said to be excavated sometime in the 8th Century by the Rashtrakuta Kings, who ruled the area during this time.
The Island remained intact as a divine place of worship for Hindus up until the Portuguese took over in 1500s. The caves suffered insane amounts of damage during their rule and what you see today – the caves in ruins, are what remained when they left. They even used some of the great artistic structures as mere target practice objects for training the soldiers.
Regardless of so many years of the Portuguese rule, what remain intact was the incredible Trimurti sculpture standing at a height of 6 meters showcasing the three phases of Lord Shiva.
There also used to be a large elephant statue at the entrance of the caves. It was believed to be The Guardian of the Caves. When the Portuguese rulers arrived that was the first thing they saw and got mesmerized by Indian Sculptures. It is now been shifted to the Victoria Garden Zoo in Mumbai.
Getting to the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai
The very first major thing we did at this trip to Mumbai was visiting the Elephanta Island. But the most interesting part of the trip to Elephanta, was definitely the Journey – The Blue Waters of the Arabian Sea, The Incredible Boat Cruise experience and the Seagulls! Yes, that’s the most interesting part!
YOUR COMPANIONS IN THE J0URNEY – SEAGULLS
These beautiful and very hungry creatures are your companions throughout your journey to and from the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai.
Note – It is recommended that you take something to feed these birdies as you experience the vibes of the journey
Note#2 – Be cautious! As eating so much might make the birdies go boom boom on your heads or shoes… 😛
BUY YOUR TICKETS!!
To get to the Elephanta Caves, one needs to buy tickets from the local vendors situated near the Gateway of India. You can also book tickets from the official site of Maharashtra Tourism. (https://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/treasures/cave/elephanta-cave)
After getting your tickets, you will see your Boat Cruise waiting to get loaded up by local couples and enthusiastic travelers.
This Journey, atleast for me, was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had while travelling. I felt the infamous quote by Farhan Akhtar in ZNMD. I felt each word of it, as we moved forward towards the island.
You will get to see many cargo ships spread over the area, resting or cruising around you.
THE NATURAL MOVIE SCENE
As we moved forward, another incredible creature entered. A predator. A Falcon! The seagulls panicked and started to run away as far as they could. The Falcon looked as if its searching for the perfect opportunity. It was a really incredible scene.
Imma say it right here. Even if visiting caves is not your thing, you need to visit this place just for this experience. Yes you can do this at many places, but this experience is just inexplicable. A World of It’s Own.
TOY TRAIN TO ELEPHANTA ENTRANCE
It takes around one and a half hour to reach the beautiful Elephanta Caves in Mumbai from Gateway Harbor. Your boat cruise will drop you at the Harbor. From where you can get tickets for a small toy train journey of around 5 minutes towards the trek entrance. Yes! There’s a trek involved. A Straight Climb.
You can also choose to walk if you don’t want the train. No problemos’ there.
Next, starts the trek. It is a steep climbing trek, with lots and lots of stairs and lots and lots of locals selling souvenirs and local jewelries, etc. Also, you will find many food stalls and small restaurants to eat from. Try the local fried fish at one of the foodstops if you’re into it.
BEWARE THE MONKEYS
Being at the center of an island with lush greeneries, monkeys are to be seen – in huge groups. And the thing to note here is – THAT THEY WILL STEAL ANYTHING THEY CAN!! Yes, they stole our water bottle. Not stole, per say, but what would you do if a Dangerous looking Monkey jumps straight in front of you and shows off his teeth? You give him what he wants and surrender yourself at the fate of the mighty.
After all the struggles, you finally reach the cave entrance. And you feel relieved. Explore the caves and the amazing sceneries surrounding it as you want but remember to return back before the clock hits 6.00 in the evening. That’s the time for the last boat cruise to leave for Gateway for the day.
The caves and it’s historical importance and designs kept aside, the place itself is marvelous. With lush greenery of the jungle surrounding it. The views of the nearby hills make way for an inner peace of some sort when you look at and realize what a beautiful world we live in.
We spent some time over there clicking some incredible landscape photographs, and then headed back down the stairs. We had Maggi while waiting for our cruise back.
Also, another important thing to note – Monkeys are not the only ones to be afraid of while at the Elephanta Caves. Another animal in the list is the Holy COW. First time ever I saw a Cow being so aggressive. (hmm, maybe she found out about the beef scenario going on). They could push you away or even put their mouths on your hands if they saw you eating something.
Our Trip to the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai was kinda like – An interesting blended tour with great sceneries, lush greenery, a couple of hungry birdies and aggressive domestic animals!
How much does it cost? Really?
Well, you might think that the package passes which you get from the local vendors from the Gateway of India in Mumbai are enough for the tour. But that’s not the case. Let’s calculate what it cost us in January 2021.
Elephanta Caves Cruise Pass (return) – Rs. 290/- per person
Toy Train (optional) – Rs. 10/- per person
Elephanta Caves Entrance Fee (per person)
|Entry Fee (Indian)||INR 40|
|Entry Fee (SAARC & BIMSTEC)||INR 40|
|Entry Fee (Foreigner)||INR 600|
|Entry Fee (Children below Age 15)||Free|
Total – Rs. 340/- per person.
We were three people, so it cost us around a thousand and twenty rupees. And that is SO worth it! Worth the incredible experience of the Boat Cruise, the Adventurous Trek to the Caves, the Picturesque surrounding areas of the infamous caves and so much more.
As we headed back on the cruise as the sun slowly set, I saw an incredible view of Mumbai and just felt why it’s called as the City of Dreams. Because that’s what it looked like. And it looked like a painting. A million thoughts crossed my mind. A million dreams. A million feelings.
It can’t be explained, but only felt. And that gives you another reason to Visit Mumbai and explore the Arabian Sea on an Incredible Cruise. And to visit the Island of Elephanta.