Elephanta Caves are the must see architectural magnificence located at a close vicinity to Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra. Presently, this has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage for the wonderful artistic sculptures. The peaceful caves offer solace and peace to visitors from the chaotic urban life by time travelling to the previous era when the master craftsmen used to invest so much of their time and talent in building the sculptures the caves bear even today. There are two sections inside the cave- one is dedicated to the Hindus and the other to the Buddhists. The Hindu rock arts have the reminiscences of the rock sculptures of Lord Shiva, while the Buddhists ones have the inscriptions of the Jataka tales, Buddha, and events of their times. Elephanta Caves is a small replica of the magnanimous Ajanta and Ellora Caves which is around 300 Km from these caves near Mumbai.
The Elephanta Caves are located at Uran Taluka in Raigad district of Maharashtra. This is an island hill which is around 7 km from the Mumbai mainland. The close proximity to the city of Mumbai makes it feel that it is located in the city itself, but it is not. The latitude of the place is 18.9583 degrees N and longitude is 72.9306 degrees E approx.
The name Elephanta was named by the Portuguese immigrants in India. Previously the caves were known as Gharapuri. It is said that the caves were built back in the 7th century. The facts are not yet cleared that which dynasty took the initiative to build the caves. According to some discoverers, the prince of Chalukya Dynasty Pulkesin II built the shrine of Lord Shiva to commemorate his victory. The vastness and magnanimity of the caves and its sculptures have made the historians believe that this initiative can only be taken a royal dynasty of a powerful kingdom. Today, this is a must seen destination for tourists to Mumbai- Maharashtra.
November to March is the best time to visit the caves. Summers are pretty hot, monsoons are not that safe to explore the Elephanta Caves as the Arabian Sea nearby can be pretty turbulent. That’s why winter is chosen to be the best time to explore this wonder of the Maharashtra Tourism.
The Elephanta Caves remain closed on Mondays. Otherwise the caves are open for visitors all throughout the year from sunrise to sunset.
Indians have to pay Rs 10/head and foreigners have to pay Rs 250/head to enter the Caves. Children below 15 require no ticket to enter the caves.
The whole complex of the Elephanta Caves cover the area of 60,000 sq feet and according to research, it was created almost back to AD 600. Here, the Cave 1 is the best place to explore for perfect sculptures and for showcasing exquisite artwork. The caves are dedicated to Hindu Gods and offered to Buddhism as well. Parallel importance to the two most important religions is equally showcased here.
The East of the Caves consists of the Stupas in the two caves that are left unfinished. This portion of the caves is estimated to be dedicated to the Buddhists. The west of the Elephanta Caves is dedicated to the Hindus. Lord Shiva is the main idol here that is magnificent and proves the brilliant artwork of the master craftsmen. Alongside, the cave has a square mandala covering around 27meters. The rest of the five caves here have the images and sculptures of Lord Shiva in His different avatars.
Visitors are mainly attracted by the Uma Maheswara, Shivalingam, Kalyansundara, Ardhanarisara sculptures, Gangadhara, and the Trimurti.
By Air: The nearest Airport is the Mumbai International Airport.
By Train: The nearest station is Mumbai Central
To reach the Caves (that belong to the sightseeing of Mumbai) - travelers have to get into a boat (ferry service) from the Gateway of India. In 45 minutes, they can reach the hill island. Tickets are available from the Gateway of India. The two way tickets for adults cost Rs 150/head and Rs 90/head (children below 7). For the upper deck voyaging-tourists have to pay Rs 10 more. Both deluxe and economy ferry facilities are available here.