A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Elephanta Caves are situated on Elephanta Island off the southeast coast of Mumbai. The island comprises two sets of Hindu and Buddhist caves. The set of caves depicting Hindu Traditions and Lord Shiva are the more popular ones and are carved out of stone.
The Great Cave is the most prominent part of the group and was a centre of worship for Hindus before the Portuguese took over this region and with them brought considerable damage to the caves. The caves were later renovated and designated a World Heritage Site Status by UNESCO in 1987.
Highlights and Features
The best attraction here, apart from the caves themselves, is the journey to them. Reached by ferries that leave every 30 minutes from the historic Gateway of India overlooking The Taj Mahal Hotel, the 45-minute boat ride is an amazing one, offering picturesque views of the mainland. The island is primarily composed of two hills and the one on the western side has five caves. On the eastern side you’ll find a stupa with two caves. Some on the eastern hill are in a restricted area that has been marked as a buffer zone. Local traditions claim that the caves are not manmade and because of the absence of any inscriptions, very little knowledge about the actual makers of the caves can be confirmed.
According to Hindu Mythology however, the formation of these caves can be attributed to Pandava and Banasura – followers of Lord Shiva, the deity to whom these caves are dedicated. The mystery factor, their existence and their mesmerising charm make this a memorable day out.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, boats operate daily 09:00-14:30, last boat leaves Elephanta Island at 15:30
- Location: Elephanta Island off the southeast coast of Mumbai