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Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Located in the Arabian sea, 6 kilometers east of Mumbai, Elephanta Caves, also known as Gjarapuri Island, or Pory Island, is a medieval Hindu grottoes, a famous ancient architectural complex, as well as an outstanding representative of Indian grottoes. In 1987, Elephanta Caves was listed as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO, attracting numerous tourists visiting. Presenting many reliefs and sculptures, Elephanta Caves mainly collects stone sculptures of worshiping god Shiva. At present, 5 grottoes are open to public, among which Shiva Temple is the best one to visit.        

History of Elephanta Caves

From 450 - 750, during the period of Buddhism falling and Hinduism rising, Elephanta Caves was started to be excavated. Then in 16th century, when Portuguese colonized India, Elephanta Caves was completely excavated. It is said that Elephanta Caves was named so due to an Elephant-shaped stone carving, the original of which has disappeared. The existing carvings were rebuilt in 19th. In 1987, with comparable scale, landscape, and artistic values to any of the most famous grottoes in the world, it was accepted to be a cultural heritage by UNESCO.

What to see inside Elephanta Caves               

Belonging to Malatha sect of Hindu architecture, Elephanta Caves was constructed based on huge stones and rocks. The whole stone construction and sculptures are integrated and creating a spectacular scenery. The grottoes are imposing and magnificent, which is mainly caved from the outside to inside, forming a wonderful underground heaven. Modeled after the setting of mandalas in Hindu religious ceremonies, Elephanta Caves is unique in India’s grottoes history since the 6th century.

There are many stone carvings worshiping god Shiva inside the caves. Through carvings in grottoes, especially those high and huge reliefs presented in main caves, Indian art have represented perfectly. The themes of these sculptures are mainly related to Hinduism, including legendary stories of god Shiva, one of three great Hindu gods, and also scenes of life of ancient Indians. The most famous is the statue of god Shiva with a height of 5.5 meters in the 5th grottoes. This is a three-faced god statue, with a solemn face on the front representing the god of creation, a ferocious face on the left representing the destroyer, and on the right is a saint with smile representing god of patron. Besides, the carvings of gods’ dancing, god Shiva behead demons, and Shiva’s love are also rare masterpieces in the world.  

How to Tour Elephanta Caves

There are two main axis inside the grottoes. The north-south axis extends from the main gate to the inside of grottoes, and along the axis scattering the key statues complexes. The east-west axis stretches from the side gate to the god heaven inside grottoes. Walking through the god heaven of Elephanta Caves, tourists can see many reliefs with unique styles along the east-west axis.                            

How to get to Elephanta Caves

To get there, passengers can take ferries at Gateway of India, which takes less than 1 hour. A single trip costs about 100 rupees.
Entry Fee
250 Rupees
9:00 - 17:00, except Mondays
How Much Time to Spend
2 -3 hours

See More Famous Attractions in Mumbai:

Jogeshwari Caves - India’s Largest Cave Temple

Flora Fountain - Famous for Its Water, Building, Music and Sculpture

Hanging Gardens - The Highest Point of the Whole City

Marine Drive - A Great Place to Relax and Enjoy Sunset