About 10 kilometers to the east of Mumbai, lies the island of Elephanta. A true example of Hindu cave culture, it consists of seven caves which can be divided into two groups. The first is a large group of 5 Hindu caves while the second is a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves are the glorious abode of Lord Shiva. Nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, this unique island is not only a worthy destination in itself, but it also provides a great view of Mumbai’s skyline and is a perfect escape from the chaos of the city.
The origins of these temple caves is still quite vague, though there are believed to date back to about the 7th century. The island was originally a Hindu place of worship and was called Gharapuri, until the Portuguese rule began in 1534. They renamed it Elephanta after they found a large stone statue of an elephant near their landing place. Unfortunately, the figure collapsed in 1814 and has been reassembled and placed in the garden outside the Bhau Daji Lad Museum at Jijamata Udyan in Mumbai. Moreover, many of Elephanta’s priceless statues were damaged or destroyed by the Portuguese, who apparently used the Hindu gods for target practice.
Entry Fee for Elephanta Caves
Foreigners: Rs 250/-
Indians: INR Rs 10/-