Elephanta Island, an island at Mumbai Harbour, is a major tourist attraction in Mumbai. Also known as Gharapuri Island, it is the house of the famous Elephanta Caves, that have been carved out of rock. The path to the caves is littered with shops selling artefacts and souvenirs like jewellery, showpieces, toys, etc.
How to reach
You reach Elephanta Island by taking a ferry from Gateway of India in Mumbai. The ferry ride costs Rs 180 and its timings are from 8am to 4pm. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the island. The ferry ride is very scenic and beautiful. You also get to see sea gulls in the winter.
Elephanta caves is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. This has helped a lot in the preservation of this ancient heritage structure. The statues in the caves are damaged as the Portuguese used to do target training with them. The Trimurti is the only statue that is undamaged. In spite of this, developmental pressures and normal wear and tear are a constant threat to this heritage site.
Nevertheless, the caves are beautiful and mesmerizing. The caves are divided into 2 parts – the Hindu Caves consisting of 5 caves, and the Buddhist Caves consisting of 2 caves. The Hindu caves are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The caves remain closed on Mondays and the monsoon.
Little did I know that Elephanta Island is an amazing place for bird and macro photography also. I found so many new birds there viz. Purple Sunbird, Straited Heron, Little Egret, Yellow Throated Sparrow, Red Whiskered Bulbul, and so on. It is great for macro photography also; some of the bugs I found there include, Red Silk Cotton Bug, Cicada, and so on.
I have made a vlog of my time at Elephanta Island. You can watch it right down below
In olden days, we did not get food on the island and had to carry huge tiffins for our trip. But now-a-days, you can find many restaurants here offering dosas, pav bhaji, and such Indian street food delicacies. Beware of the monkeys; they are cute but also can steal your food. One of them ran away with my water bottle.
The Cannon At The Top
Ahead of the caves, if you are up for a short trek, you will find two old cannons at the top. The walk can be a little difficult. You can skip this if you want, because there’s not much to see at the top except for those cannons and a view of the sea and harbour.
I went for this trip with DCP Expeditions. They organise amazing photo tours all around India and abroad as well.
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