|By Christian Haugen - Elephanta Caves, CC BY 2.0, |
Elephanta Island is located in the state of Maharashtra just 10 kilometer to the east of Mumbai city and small ferry boats are available from Gate way of India which offer paid rides to the Island , the journey may take 40 to 45 minutes.
The Island is present on the Arabian sea and it is surrounded by beautiful nature full of tropical deciduous trees like mango , tamarind. Besides these the Island has two groups of ancient cave temples carved from the rocks which have been attracting thousands of tourists especially from outside India
The caves all together are called the Elephanta caves , the first group of caves are the Hindu caves and they represent the Shaiva art and are dedicated to lord Shiva and they are also the main caves.
The second group of caves has two small Buddhist caves.
The caves are carved from solid basalt rock , the caves dates back to 5th and 8th centuries ,the caves were all painted originally in the past, but only traces remain at present.The caves were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 to preserve the ancient art since the caves suffered severe damage after the Portuguese rule .
The main cave is a masterpiece of ancient art and architecture and it also called great cave , it has four doors and the cave is divided into small chambers by rows of pillars , the walls of the caves are mostly carved by various forms of lord Shiva like Nataraja (lord of dance) , Yogeswara (lord of Yoga) , Ardhanarishwara and Gangadhara .The unique style of art through which the sculptures are carved is what has made the site world famous.
The site is now under the maintenance of Archaeological survey of India and it has been recorded that the site receives 25,000 visitors every year especially from outside India , Special traditional dance programmes are conducted at the site during the UNESCO world heritage week observed during the month of November which is another major attraction for tourism.
Amazing fact : A book has been published jointly by UNESCO, INTACH and the Government of India which contains the site plan for the restoration of the site and also brief history of all the sculptures of the Elephanta caves.
Location : Gharapuri, Maharashtra 400094
Timings : The best time to Visit Elephanta caves is during the UNESCO world heritage week observed during the month of November.
The ferry boat service to the Elephanta caves will be between 9 AM to 2 PM on all day of the week except on Mondays when the caves remain closed.
Luxury boat : Rs. 150
Ordinary boat : Rs. 130