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“Worth The Trip”
Review of Elephanta Caves

Elephanta Caves
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Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Elephanta Caves are situated on Elephanta Island about 7 kms from Mumbai’s mainland shore. The caves can be reached by an approx. 1-hour boat ride from Gateway of India.
Mussoorie, India
Level 6 Contributor
119 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
“Worth The Trip”
Reviewed January 28, 2014

The journey to Elephanta Island may appear daunting - a boat ride on boats with unscheduled departures and unpredictable vessels - but the risk is well worth the reward. The detail in the sculpture is amazing, and the callous damage many of the pieces experienced under the British is glaringly obvious, and disappointing. Of course the Shiv Trimurti sculpture is the most impressive - and remarkably unblemished - and it alone is worth the trip.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Hindu mythos and deities, a guide is recommended to be able to understand the full scope of the artwork.

Visited January 2014
Thank Maitreyi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hyderabad, India
Level 6 Contributor
156 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 165 helpful votes
“Good Sculptures”
Reviewed January 20, 2014

What makes me wonder often is the amount of detail that goes into the sculptures. No wonder these caves come under the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Now the details.

The ferry service starts at around 9 AM from the Gateway of India. It's an hour ride from Gateway to the Elephanta Island. The fare is Rs. 150 for the round trip.

The ferries are parked behind the Gateway of India. The operators wait till the boat is full (i.e. around 30-40 people) before starting. They charge Rs. 10 extra, if you want to sit on the first floor.

Once the ferry starts, you'll feel the cold wind from the sea and cross other boats, ships on the way. There are some small islands on the route. One of them is used to import/refuel oil. At the end of the pleasant ferry ride, one steps on to the Elephanta Island.

One might take Rs. 10 toy train ride or choose to walk for about 10 min to the starting point. The Panchayat body collects Rs.5 tax. From here, it's about a 15-20 min walk to the top. I wouldn't call it strenuous, but it might be difficult for the elderly people. (The locals charge Rs.800 to manually carry a ) Once you reach top, there are two ways. The left hand side one takes you to the caves and the right hand side one takes you to the canon hill, where there are 2 canons from the old times.

At the entrance to the caves, one needs to buy Rs.10 ASI ticket. There are total 5 caves, of which Cave 1 has 95% of the total sculptures. As I mentioned earlier, observe the level of detail. There's usually lot of crowd in the Cave 1, so one has to wait for sometime to click the photos. The lighting is low in this and other caves. A good camera will be handy.

Since I started in the morning, there was hardly anyone near the caves 2,3,4,5. After visiting these, I did a small hike of 15 mins to the Canon Hill. The view from the top of the hill is good. Since there's not much crowd, one can sit here and relax.

The return boats start from 12 PM or whenever they've enough passengers. The last boat leaves the island by 5:30 PM.

Tip No 1:In order to avoid rush (esp on weekends), it's better to start as early as possible. Also, weekdays might be a good idea to visit the place.
Tip No 2:You might either choose to hire a guide or take printout of the Wikipedia page of Elephanta caves, which has very good details.
Tip No 3: The path to Canon hill is slippery at some places esp. the downhill part.

Visited January 2014
5 Thank TheWallStands
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
87 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Well Worth the Effort”
Reviewed January 17, 2014

This island is about a 1 hour boat ride from Mumbai.

There is an interesting racket going on the boats. Initially you purchase a ticket for the boat. But when you get on the boat there is a guy collecting cash (a modest amount) if you wish to ride on the upper deck (which has better chairs, better view, sunlight etc.) The fee is not much, it is just consistent with the constant nickel and diming which goes on in India.

Upon arrival at Elephanta Island there is a short train ride which takes you from the boat dock to the stairs. The walk is not more than 5 minutes so depending on how hot it is you might want to skip the train.

Then come the stairs, which are probably better described as a gauntlet of vendors. However, the prices are good and there is fair selection is you are looking for that kind of souvenirs.

The Shiva Temples are carved out of the stone mountain and are absolutely incredible. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth seeing. We had a very knowledgeable guide with us and this greatly increased our enjoyment. It truly adds a lot to the experience to and appreciation of the sculptures with a proper explanation.

Do not bring food or drinks. There are aggressive monkeys on the way up.

Visited December 2013
Thank francetraveller2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai (Bombay), India
Level 4 Contributor
16 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Elephanta Island a day tour experience”
Reviewed January 14, 2014

Elephanta Island: Elephanta is the place where the main events in the mythology of Lord Shiva are depicted most powerfully, consistently and exclusively. To spend a day at Elephanta is to spend a day outside of the world, or rather in another World, "the World of Shiva".

Elephanta Island, about 10 km off the eastern coast of Bombay, boasts a series of caves carved out of the rock between the fifth and eighth century A.D. The name (which has not been changed back yet to its ancient name of Gharapuri, Fortress City), was given by the Portuguese because they found a large stone elephant near the shore, which, alas, is now in Bombay's Victoria Gardens.

One gets to the island on a ferry that departs from the Gateway of India. Then there is a nice walk on a long pier or you can take a rail and then up a beautiful stone stairway. Elephanta is more ``touristy'' than the more distant buddhist Kanheri caves, so there are several food and drink vendors at the foothill, and the stairs are lined with handicrafts for sale. One can even hire a palanquin to be carried up the stairs!

Flights of steps, which can prove to be very daunting, take one to the caves. One can also hire a chair to be carried up. Today the caves can be easily approached, but think of the time when the artisan used only the contours of the hill to reach the top and then chiseled out the basalt rocks to give it the shape of heavenly abode of Shiva. He has tried to create the cave similar to the one in which Shiva resides in the Himalayas.

The island rises in two conical hillocks. The architect sculptors carved out of solid basalt rock create a representation of the heavenly mountain residence of Lord Shiva. Opening out from three sides, the temple lets in light from many angles making the sculptures seem to move with the changing angles of light.

The pillars inside the cave give an impression that these pillars support the roof. Again the cross beams on the roof makes the visitor feel there is a ceiling of the caves. The pillars have been deliberately kept simple as to attract the attention towards the exquisite carvings on the panels, which are nine in number. There are three opening to the caves, which allows light to enter from various angles in different seasons giving an expression that the images are moving with transition of light.

The temples in the Elephanta caves and the carvings on the walls show Shiva in different moods and shapes, Lord Shiva practicing Yoga, Lord Shiva meditating with snakes coiled around his neck, at places He is in company of his wife, Parvati. Panel 6 of the caves represents the marriage of Shiva with Parvati with the rites being performed by Brahma and scores of other Gods attending the marriage. Panel 5 of the cave describes the coming of Ganga from heaven to Earth. As the great force of Ganga might have destroyed the Earth She lands in the hair locks of Shiva who then gently releases her.
The sculptures here are badly mutilated, not much is known of the artists who designed and carved these caves representing Shiva in his paradoxical nature in different forms and moods. The architects must have been genius who dared to construct something which was totally different from what was being constructed in those days.

Best time to visit :: Between November and March

How to get there :: Boat: The Elephanta Island is accessible only by boat from the Gateway of India, Mumbai . A chugging ferry ride from the Gateway of India, surpassing the fishing boats, large ships, little islands, occasionally leaping fishes, reminding in its way down the ever changing face time and it takes 45 minutes to reach the Elephanta Island. Then u can board into a small colorful toy train. Believe me it must take experience.

Visited December 2013
3 Thank Mannisha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
147 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Well worthy of a visit”
Reviewed January 13, 2014

Go to the gateway of India ignore the touts offering extortionately priced tours you can do it yourself 150 rps for the ferry ticket and 250 to Enter the caves ,ferry takes an hour , wear sensible shoes your in for a lot of steps and take cover for your head or you'll fry , all in all allow 4 hours for ferry and visit to the island , beware the monkeys who mugged 4 tourists for there fruit drinks etc , there's dozens of them keep away there vicious little monsters and most of all enjoy the caves there marvellous ;)

Visited December 2013
Thank Limeri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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