Elephanta is an island off the Mumbai (Bombay) coast. So the first point is to get to Mumbai. This is one of the most connected cities in India. A large number of daily flights are operated to Mumbai (BOM) from the rest of the main cities in India. So are the international connections to Mumbai.

Once in Mumbai head for the Gateway of India. This is an immensely prime landmark of Mumbai. It is from this point the ferries to Elephanta Island operate.Though heavily crowded during the peak hours, Mumbai has an excellent suburban local rail network.

From wherever you are in Mumbai, catch a local train to Churchgate or CST station. Both are terminal stations, so it is a bit easy to get out and get in. By the way CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) railway station itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Churchgate or CST, one can walk to Gateway of India along the heritage lane. It’s a 20 to 30 minute walk. Or a 10 minute taxi ride.

Alternatively you can depend on the city bus or taxi to Gateway of India. Auto-rickshaws are not permitted to this side of the city.Once in Gateway of India, you are just a 60 minute away from Elephanta by the ferry.

As you approach this locality you can easily notice the imposing Gateway of India structure facing the sea.

Walk towards it and on your left is the where you can board the ferry to Elephanta. In all probability by this time selling the ferry tickets for Elephanta would have approached you shouting ELEPHANTAAA!! at the top of their lungs.

Officially it is sold at the counter nearby. Rs 120 (USD 3) for a return ticket. They collect Rs10 inside the boat to sit on the upper deck. It’s worth this ‘premium’ as you can get a good panoramic view, the crowd and noise is relatively less.

Buy the ticket and ask for the direction to board the boat. If a boat is not already boarding, you may need to wait till the next boat arrives. Typically every 30 minutes a boat leaves for Elephanta. Make sure that you are boarding the Elephanta boat rather than the local sightseeing boat.

On a clear day you can see the Elephanta Island in the horizon as a thin strip from Gateway of India, most likely the haze makes it impossible to see the island which is about 11 km (7 miles) from the shore. In any case halfway down your journey you can spot a small island on your left known as Butcher’s Island. This is a mooring jetty for the oil tankers. Strait ahead in the direction of the boat Elephanta emerges as forest covered island.In Elephanta, the boat will leave you at the jetty that is at the north of the island. The cave temple is a kilometers’ walk (under a mile) from the jetty.

There is a small toy train from the jetty to the base of the hill (Rs 5 one way). You may chose to walk along the pier. This will lead to the entrance to the Gharapuri village. There is a security gate and a village entry fee (Rs5) to be paid .

Further you need to trek the 120 steps to the plateau where the caves are located. This trek path goes through a packed curios, souvenir, guidebooks and T-shirt selling stalls.  The ticket counter for the caves is located at the end of this path.

There is also a palanquin service (dolly) at the island for whom can not scale the steps to the caves site.

A queue at the Archeological Survey of India Ticket counter is the last point to cross before you enter the courtyard of the main cave in Elephanta.

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Elephants Island Location Map

Elephanta Island is located near Mumbai in India

Elephanta Island is located near Mumbai in India

Everything about Elephanta!

Nataraja at Elephanta Caves

Nataraja at Elephanta

Nataraja Panel is located at the entry point of the main cave, opposite to the Mahayogi Shiva at Elephanta.After the three panels (Gangadhara at Elephanta , Mahesh Murthy at Elephanta and Ardhanarishvara at Elephanta ) which are located in the deep wall of the cave, this is the most dynamic of all t...

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elephanta-island-during-low-tide

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island, locally called Gharapuri island is off the Mumbai coast.The cave temples of Elephanta is located on the hillocks of Elephanta Island.
 

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Entrance to the cave 3 in Elephanta

Elephanta Caves

The name, Elephanta was given by the Portuguese as there was a large elephant sculpture in the island, when it was held by them as a naval outpost.Otherwise this island was known as Gharapuri.

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Facade of Elephanta Cave 2

Elephanta Cave 2

This is an unfinished cave, located near Cave 1, that is the main attraction in Elephanta.Follow the paved trail from the courtyard of the main cave (Cave 1), you can spot cave 2 on your right, slightly up on the hillside.

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Shiva-Parvati of Elephanta

Shiva-Parvathi at Elephanta

In this panel Parvathi, the consort of Lord Shiva is portrayed in a affectionate but somewhat upset mood.Her head is turned away from Shiva.The theme revolves around a game of dice the couple played.

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Entrance to the cave 3 in Elephanta

Elephanta Cave 3

This a large cave complex, probably second only to the main Cave.The facade is impressive with a row of large cussion capital pillars.

The unfinished cave 5 in elephanta island

Elephanta Cave 5

Though it's an unfinished cave, a visit can give you good idea of the how the work in progress sites looked like during the excavation of caves.

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