Elephanta Temple – Maharashtra:
Elephanta Temple, also known as Gharapuri Caves, is an ancient Hindu rock-cut temple complex located on Elephanta Island, off the coast of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this remarkable archaeological site showcases exquisite rock-cut architecture and sculptures that date back to the 5th and 8th centuries CE.
The island itself got its name during the Portuguese colonial era when they discovered a large stone statue of an elephant near the entrance of the caves. However, the original name of the island and the caves remains unknown. Locally, it is referred to as Gharapuri, meaning “City of Caves.”
Elephanta Cave Temple Architecture:
The Elephanta Caves consist of a network of five caves carved into solid basalt rock. The most significant and elaborately adorned of these caves is Cave 1, also known as the Great Cave. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and serves as the main attraction for visitors. The other caves on the site, numbered from 1 to 5, are relatively smaller and less ornate.
The centerpiece of Cave 1 is the colossal three-headed sculpture of Lord Shiva, known as Maheshamurti, representing his three aspects: the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer. The intricately carved panels on the walls depict various mythological narratives and episodes from Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The splendid craftsmanship and attention to detail in these sculptures are truly awe-inspiring.
The Elephanta Cave Temple is a testament to the architectural brilliance and artistic prowess of ancient Indian craftsmen. The caves exhibit a fusion of indigenous rock-cutting techniques and artistic styles influenced by Buddhism, Jainism, and Shaivism. The intricate carvings, well-preserved sculptures, and the overall layout of the caves reflect the rich cultural and religious heritage of ancient India.
The site’s historical significance and architectural magnificence attract tourists, art enthusiasts, and spiritual seekers from around the world. Although the caves have faced natural weathering, deliberate damage, and neglect over the centuries, efforts have been made to restore and preserve this cultural treasure.
To reach Elephanta Island, visitors can take a ferry ride from the Gateway of India in Mumbai. The journey offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea, and upon arrival, visitors are greeted by lush greenery and a peaceful ambiance.
Exploring the Elephanta Cave Temple is an immersive experience that transports visitors back in time to the ancient era. It serves as a poignant reminder of the rich historical and cultural tapestry of Maharashtra and India as a whole, leaving an indelible impression on all those who have the opportunity to witness its grandeur.
Elephanta Temple History:
The exact origins and the builder of the temple remain uncertain, as there are no inscriptions found on the site. However, historians believe that it was built by either the Kalachuri dynasty or the Chalukya dynasty, who ruled the region during that time. The temple’s location on an island suggests its significance as a place of worship and solitude.
The Elephanta Temple complex consists of a main shrine and a few smaller shrines dedicated to various deities. The main temple is a massive rock-cut cave structure with intricate carvings and sculptures. The most prominent feature of the temple is the three-headed statue of Lord Shiva, known as Maheshamurti, which stands at the entrance of the main cave. The statue represents Lord Shiva as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe.
Elephanta Caves ferry booking online:
From Mumbai, there are two ferry stops for Elephanta. The ferry service from the Gateway of India is well-liked and frequent. In Navi Mumbai, at Belapur Jetty, is the second ferry terminal.
Apollo Bandar, which is close to the Gateway of India by foot, provides the popular boat service to Elephanta.
Both luxury type and economy type boats (launch) are available from Mumbai city (India’s gateway) to Elephanta island.
Cost of a Luxury Class ticket was Rs260. Both types of tickets are good for both the outbound and incoming trips.
Online booking of ferry ticket to Elephanta :
From Belapur Jetty, you can reserve ferry tickets in advance online. The ferry, however, runs on a first come, first served basis from the Gateway of India to Elephanta.
Ferry timings from Elephanta :
The first return boat departs Elephanta for the Gateway of India about midday, according to the usual ferry schedules. 5.30 p.m. is the final one. Every 30 minutes or so, a return boat arrives.
Elephanta Caves Entry Fees:
- 40 per person for Indian, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives,Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand citizens
- 600 per person for other foreign citizens
Elephanta Cave Temple Timings:
Tuesday to sunday – 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, Monday will be closed
At 9 AM and 2 PM, the first and last ferries depart from the Gateway of India jetty, respectively. At 5.30 PM, the final ferry from Elephanta Island to the mainland departs. Return tickets can be purchased directly from Gateway of India. Depending on the boats you board, the Elephanta Caves ferry might cost anywhere between 100 and 200 rupees. Additionally, a boat departs the jetty every 30 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Elephanta Caves Temple:
The months of October through March are the ideal times to visit the temple.
Elephanta Temple Address:
Gharapuri, Maharashtra, 400094, India
Places to visit near Elephanta Temple:
Gateway of India
The Asiatic Library
Haji Ali Dargah
How to reach Elephanta Cave Temple:
By Road: From nearby towns and the nation’s largest cities, both public and private transportation are available. The distance between Mumbai Central bus stop and Gateway of India jetty is only 6 kilometres. To go to Mumbai, you can also reserve a taxi.
By Air: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport links Mumbai to significant cities all over the world.About 25 kilometres separate the airport from the Elephanta Caves.
By Train: The majority of trains stop at Mumbai Central (6 km) and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (3 km) respectively. Additionally, suburban Bandra Terminus and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus are stops for some trains to Mumbai.
Elephanta Cave Temple Photos: