Elephanta Shaivite Caves


The Elephanta Caves are a great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai meteropolis. The Elephanta island is located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai.Elephanta Caves are situated in Raigad district.Originally known as Gharapuri Caves. Ancient caves situated on a small island between Mumbai & Uran. All the caves belong to Shaivite Hindu sect portraying stories of Shiva & Parvati. The huge sculpture of Trimurti depicting three different facial expressions of Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh is considered unique in the history of sculptures.

The caves contain some of the most exquisite rock-hewn sculptures in the Deccan. The dating of the caves is shrouded in conflict though they were probably finished some time during the reign of the Silhara kings between the 9th and 12th century. However their use may have started earlier, during the Konkan-Mauryan period. The site is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are three entrances to this temple of Shiva-- one from the north, east and west respectively. The main gallery is divided by columns into equal rows and aisles. To the west, and outside this area, is a square sanctuary containing a monolithic Lingam (a phallic icon which represents the concept of Universal Creation). The huge, high-relief works in the main cave, on both sides of the three entrances and on the south wall, are characteristic of the Hindu Shaivite culture and are considered to be among the most perfect expressions of Indian art of their time.

There are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group and these are datable from circa 6th – 7th centuries A.D. Among the cave excavations, the Cave 1 is the most impressive which represents the evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture. The cave is also famous for the exquisite and vibrant sculptures. On plan it almost resembles the Dumar Lena (Cave 29) of Ellora. The cave has a main entrance on the north with two other openings on the east and west respectively and a central hall with six rows of pillared columns, six in each row except on the western corner, where a shrine of lingam is provided.

The cave temple, which is the pride of Elephanta, sprawled over an area of approximately 5000 square metres, is reached by climbing a flight of more than 100 steps, to the top of a hill. Inside the temple, is a large pillared hall with rows of columns, that appear to hold up the roof of the cave. Cross beams complete the illusion of a ceiling. One's attention is immediately drawn to the series of marvellous sculptured panels, nine in all, which are set like tableaux on the walls. Little is known about the architects and sculptors, who worked on this gem of ancient architecture.


Location info:

Address: Elephanta Island,Arabian Sea,near Mumbai, India
District: Raigad
Nearest City: Mumbai
Best time to visit: November to March


Summers 22°- 40°C. Winters 12°-33°C



Interesting things to do:

Marine Drive:
On Marine Drive also lies the Taraporewala Aquarium which houses fresh water as well as saltwater fishes. A fantastic view of Mumbai can be seen from the Hanging Gardens and Kamala Nehru Park, set on the top of Malabar. The famous Mahalaxmi Temple, is the oldest temple in Mumbai, dedicated to the Goddess of Wealth which lies some distance away from Malabar Hills. A little further away is a long causeway which leads to Haji Ali tomb and mosque, accessible during low tide. In Prabhadevi comes the exquisite temple of Siddhivinayak dedicated to Lord Ganesha always bustling with devotees. Juhu Beach, Nehru Planetarium and Nehru Science Centre are other tourist attractions.

Interesting things to Visit:

Gateway of India:
Built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of George V to India, this is a principal landmark of Mumbai, situated at Colaba. This was officially inaugurated in 1924 to welcome the visitors who came to by ship. This distinctive monument was India's principal port. The monument's architecture reflects similarity with the conventional arch of Triumph.

Flora Fountain:
The Flora Fountain erected in 1869 in honour of Sir Bartle Frere (Governor of Mumbai in 1862-67), now bustles with busy life and is the many business centre housing many major banks and offices. Gerald Aungier began the Cathedral of St. Thomas in 1672, which was formally opened in 1718 to the fountain.

Chowpatty Beach:
Mumbai's famous beach is no place for a sun bathe or a dip. In fact, there's not much going on at Chowpatty at all during the day, but in the evening it develops a magical fairground atmosphere as locals come to stroll among the contortionists, masseurs, transvestites, balloon sellers, gamblers, fortune tellers, magicians, drug dealers, nut vendors, ferris wheels and shooting galleries.

Haji Ali Mosque:
Situated at the end of a long causeway poking into the Arabian Sea, is a whitewashed fairytale mosque containing the tomb of the Muslim Saint Haji Ali. The saint is believed to have been a wealthy local businessman who renounced the material world and meditated on a nearby headland following a pilgrimage to Mecca. The mosque and tomb were built by devotees in the early 19th century. Alternative versions say Haji Ali died while on a pilgrimage to Mecca and his casket amazingly floated back to Bombay and landed at this spot.

Chor Bazar:
No visit to Mumbai is complete without a foray into the bazaars of Kalbadevi, north of Crawford Market. The narrow lanes of this predominantly Muslim area are hemmed in by laundry-draped chawls , and a seething mass of people bring Mumbai's traffic to a standstill.

Mobile range info:

How to reach?

Nearest Railway Station:
Nearest Airport:Mumbai International Airport

Transport: Elephanta can be reached by regular ferries that leave from Mumbai's Gateway of India harbour throughout the year, except during the monsoon season.The first boat leaving Elephanta Island for Mumbai is at 12:00 noon and the last one is at 5:30PM. If you are fast, you can take the first boat from Mumbai to Elephanta Island and visit all caves.

Nearest Visiting places:

3.Ellora Caves
4.Ajanta Caves

Nearest Petrol Pump:



Maharastra Tourism Department Hotel,Chateau Windsor Hotel,Grand Hyatt Mumbai.

Things to carry:

Tips & Suggestions:

Help Line/Phone Number:

Police Station:100
Nearest Hospital: Lots of Govt. and Pvt. hospitals are available in the city of Mumbai.
Society/Community Phone Number