Elephanta Caves are located near Mumbai, India on Elephanta Island in the middle of Mumbai Harbour. The island is 10 Km (6.2 miles) from the Gateway of India and can only be reached by taking a one hour long ferry ride.

There are a total of seven caves that make up the Elephanta Caves and all seven of these caves were created by carving into the solid rock hillside. It is thought that the caves were created between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD.

The cave entrances do not all look the same. Some of the cave entrances are very formal looking while others are more primitive. Photos of 5 cave entrances are shown below.

The inside of the caves have been carved with support pillars remaining from the original stone. Some of these pillars are shown below. The depth of the main cave or the Great Cave is 39 meters from front to back.

The inside of the caves are filled with Hindu religious stone carvings. Some of the carvings are of larger than live statues. The majority of the carvings have been partially destroyed over the years but they are still interesting to view.

The centerpiece of the Great Cave is the relief carving of Maheshmurti Shiva. The three headed carving is 20 feet high and are of Aghora, Tatpurusha and Vandeva which represents the creator, the preserver and the destroyer.

There are many relief carvings along the walls that represent aspects of the Hindu religion. Some of these carvings are shown in the photos below.

Inside the caves there are separate rooms that have been created. Two of these rooms are seen in the next two photos.

The only way to reach Elephanta Island and see the Elephanta Caves is by passenger boat. The photo below is of two passenger boats at the departure point near the Gateway of India.

The boat trip takes about one hour to reach Elephanta Island. There are lots of other boats in Mumbai Harbour. The photo below is one of the boats that I photographed on my trip to Elephanta Island.

The landing point on Elephanta Island is at the end of a long pier. A photo of the pier and a passenger boat arriving are in the next two photos.

When we arrived I wondered why the docking point was on the end of the pier but when we departed it became obvious. The water closer in is shallow and the tide swing between high and low tide can be severe. This is seen then the two photos below taken only a few hours apart.

The walk from the pier to the caves is through a forested area that is inhabited by Bonnet Macaques. These monkeys are not hard to find as they are both in the trees and on the ground. At the bottom of this post there is a link to one of my previous posts specifically on the Bonnet Macaques photographed here on Elephanta Island.

The Dust on My Shoes

I really enjoy seeing places that were created centuries ago by cultures that are vastly different from modern day cultures. It was amazing for me to see huge manmade caves that were carved into solid rock of the hillside.

Almost all of the carvings had some amount of damage. Part of me felt sad to see the destruction that this historic place had suffered. While I never want to see something destroyed, I was also glad that the site had not been reconstructed. Part of seeing an ancient site is seeing the effects of time. Seeing places that have suffered from aging doesn’t take away from my experience but it actually makes my experience seem a little more realistic.

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4 thoughts on “Elephanta Caves – India”

    1. Thanks Kevin, this is a very unique place to visit! I really have not seen any other place like the Elephanta Caves.

  1. Doug
    Thank you! I only passed thru Mumbai on an overnight 30 years ago when a connecting flight was cancelled. I still remember the impression the city left with me. Few cars, no tall buildings. No air conditioning in the hotel. Mosquito netting and lots of noisy horns from the traffic. But a beautiful breeze off of the water. In the background of your photo it looks like that has all changed-lots of tall buildings.

    1. Marlene, yes there are lots of tall buildings now but there is still lots of traffic. I think Mumbai has the craziest traffic that I have seen in my travels.

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