May 20, 2012

India : Mumbai - Elephanta Island

Continuation from here ...

As I mentioned in my previous post, you can take boat to Elephanta Island from the jetty at the Gateway of India.

What's interesting on that island, you wonder? Only an hour ride from Colaba, the island is famous for its impressive eighth-century cave temple. And it is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in India!

There are several booths selling tickets for the boat ride to the island. I didn't know which boat was nicer and whatnot, so I just queued up at the booth with most people. If there's a lot of people there means it's the best la.. haha

The boats dock right behind the Gateway of India. Once the boat is full, it immediately leaves the dock. On average, one boat leaves the dock every 15-30 minutes so you don't have to worry if you see a boat leaves just as you arrive at the jetty.

inside the boat

Once you arrive at the island's jetty, there is a mini train which will bring you to the island's entrance gate. The ride cost Rs10 for a return trip. But it's not that far la actually so walk your ass off please!

the jetty

the mini train

So upon arrival, everybody must pay a tourist tax which cost Rs5 here. But note that this is not the entrance fee to the cave. That one you have to pay later.

From here, it was only a short walk to the stairs leading to the hill. Yes.. to get to the cave complex, you must climb 120 steps stone stairway. -_-

Fret not, if you don't have the stamina to climb you can opt to ride this dolly chair for Rs400 one way or Rs500 for a return ride.

You simply sit on the chair, and 4 men will carry you up the stairs. #likeaboss yo!

The side of the stairways are lined up with eateries and booths selling all sorts of souvenirs.

Then to enter the cave complex, get the ticket for Rs250. Inside, there are 5 caves altogether but cave number 1 is the largest and most impressive. It contains many statues and carvings, mostly depicting the god Shiva in different settings and forms. This is the main attraction of the island, and this is where most visitors are.

Shiva as Nataraja (Cosmic dancer)

Shiva as Yogisvara, doing penance


Gangadhara Shiva

Ravana shaking Mount Kailash

Shiva Linga shrine and Dvarapalas at door entry

Carved at the back of the cave facing the entrance is the famous Trimurti Sadashiva.

Considered as the most important sculpture in the cave, the massive 20 feet carving depicts a three-headed Shiva. The three heads are said to represent three essentials aspects of Shiva, which are Creator (facing right), Protector (the crowned face at the center), and Destroyer (facing left, with serpents for hair). 

If you walk further, you will find the other four caves.

They are smaller and contain simple carvings.

cave #2

cave #3

cave #4

cave #5

The carvings and engravings depict many stories and are truly amazing. Some of them are damaged but you still can see how spectacular they were. Definitely worth spending the hours there.

Elephanta Cave is open daily, except Monday.
Visiting hours are from 9.30am to 5pm.
Entrance fee is Rs250 for foreigners and Rs10 for Indians.

If you have the stamina, follow the dirt path that leads from the end of the paved trail to the summit of Cannon Hill. I didn't see people going up there so I wasn't sure whether or not I should go up cos you know, walking alone in the jungle is never a good idea. While I was contemplating, I saw a family behind me. Okay now I've got company so off we went.

The hike took me around 15 minutes. At the top, you'll be rewarded by an encounter with a couple of rusting Portuguese cannons and views over Mumbai harbour.

Elephanta Island can be visited daily
Tourist tax is Rs5 per person
Boat from Gateway of India : 9am ~ 2.30pm
Boat from Elephanta Jetty : 12pm ~ 5.30pm 

If you have seen everything, it is very easy to get a boat back to the city. Simply show your return ticket, and the dock master will show you to the next available boat.


Rayyan Haries said...

this is impressive architecture! looks like something in the petra

rara said...

rayyan: yup impressive indeed! i heard so many interesting stories about petra, must visit it someday! :)