The Elephanta Caves are considered to be a contribution by the Kalachuris and the latest rules to contribute were the Rashtrakutas on the Elephanta caves.

The Elephanta caves are located about 10 kilometres away from Mumbai.

Colonial Portuguese elephant statues on the island so they named it to Elephante which morphed to ‘Elephanta’. The main Elephanta cave was a Hindu Worship place until the Portuguese arrived. 

The Elephanta caves island is a protected monument area as per the requirements of UNESCO, The Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Mumbai’s oldest historic sites. 

A notification was issued by the Government of India in 1985 declaring a buffer zone that includes “a prohibited area” that stretches 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from the shoreline.

The Elephanta Caves emerged from a long artistic tradition, but demonstrate refreshing innovation. The combination of aesthetic beauty and sculptural art, replete with respondent Rasas, reached an apogee at the 

Elephanta Caves. Hindu spiritualistic beliefs and symbology are finely utilized in the overall planning of the Elephanta caves.

Elephanta Caves holds its swoon-worthy significance because:

1. The Shaivite Group Of Caves

While there are many examples of Buddhist Caves in India, Elephanta Caves stands as a unique and important example as it is influenced by Shaiva traditions and mythology in the Shiva Purana.

2.Iconography In The Elephanta Caves

The various panels and the iconographic representations in these Caves highlight its artistic beauty.

The panels are Kalyanasundaramurti (depicting the marriage of Shiva and Parvati), Ardhanareshwara (the iconography which represents half Shiva and half Shakti which is symbolic of gender equality), Andhakasura Vadha Murti (killing Andhakasura), Nataraja (representing Shiva as the cosmic dancer), the Shiva Linga (the Linga symbolizes the union of a male and female)with the dwarapalas (doorkeepers)at the centre of the complex.

3.The Architecture of Elephanta Caves

The layout of the site and the geometrical study helps us understand that the entire plan is in-line with focal points considered as important energy centres. Thus, it serves as an important example in the study of Elephanta Cave Architecture.

How to reach Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Starting Point: Entrance Gate of Gateway of India, Mumbai

Ending Point: Gateway of India, Mumbai


  • Morning Slot 9 AM to 1 PM
  • Afternoon Slot 1 PM to 6 PM

Transportation: Boat

Activities: Elephanta Island tour

Elephanta cave is an island off the Mumbai (Bombay) coast. So the first point is to get to Mumbai for Elephanta caves. This is one of the most connected cities in India.  This is an immensely prime landmark of Mumbai Elephanta caves.

Alternatively, you can depend on the city bus or taxi to the Gateway of India Elephanta caves. 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 caves by the ferry. When you reached there you can board the ferry to Elephanta caves. 

Officially it is sold at the counter nearby. Rs 120 (USD 3) for a return ticket. Buy the ticket and ask for the direction to board the boat.  Typically every 30 minutes a boat leaves for Elephanta caves.

On a clear day, you can see the Elephanta caves Island on 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 for Elephanta caves, you can spot a small island on your left known as Butcher’s Island. This is a mooring jetty for the oil tankers. Straight ahead in the direction of the boat, Elephanta caves emerge as a forest-covered island.

In Elephanta caves, the boat will leave you at the jetty that is at the north of the island. The Elephanta cave temple is a kilometres’ walk (under a mile) from the jetty.

Further, you need to trek the 120 steps to the plateau where the Elephanta caves are located. This trekking path for Elephanta caves goes through packed curios, souvenirs, guidebooks. There is also a palanquin service (dolly) at the island for those who can not scale the steps to the site of the Elephanta caves.

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. Elephanta caves need to be reached by a ferry from near India Gateway in Elephanta caves. 

Best Time To Visit Elephanta Caves 

It is recommended to visit Elephanta Caves in winter months from November to February. Also, if you visit in early February, you can get the chance to experience the magnificent Elephanta Festival.

Avoid peak monsoon season (June to August ) as the sea becomes unpredictable and ferry schedules get disrupted. Morning hours are better to visit these Elephanta caves.

Fascinating Things Not To Miss On Your Trip To Elephanta caves  

This activity is for those who are bored and want to do something fascinating. Fare warning the Elephanta caves can make you feel a little claustrophobic so make sure you pack enough water and take deep breaths. There is a good option for eating out on Elephanta island. The Elephanta caves are perfect to go with a large group.elephanta caves

  • From the Gateway of India, you will ride a ferry to the Elephanta island and enjoy this one hour ride which offers you picturesque seaside views.
  • Explore seven major excavations of the Elephanta caves in the area showcasing huge sculptures of Shiva, Hindu mythologies, and Buddhist caves.
  • Explore the 3 caves – the large Hindu cave, Buddhist cave, and the main Shiva cave in Elephanta caves and Ajanta, Ellora caves. 
  • Take a toy train ride and at the plateau admire the complex and astoundingly detailed reliefs and carvings depicting narratives of the goddess Shiva.
  • You will also enjoy the local’s favourite snacks (complimentary) during the tour of Elephanta caves. 
  • This Elephanta caves tour takes you on a ride like never before, as the guide for the day will also be a great storyteller and will meet you at the starting point of the tour. The guide will accompany you on the ferry of Elephanta caves, relaying interesting stories about the tour and the location to you. 
  •  Bask in the ancient architectural wonders of the island under a knowledgeable guide, there is also a small museum on-site, which has some informative pictorial panels about the origin of the caves.

Other Popular Places To Visit In Mumbai:

  1. Marine Drive, Mumbai
  2. Gateway of India
  3. Colaba Causeway
  4. Juhu Beach
  5. Haji Ali Dargah
  6. Siddhivinayak Temple
  7. Girgaum Chowpatty
  8. Bandra Worli Sea Link
  9. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
  10. Prince of Wales Museum
Also Read: UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India (Updated 2020)

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By Abhishek Saraswat

Abhishek (@himalayan_gypsy) is a travel photographer and blogger known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet. Academically from an engineering background and born the Himalayan valley of Dehradun, he found himself in love with nature and ever since he has been on a journey to travel India and showcase the beauty of the country through his pictures, motivating and encouraging people on the go to feel the same and also take responsibilities to conserve our rich heritage, culture and environment. He is a Certified Digital Marketer and a Travel Influencer who is efficient to create visually appealing content for Travel Brands, Property Owners, Cafes and other Product Shoots. He also specializes in running Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns for Brand Awareness, Brand Promotion and Online Reputation Management.

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