These caves are architectural marvel and heritage that every Mumbaites is proud of. The island earlier called as Gharapuri in local language but during the Portuguese rule, It was named as Elephanta after finding a rock cut elephant sculpture which is now placed at Bhau daji lad museum at Byculla.
The island has two hills called Stupa hills with thick forest cover on them. There are three small hamlets or small villages of fisherman folks on three different corners of the island but being strategically located off the coast of Mumbai, Its also a part of restricted area which comes under Indian Navy. The island is quiet and picturesque with monkeys scammering around. The forest cover is also home to migratory birds and breeding ground for eagles.
The one hour ride from Gateway of India is quite an experience as we can see the Mumbai shoreline and also huge merchant ships and tankers anchored off the coast of Mumbai in the middle of Arabian sea.
From September to March, different parts of Mumbai becomes home to migratory birds. Elephanta island is one such area which is home to migratory birds due to protected forest cover on the island.
The island is nesting ground for eagles which are common on the island. While Seagulls are common site when travelling in ferry to Elephanta island. Amazing to see these birds following the ferry boats and also fishing in the Arabian sea.
|Seagulls at Mumbai Harbour|
|Nesting ground for Eagles|
The main cave also has Shiva Lingam in a cave with all four sides having a door on all four corners. But this is not a temple of worship as temple needs to have a "DHAJA" or a orange flag at the top of the temple complex.
The cave also has carvings depicting Shiva slaying the demon Andhaka and Shiva's marriage to Parvati.
The caves 3, 4, 5 are smaller caves as compared to main caves 1 & 2. Also as per the tour guides and experts on Elephanta caves mentions that these smaller caves were abandoned due to the not so solid nature of the rock and also because the rain water gets accumulated in these caves during the monsoon season and caves are submerged under water for almost 3-4 months of monsoon season.
The jetty as seen from the top of Stupa hill.
The toy train which ferries passengers from the jetty to the main entrance of the cave is a joy ride worth taking and cost Rs 10/- for a return journey.
PICS FROM MY CLICKS ON THE RETURN JOURNEY FROM THE ISLAND.