I had been travelling to Mumbai, India on various occasions and always missed visiting Elephanta Caves for reasons unknown. Mumbai, a city of Bollywood dreams makes imaginations come alive and it is also ignites true for a backpackers and travel enthusiasts. Having enormous explored and unexplored places to visit, Mumbai boasts of Elephanta Caves located on a distant island in the Arabian Sea. It is declared as a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1987.
Dating back to the 7th century and situated at a distant depth of 9 nautical miles, the Elephanta caves can be reached through a one hour long ferry ride from the Gateway of India. The ferry tickets are available at the ticket counters and even the agents can be trusted and bought tickets from as they give fair choices of the size of the boat you want to take the ferry ride on.
On the way to the caves during an enthralling ride through the Arabian Sea, the ferry gives view to gigantic Naval Ships anchored to the base. The island has a to-and-fro toy train ride option to reach the feet of the caves from the harbor. On the way, as you walk to the interiors there are stalls selling beautiful artifacts, paintings, jewellery, Indian traditional souvenirs and much more. For the Indian food freaks, the tuck shops sell raw mangoes, star fruits, berries and tamarind sprinkled with chillies and salt.
Historically, Shaivism which is the worship of Shiva, inspired the building of the temples at Elephanta Caves during the Portuguese era. The island is divided into blocks having caves of different sizes with preserved rock temples each depicting the various forms of Shiva. The rock cut Maheshamurti carving shows Lord Shiva as a creator, protector and destroyer. It is a sight that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.
The caves are secluded and offer the most serene experience away from the loud noises and struggle in cities which boast of concrete buildings entangled with corporate enslavement. Night hault isn’t allowed in the caves and the last return ferry is available till 5 pm in the evening which gives ample time to explore the minutest historical aspect and experience the sunset on the ferry ride back to the Gateway of India.
A visit to the Elephanta caves is a life giving experience to back packers, photographers, writers and shopaholics. The monkeys in the caves are too affectionate and scampering for the visitors. Kindly, do not keep your valuables outside to the view of the naughty instincts of the monkeys.
Historically, Elephanta cave’s priceless statues were damaged and destroyed by the Portuguese who used the Hindu gods for target practice. The modern visitors have also been reported of vandalism and damage, and on serious concern backpackers should avoid such instances and expression. To add to the charm, a spectacular dance festival is held at Elephanta Island every February, hosted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
The shopaholics can buy the most grand artefacts, ethnic wrap-arounds, kaftans, jewellery and bags. Be sure to bargain to the lowest prices possible to avoid being duped. The food available at the MTDC lunch house situated in the entrance of the caves is the most appropriate investment for the stomach viz the money and taste. There is much to the place for history lovers.
My memories with Elephanta caves go stronger with the metal earrings that I wear with grace, bargained for 3 in 100 INR. Shaivism has more to it than intoxicated dance moves and weed as sufficed by the Elephanta on my memorable indulgence.
Travelling since birth and based in Ahmedabad for now, I am a psyched blunt human striving on sarcasm, an art-freak, strangely a nerd, foodoholic, ekdum fauji brat, enamoured in the abyss, a travel addict, a part-time expressionist through words and photos..I tie no weights to my ankle..Emaho*..