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Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

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A small island named Gharapuri, 10 kilometres off the shores of Mumbai, houses attractive cave temples that were built between the 5th and 8th centuries by the kings of the Kalachuri dynasty. Of the seven caves here, five are temples, and two are basadis (Jain temples). These cave temples showcase the evolution of cave temple building art in India. Impeccably carved out of a large rock hill, they depict the images of Shiva in many forms. The 7 feet tall image of Sadashiva in cave number one is the main attraction. The staggering 17 feet tall sculpture has five faces and is hence also known as Panchamukhi Shiva. The Portuguese took control of the island in the 16th century and named it “Elephanta” based on the presence of a large statue of an elephant that was located here. During Portuguese rule, temples fell into neglect, with the stopping of daily worship. The British started the renovation activities, and by the 1970s, the caves had been restored to their earlier glory. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that inspires awe in visitors about the rich art and the cultural renaissance that were taking shape in ancient India.

Nearby Places to See


Kanheri Caves
These 109 caves, which are part of the Sanjay Gandhi national park on the outskirts of Mumbai’s Borivali suburb, are located 55 kilometres from Elephanta and are carved out of a sizable black rocky hill surrounded by dense vegetation. The technique and aesthetic of cave carvings created between the first and eleventh centuries show the development and subsequent decline of Buddhism in India.

Jogeshwari Caves
These caves, which are 22 kilometres away from Elephanta and were constructed around the same time as the caves at Elephanta, are in the Mumbai suburb of Jogeshwari. Visitors enter a large hall in front of the temple after descending some stairs. There are many sculptures here, but the Dwarapalakas (doorkeepers) sculptures are the most striking.

Mandapeshwar Cave
This cave temple, which is 35 kilometres from Elephanta in the Mumbai suburb of Borivali, dates back to the sixth century. In the Garbhagriha, a stunning Shivling is worshipped alongside a large mantapa and rows of ornamented pillars. On top of the cave temple, there are the remains of a chapel constructed by the Portuguese.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park
It is a lovely location that offers peace away from the busy city, about 50 kilometres from Elephanta in the Borivali suburb. It was founded in 1969 and spans an area of 87 square kilometres. It is a favourite destination for the family crowd due to the safari ride, toy train, and short treks.
Siddhivinayak Temple
It is Mumbai’s most well-known temple, and it is situated in the Dadar suburb about 24 kilometres from Elephanta. Rarely do you see an idol of Bhagawan Ganesh with his trunk facing to the right, as you will see in this temple.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum
More than 50,000 artefacts related to India’s rich history are housed in this museum, which is located in Mumbai’s fort area, about 11 kilometres from Elephanta.


Things to Buy

Things to buy include Bags, Shells, Souvenirs – postcards, keychains & lamps, Jewellery, Paintings.

Foods to Relish

Maharashtrian Thali, Fish Thali, Vada Pav.