“Gharapuri village is a historic location and an island having Heritage listed Elephanta Caves Island, a famous and one of the oldest tourist attractions of Mumbai. Total of 5 to 7 capacious caves to be seen focusing on worship of Hindu god lord Shiva and 2 on Buddhists, all being beautiful rocky stone carving on huge pillars, Huge idols and sculptures of Shiva, Trimurti and various female forms inside (See Video) done by some unknown visionary artists are the main attractions inside. Well maintained by heritage committee, touring elephanta is an amazing experience major liked by historians. It takes about 4 to 6 hours in total including 2 hours to and from ferry ride journey starting at ‘Gateway Of India’, an another yet another famous historic attraction of Mumbai. On the way to island, Experiencing seagulls, serenity and the fun of riding mini toy train once you are at island jetty at Gharapuri. Below is complete information about Elephanta caves, ferry timings and charges, entry fees, facilities, accommodation, safety, speciality factors and other details like how to reach, Do’s and Don’t, perfect season to tour around and more..”
As said a tour to elephanta means exploring and understanding the history of 3rd, 5th and 7th centuries lost time today and so it is historians favourite as an Historic attraction for subject lovers of Hindu mythology and believers of lord Shiva and Buddhism. Cave number 1 is the main cave out of 6 others showing the past of Mahabharata which until now we read in books or either saw on television and films. Those strong personalities of that time had vision to have such monuments which they actually lived and spent time in. Salute to those visionaries and hands who carved and sculptured this huge pillars and idols of Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Shiva lingas and other female forms in every mood. Huge Trimurti idol and Maheshamurti panel are few of the main attractions of this caves. To explore all the hilly caves you must have 3 to 4 hours in hand after the total of 2 hours ferry journey on both side.
‘Tour De Elephanta’ is a regular excursion at south Mumbai for which the ferry starts at Gateway of India at not fixed hours interval, but depending on the boat fills. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour one way to reach Gharapuri island jetty and trust me you will love the ride and the feel of getting apart of city isolated in deep sea with those seagulls around you can feed adding on the bonus on the fun ride taking some beautiful pictures and videos for your memories collections and personal blogs if any. The sea water is not that clear but worth a 2 hour to and from ride. Jump off the jetty and the hot sun follows you for next 1000 meters, But no worry you have another little carrier waiting for you here, A mini toy train which you can board for just Rs.10 to save that 1 Kilometre walk from jetty to reach the odd 150 around stairs to climb the hills of caves which will takes about 30 minutes more. There are no alternatives but to climb those ladders, so keep note for elderly and unwell. Ticket charges, rates and entry fees, and other related to ferry, toy train, fees at island and caves etc are detailed in below section. For now just keep a note that perfect or ideal time to explore this attraction is winter season (i.e Between November and February ) as its too hot the rocky caves in summer times (March, April, may and October). Monsoon visits are not that bad if you love so. You will surely love the scenic and extra birdies at this island and trees of hills around the caves. A humble request to follow the rules at few inside locations where it is requested to take out shoes before entering being worship temple place with shrines around.Facilities at Elephanta Island Caves
No worries, it is not that isolated kind of island where you as the only group of people seen. Elephanta caves has every basic facilities that is ideally required by any tourist Indian citizens or a foreigner, or any other country people coming for first time in Mumbai for such attractions. Neat and well maintained with proper hygiene toilets and wash room facilities are available. Many small local restaurants which are ideal for snacks and tea/coffee/cold drinks breaks are available, Chalukya Restaurant is one such operated by Maharastra Tourism (MTDC). Restricted fresh water lakes can be seen around with a under construction garden to enhance the beauty around these island caves. No overnight stay facilities or accommodation options are available on this island. Not very sure but as said by few, Stay facility and service like small single and double rooms with toilets and wash room facilities are available on day time rentals, exit time will be 5:00 pm. There are lots of shops to purchase food, water and other articles like souvenirs and historic looking stuff to keep your memories of elephanta. You can bargain and they are not too costly too, Obviously expensive compare to city but that’s natural as they are selling it on island which cost them little more too. The only discomfort you might feel is that 10 to 15 minutes walk as both the sides there are hawkers and shops which leaves very little space to walk when in groups. Manual lifting facilities for senior citizens, elderly people and for those who has physical challenged and differently able are the options of manual carriers available to skip the stairs and reach the caves. This ‘palanquins’ like carrying chairs are basically wooden made attached to two think long bamboos which works as lifting handles for which approximate about Rs.500 may be charges one way by these carriers. Ideally recommended, these trek and rocky caves are not elderly friendly and best if ignored and not brought together as may be tiresome and challenging. Not to worry about girls and women safety and security as guards are always available in and around caves location. If you love pets and animals then you may be accompanied by Goats, Cows, Dogs and Donkeys who are seen hanging around hunting for their food. They are harmless and just in search of food, help them or just leave them alone. I think that will be enough to be helpful to get around this historic island of Mumbai.Some Do’s and Dont’s
Below are some DO’s and DON’t list to help you further to adore and take those lovely moments of attractions at elephanta caves without any hurdles.DO’s at Elephanta Caves
- Start with some fresh photography session at Gateway of India. Photographers at work charges you Rs.30 per copy.
- Carry a fresh drinking water bottle with you as will badly need while exploring the rocky caves which are generally hot in any season. Pack water bottles are available for sale at local shops here.
- Get your best with Photography inside caves and outside at island area too, as Photos and Videos are openly allowed free of cost.
- Start early, possibly the first ferry ride which starts at 9:00 to 9:30 am, You will need total of 4 to 6 hours to explore all caves.
- Do charge you cellphones well before entering.
- A sport shoes is ideal compared to slippers or floaters.
- Carry a hat, it will surely help the journey.
- Start with and spend major time at cave no. 1 which is the main attraction of elephanta. Otherwise also other sightseeing is really nice.
- Do plan a one day picnic with family and friends here, you will love those special moments.
- If you are a history fascinated person, Do go for a paid guide or purchase a books available at local shops inside island.
- Don’t lean out of ferry boat to touch sea water.
- Monkey Menace, YES beware of not carrying any eatables exposed in hands as it will soon be their property. Monkeys are harmless but very brave hearten and you can’t ignore or fight with them as they are in group and can do anything to snatch that food or any similar looking stuff from your hand. Few visitors says that they will take away your mobile phones too as they are trained to do so, But personally i don’t feel so.
- Avoid monsoon visits and be careful as the stones may be slippery.
- For few fascinated to foreign tourists, Don’t make foreigner and European visitors uncomfortable by staring at them or asking for photographs if they are not so comfortable.
- Avoid taking elderly or physically challenged people with you at this journey.
- Finally, Its an heritage listed attraction. Keep it clean, Do not litter.
First ferry boat starts at around 9:00 Am from Gateway of India, During week days (Non Saturday, Sunday, Public Holidays) it may get delayed to 9:30 waiting till its filling capacity of 65 people. Ride takes about 50 minutes to an hour and same in return. That said, this tour will take a ride of total 2 hours to and from gateway and elephanta island at Gharapuri village. Their is no fix timings of this boat. Early morning is the best time to start your ride as after 11:00 Am it is very hot and one will neither enjoy this boat ride and feel very hot upon reaching island compared to mornings. Elephanta Caves are closed on very first day of every week i.e Monday, But catamarans are available taking ferries island as villagers and locals stays and for joy rides. See more ferry timings.Ticket Fees and Entry Charges For Caves
- Ferry Ride Ticket Cost Per Person : Rs.80 One way, i.e Rs.160 two ways return ticket. Rs.10 extra for people who choose to ride on upper deck floor.
- Toy Train Ride Costs : Rs.10 for about a 1 kilometre fun ride, Worth to save getting exhausted walking under hot sun.
- Toll Charges / Island fees (Gram Panchayat) : Rs. 5 Per person.
- Caves Entry Ticket Fees : Rs.10 for Locals, Citizen or any Indian. Foreigners and NRI needs to pay Rs.250 as its a tourist attraction. No credit card allowed.
- Bathroom, Wash room Or Toilet charges : Rs.5
- Paid Guide inside Elephanta : Don’t know the charges, But as said by few they are costly.
The main spot to start with elephanta journey is Gateway of India. Two Nearest Station reaches here, Western Railway Mumbai Local Train its “Churchgate” station and on Central Railway Route it “CST” station. Next, take a taxi for gateway which takes almost Minimum fair (Maximum Rs.25 to 30), 5 to 10 minutes max. Major outstation trains halts at Dadar, Bandra, Kurla and CST station all on same central railway route, this is for those staying outside Mumbai city.
Domestic and International Airport of Mumbai at Andheri / Santacruz is at about road distance of 20 km. If you are one who are directly reaching the spot from Airport, take a private taxi, cool cab which runs on electronic meter or to save on journey time and avoid bad traffic, take up local train.
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