Just 6 miles to the east of Mumbai is a collection of islands. These islands are home to the Elephanta Caves. These caves were named by the Portuguese explorers that discovered elephants carved into the walls of these stunning caves. At high tide, the island is just under four square miles in size. Five caves make up the island, and each is as fascinating as the next. Getting to the caves is fairly simple. There is a ferry that runs between 9am and 2pm daily.
Once on the island, you can explore this collection of cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The caves dated back to the second century and were under construction for several centuries. In these caves, rock sculptures are carved directly from the basalt cave walls. The most celebrated of these sculptures are Trimurti Sadashiva (three-faced Shiva), Nataraja (Lord of dance), and Yogishvara (Lord of Yoga). These sculptures tower over visitors by standing just under 18ft tall.
All of these sculptures are in the Grand Cave or Cave 1. The interior of this cave is set up as a square with a mandapa in the middle. This cave is home to the main temple on the island. Each wall of this cave has many carvings related to the mythology of Lord Shiva or associated deities. The central main painting of Trimurti is located closer to the main entrance. The most important sculpture of this cave is the Trimurti statue 20 feet high.
Some other caves, including Caves 2, 4, and 7, were either unfinished, abandoned, or in ruins. In addition to these caves, there is cave 6. The largest cave, cave 6, is on Stupa Hill. This cave is called the Sitabai Temple. As the cave opens up, an entrance is supported by four pillars. There is a three-chambered hall at the back of the entrance. One of the most incredible aspects of this temple is that it is a final resting place for Buddhist monks.
The best time to visit the monuments during the winter season (November to the end of February). This helps you avoid the hot and muggy summers of Mumbai. February is particularly amazing because of the two-day Elephant Festival. This festival has a great collection of music and dance. The festival, in recent years, has been moved to the Gateway of India to have more space for people to attend.
Don't forget to schedule a consultation to start planning your trip!