just 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai are the cave temples of
Elephanta island. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th
century CE. The caves of Elephanta are a great tourist attraction in the
vicinity of the Mumbai meteropolis.
Scooped out of solid rock, the Elephanta Caves date back to 600 AD, and beckon more visitors each year than the entire city of Mumbai. No doubt, this place reverberates with the spiritual energy of India. These rock cut temples dedicated to Shiva Mahadeva are rich in sculptural content. The cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos arranged in the splendid symmetry of Indian rock-cut architecture, and detailed with exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It is situated on Gharapuri Island in Mumbai's harbour, about an hour's boatride from the Gateway Of India. At the entrance to the caves is the famous Trimurti, the celebrated trinity of Elephanta : they are - Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva, the Destroyer. Unfortunately, many of the sculptures inside have been damaged by iconoclastic Portuguese rulers who took potshots at Hindu Gods with their rifles. And yet somehow, nothing has disturbed the sublime beauty of this place for centuries.
The entire cave temple complex covers an area of about 60000 square feet and it consists a main chamber and two lateral ones, courtyards and several subsidiary shrines. The entire temple is akin to a huge sculpture, through whose corridors and chambers one can walk. The entire complex was created through a process of rock removal.
Reaching Elephant Caves -
Air : The nearest airport is at Mumbai.
Rail : Nearest railhead is also at Mumbai.
Road : One can reach Mumbai by road from the neighbouring states, from where one can take a boat ride to the cave temples.
Boat : Motorboats take passengers from Appollo Bunder near the Gateway of India.