Elephanta Island is 9 kilometers (some say 7 or 10) northeast from Mumbai Harbour. The island is home to a cave system that has been turned into both Hindu and Buddhist temples, with basalt rock carved into pillars and gods, including a 6-meter tall Sadashiva. In olden times, the island was called Gharapuri which literally means “city of caves”, kept afloat by an arm of the Arabian Sea.
The larger group contains Hindu images – with rock cut stone sculptures representing Shiva, while the smaller one has Buddhist carvings. Sometime in 1534, the Portuguese explorers came and ruled over the region.
What they found was a behemoth statue of an Elephant “guarding” the island, thus they renamed Gharapuri as such. In the caves, all they found were a few Kshatrapa coins from the 4th century. Nothing else. The aforementioned elephant statue, though still in existence, has since been transferred in the Victorian Garden outside Bhau Daji Lad in Central Mumbai.
|Bucher (or Butcher ) Island is a fortress-like structure en route to Elephanta Island.|
|A short train ride costs 10 rupees. I didn't bother.|
|A short walk from here to those establishments. At the back of those structures are the caves. If walking is "too much" for you, you can take the 10-rupee train (above).|
|Affordable meals at the Elephanta Port Restaurant|
|Map of Elephanta Island|
|The elephant statue found by the Portuguese guarding the cave. This photo only courtesy of wikipedia.|
|Shiva as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer.|
|Asi Site Museum|
|Fiery sun reluctantly sets over Mumbai.|
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