Lying in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in Western India, Elephanta Island is an important Hindu temple site dating back to the 5th century.
The 4-square-mile island is capped by two hills dominated by rock-cut Hindu temples. The largest and most important Elephanta Cave temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. Inside, a 22-feet high bust of Shiva dominates the temple’s entryway. The bust depicts Shiva in three forms of his many aspects: creator, preserver, and destroyer.
The hills on Elephanta Island house numerous, maze-like temple structures carved directly into the basalt rock that forms the island. Inside the temples, 20-feet-high sculptures guard doorways and line halls, and numerous decorative friezes depicting the epic Hindu creation story the Ramayana adorn the walls. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the temples and sculptures are representative of the zenith of Hindu art and architecture. UNESCO states the caves “constitute one of the greatest examples of Indian art…”
The best weather to visit Elephanta Island and the historic rock-cut temples found in the hills falls between October and March. April through June the ambient temperature steadily rises until refreshing seasonal rains begin to fall in July continuing through September.
Elephanta Island is located in Mumbai’s Harbor in the Arabian Sea. Mumbai is the capital of the West Indian state of Maharashtra, and is best reached by direct flight from the Indian capital city of Delhi.
Elephanta Island is best reached by motor launch departing from The Gateway of India on the Mumbai Harbor while on one of our luxury tours of India.
The Elephanta Caves are a testament to the strength and skill of the Hindu religion’s devotees. The stunning sculptures and quietly reverent atmosphere should not be missed while sightseeing on a tour in India.
Appropriate Attire :
Dress for warm weather and wear stout shoes as the cave complexes are quite large, and it will take some time to explore them fully on foot.