Elephanta Caves

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Elephanta Caves

Heard about the caves on numerous occasions, but I visited Elephanta Caves for the first time last month. Elephanta Caves is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. So we three ladies decided to visit the caves.

7.30 AM: We reached Andheri station at 7.45 AM to board a Churchgate local (45 minutes) and from Churchgate station, a cab (10 minutes ride) to Apollo Bunder (Ferry Wharf). A beautiful morning and a beautiful view – the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel & the Tower. Wow!

Ferry return ticket costs INR 180 per person and the 1.5 hours boat ride from Mumbai city takes you to the Elephanta Island, originally known as Gharapuri derived from the massive stone image of Elephant. If you want to enjoy the boat roof/deck view then you got to shell out an additional Rs.10.

One boat capacity is for about 62 people and if you book an entire boat it will cost INR 12,000 for four hours. Not advisable even if you are in a group as the round trip takes at least 6 hours, and negotiating is a task there.

Foreign tourists, Indian tourists (from various states) and locals gave us company in the ferry among some sellers and the crew. Ferry was less crowded in comparison to the Alibaug ferry—enough place to sit and many seats empty.

11 AM – We reached Elephanta Island; at the jetty, there are various hawkers selling books on the heritage site, hats, caps, and interesting local recipes. You can refresh yourself with energy drinks and local quick recipes, like we relished the spicy-sweet-sour raw mango pieces dipped in chilli powder and the all-time favourite Aam Papad (Mango Leather). From the jetty, a mini train ride (INR 10 per person round trip) takes you towards the caves. You can chose to walk towards the cave entrance from jetty, train is an option.

There is INR 5 ticket per person to be purchased – this is the village entry fee you need to pay, following which the next pay, INR 10 per person, is at the caves.

Once you get down from the toy train, again various colourful displays by hawkers selling different items welcomes you. This is just the beginning as once you traverse the path leading to the caves, you will come across handicrafts from across India displayed on either sides of the 120 broad steps that lead you to the caves.

The 120 steps trek path is shaded with the typical blue plastic commonly used in India as protection against heat and rains, and also from the hyper active monkeys all around. The entire path due to the coloured shade gives a strange blue glow, and coupled with the chiming of bells and wind chimes, in an abstract way the ethos in itself tells you a story – a story of spirituality, of the history of mankind, of the ancient India. It took us an hour & ten minutes to finally reach the caves. Of course, some time was spent shopping, talking and a short breakfast break. Three ladies together – a little chit chatting is expected. 😉

Some DO’s & DON’T’s

  • Wear Comfortable shoes – avoid flats/heels as your feet will hurt climbing up and down the 120 stairs.
  • Breathable clothing, preferably cotton, is a must. The plastic covering can make you uncomfortable in synthetic garments.
  • Carry a shawl or jacket as you may feel cold in morning due to lower temperature and breeze.
  • Caps and glares are advisable, but beware of the monkeys snatching your belongings.
  • A backpack bag will be a better option as carrying a shoulder bag all the way up the stairs is slightly tiring. Also ensure you carry bare minimum essentials in your bags. Anything you need (except medicines and first aid kit) can be bought from the shops around.
  • Tread the way up admiring the display of Indian handicrafts and other beautiful craftsman workmanship. Many are worth buying which are exhibited at very affordable and reasonable prices. A glass turtle, a compass, a wooden ship, an anklet and a bracelet – were my purchases in INR 500 only!
  • Take a halt – have breakfast or at least an energy drink on way towards the caves. This will give you the much required rest from the trekking and helps you get your glucose levels back to explore the caves and click selfies and groupies.
  • A guide – government or private – will give you relevant information on Indian History, Shiva-Brahma-Vishnu & Rituals making your trip worth it!
  • On way back be careful while taking the steps as there are high chances of tripping or a misstep if you get distracted by the surroundings. A fall can be really bad here, so be careful!
  • Carry your cameras—smart phone camera is good, but a digital/DSLR would be great.
  • Carry two rupee coins as there are pay and use washrooms situated near the entrance before you take the stairs. And yes, they are clean and usable. 🙂
  • Ensure you keep your ferry ticket safe as you need it for the trip back to the city.

The caves were a sight memorable. Words aren’t enough to describe the beauty. Pictures clicked will do some justice, and a visit for sure will be a great experience.

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Luv U Pushpa Aunty and Prajz!

3.30 PM: I had a great time at Elephanta Caves and the following coffee & conversations at Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was equally interesting. The cappuccino and cheesecake was just worth it my ladies! Thank you for some good memories!

Happy Women’s Day to all the dear ladies out there!

                                                                                                                                                                      …Ashu Bolar

Note: All the tariff mentioned in the articles are for Indian citizens. For Foreign Tourists, the tariff differs.

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