|1987||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Frederik Dawson (Netherlands / USA):
After lunchtime from the Gateway of India, a symbolic entrance to subcontinent during the British Empire in Mumbai, I took a boat ride to see the Elephanta Caves on the island of the same name just outside the metropolis. The trip took exactly one hour to reach the island passed many navy bases, cargo ports, petroleum jetties and a nuclear power plant, if not because of UNESCO protection, I believe Elephanta Island will be a part of Mumbai electrical grid production.
On the island I had been approached by the typical guide scam who always claimed that you need a proper guide to enter the caves, just ignored them. I rode the mini train from port to the island. From the train parking, I had to pay a small landing fee, and then I walked thru many souvenir shops and restaurants, these shops made the island like a market place and seemed to me that many tourists loved shopping even before seeing the caves. Since the caves were located on the hill in the middle of island, the way to the caves required some hiking. Again along the hiking route in the forest were full with souvenir shops and warning signs for monkey attack. On the hill there was another ticket counter but this time for the caves. I immediately followed people to see the cave no.1 which I believed the sole highlight of Elephanta. The cave was quite impressive than my original though. The cave was adorned with many Shiva depictions. The beautiful Shiva Nataraja next to the main entrance was really impressive even in partial ruined state. But the centerpiece of the cave was the big statue of three heads Shiva. I was really confused as many travel websites called the statue as Trimurti, from my understanding Trimurti means Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu together, and the depiction I saw was no way Brahma and Vishnu. Strangely I got the answer couples of day later while I was in Old Goa; I met an ASI archaeologist, so I asked him the question and he explained to me that my understanding was correct and the depiction should be called Maheshmurti, three heads Shiva, not Trimurti.
There were many other interesting and beautiful depictions in the caves, and I found the cave to be a great place to revive and test my Hinduism knowledge which I learned from my Indian friend when I was in high school especially the story of Shiva. I decided not to see other caves as I heard there was nothing much to see and I wanted to go back to Mumbai before sunset, so I walked back to the pier and ended my Elephanta Caves tour within 1.5 hour. In my opinion, Elephanta Caves should not be compared with Ellora or Ajanta, since the size of those two sites will definitely make Elephanta to be an underdog, but the Shiva depictions on Elephanta are more refined and graceful than Ellora For me Elephanta Caves is something like a small museum that possessed one great masterpiece that must see in India.
Date posted: January 2014 Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I reached Bombay (today called Mumbai) from Poona.
I had been advised to stay in the YMCA, which was supposed to be a good place to stay and not expensive. I went there on foot from the Gateway to India landmark; it was centrically located, but the prices were expensive for me.
Bombay reminded me London for its two stories red buses and some of the buildings in downtown.
There were many Arabs in that town, probably tourists and businessmen who travelled to India to buy gold.
I visited the downtown and then I took in the Gateway of India a ferry to Elephanta Island, at one hour journey.
Once in the island I saw the cave temples with Hindu sculptures carved out of the rock, mainly devoted to Shiva.
Since I had visited a few days earlier Ajanta and Ellora, those of Elephanta Island did not seem to me to be special, although the same location of the caves were spectacular and I was glad to have visited the site.
I considered spending the night in that island, where about one thousand people lived, but finding the place rather boring I returned to the Gateway to India, and then caught a bus to Juhu beach, which was very popular among backpackers. I discovered by the beach a pleasant hostel to spend the night at an affordable price for my budget.
The next day I continued my journey around India, heading by train to Vasco da Gama, in Goa
Date posted: August 2013 Ranjit Sarkar (USA):
Simply gorgeous! Words are not enough to describe the work of the sculptors in the 7th century. The Trimurthi statue,in my opinion,is the best. Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram!!
Date posted: November 2012 Gopala Krishna (India):
The Elephanta caves are a wonderful link to our past. We caught a boat from Belapur to the caves. A toy train is available to take us close to the caves. Unfortunately most of the tall statues were destroyed and only a few are still standing. However the famous caves are still worth a visit. There were lots of monkeys too.
Date posted: March 2012 Ian Cade (England):
First things first; the enormous carvings in the first cave really are impressive, and rank alongside the very best at Ellora/ Ajanta. However I have to say this was perhaps my biggest disappointment on my little South Asian jaunt. Aside from the impressive first cave there is really nothing else of note. The other five or six caves at the site are all devoid of decoration and some look little more than natural caves, apparently the soft stone made it difficult to carve lasting art works.
Cave 1 really is impressive and even on its own justifies the inscription on the World heritage list. I was hugely impressed by the Trimurti, a massive depiction of Shiva with three heads. The size of the other sculptures really was remarkable as well. But that was about it. I walked off in anticipation of seeing more sculptures but saw nothing but empty caves. After about 15 minutes I turned back and spent some more time in the main cave, then headed home.
This was the only site where I had trouble getting the free entry that was granted by it being Indian World Heritage week, but the attendants did eventually relent for me, but carried on charging everyone else despite the large signs saying otherwise.
The caves are on an island in Mumbai harbour and it was a nice trip out there, it take about an hour each way and boats leave from the Gateway of India. This meant I got to pay homage to my earliest travel hero, Michael Palin, by arriving at the gate from the sea.
It made a nice half day trip away from the hustle of Mumbai, and I would say it was worthwhile; however I was disappointed by the limited nature of the site.
[Site 5: Experience 3]
Date posted: November 2010 stewart ayu (canada):
Elephanta caves was a pleasant excursion near Bombay. There were monkeys and a Shiva Lingam
Date posted: September 2010 Steve (USA):
I moved with my family to India in 1951. One of the first excursion I remember was a trip to these caves. Awe inspiring, grand and simple at the same time. That trip I also had my first Indian sweets on the boat! Wow. Lucky enough to go back many times. Indian history and culture has been so unappreciated for the incredible civilization it was/is. - thanks for this site
Date posted: April 2009 Christer Sundberg (Sweden):
If you have overloaded your senses and need to get out of Mumbai for a day, a slow cruise to the Elephanta Island and the Elephanta Caves is exactly what you need.
Some 9 km north of the Gate of India, in the Sea of Oman, the Elephanta Island and its caves are the premier tourist attraction of Mumbai. The 50-minute cruise takes you from one world to another. Suddenly the air is fresh and the sound of the bustling city is far away.
Little is known about the origin of the Elephanta Caves but they are thought to have been created between 450 and 750 AD when the island was known as Gharapuri (Place of Caves). The Portuguese renamed the island Elephanta because of a large stone elephant near the shore. The statue collapsed in 1814 and the British then moved it to the mainland.
The Elephanta Caves consist of one main cave and several smaller. In the main there is a number of large sculpted panels, all relating to Shiva. Some of the rock surfaces are finely finished whereas some are unfinished bare rock. In the main cave there is an enormous central bust of Shiva with its eyes closed in eternal contemplation.
Elephanta is certainly worth a visit but foremost its a nice escape from Mumbai for half a day. Compared to the Ajanta and Ellora caves, that I later visited they tend to fall down slightly in rank.
Theodore Cantrell (USA):
I was fortunate to experience Elephanta in 1959. I was a sonarman on a US Navy
destroyer.Age 19. It was an experience that that was most memorable. Something
I wish all could enjoy.
Have you been to Elephanta Caves? Share your experiences!