/ / The Elephanta Island

The Elephanta Island

Photos and description

A unique place called Elephanta Island, also known as the island of Gharapuri, situated East of Mumbai, on one of the many Islands of the city harbour. This mysterious island is a real magnet for tourists from around the world. After all, his biggest attraction are the underground stone cave temples, which feature a huge number of beautiful statues. The entire temple complex in 1987 was included in the world Heritage list of UNESCO.

Its present name Elephanta island got in the XVII century thanks to Portuguese explorers, after they near the entrance to a cave temple complex was discovered carved from a solid piece of basalt sculpture of an elephant (elephant elephant). They decided to take her to Portugal, but this idea failed, as they dropped it into the sea. It was later raised from the bottom by the British, and at the moment this stone statue is in the Museum Dr. bhau Daji lad, the former Victoria and albert Museum.

The island can be easily reached by ferry, which operates between Elephanta and harbour of Mumbai. He daily, 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. departs from the pier right next to the historic gateway of India, and all the way to the destination takes about an hour. From the island's pier to the caves is a straight road. Also, to get to the temples, you can take a small tram that takes visitors directly to the steps leading to the caves. All along the road there are stores and shops where you can purchase a variety of jewelry, Souvenirs, food and drinks.

The area around the island is only about 16kv km, earlier it was the capital of one of the local principalities. Today it is home to about 1,200 people who mostly are engaged in farming - growing rice and fishing and repairing boats. Located on Elephanta three settlements: Shetlander, Morabaha and Rajbhandari, the latter is the original capital of the island. The temple caves are located on the territory of Sinbandera.

The exact date of the creation of the caves is unknown. It is assumed that this is approximately the VII century ad, when an ancient Indian Gupta Empire experienced its "Golden age", and culture flourished and developed. Then came the idea of building the temple in honor of the Hindu God Shiva.

The caves can be accessed via the main North entrance, which leads into a large room supported by several massive pillars. It was in this hall is a huge statue of Maheshamurti. Its height is 6.3 meters, and it depicts the God Shiva in his three aspects of Creator, Protector and Destroyer. Other sculptures located near the entrance and on the side panels, represent the achievement Shiva. As, for example, a sculpture depicting the process of creation Shiva the Ganges river.

When you visit the island, remember that tourists are forbidden to stay in Elephanta at night, so you need to catch the last return ferry.

Every year in February, at the initiative of the Development Corporation Maharashtra Tourism, the island dance festival takes place.