Navigating your way to Elephanta Caves

2023-07-05 00:04:34 - Grace Browns Grace Browns has been a lifestyle, fashion, and beauty writer for over 5 years, and she currently serves as a senior editor at

The Elephanta caves can be found on an island situated off the Mumbai coastline.

To begin your journey, make your way to Mumbai, which is known for its excellent connectivity within India. There are numerous daily flights and trains that operate to Mumbai (BOM) from major cities across the country, as well as international connections.

Once you arrive in Mumbai, head towards the iconic Gateway of India. This landmark serves as the starting point for the ferries that will take you to Elephanta Island. While the area can get quite crowded during peak hours, Mumbai boasts an exceptional suburban local rail network.

No matter where you are in Mumbai, you can catch a local train to Churchgate or CST station. Both of these stations are terminal points, making it easier for you to get in and out. Furthermore, CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) railway station itself is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From either Churchgate or CST, you can choose to walk along the heritage lane towards the Gateway of India, which takes about 20 to 30 minutes, or opt for a 10-minute taxi ride.

Alternatively, you can rely on city buses or taxis to reach the Gateway of India. Auto-rickshaws are not permitted in this part of the city. Once you arrive at the Gateway of India, you will only be an hour away from Elephanta Island by ferry. As you approach this area, you'll easily spot the grandeur of the Gateway of India structure facing the sea. Simply head towards it, and on your left, you'll find the boarding point for the ferry to Elephanta. Most likely, by this time, agents selling ferry tickets for Elephanta and other trips will have approached you, loudly shouting "ELEPHANTAAA!!"


Officially, the tickets are sold at a nearby counter. The return ticket costs Rs 120 (USD 3), and an additional Rs 10 is collected once on board the boat for a seat on the upper deck. The premium is worth it, as it allows for a panoramic view, with relatively fewer crowds and less noise.

After purchasing your ticket, inquire about the boarding directions. If a boat is not already boarding, you may have to wait for the next one to arrive. Typically, a boat leaves for Elephanta every 30 minutes. Just ensure that you're boarding the Elephanta boat and not a local sightseeing one.

On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of the Elephanta Island on the horizon from the Gateway of India. However, due to the haze, it may be impossible to see the island, which is approximately 11 km (7 miles) away from the shore. Regardless, halfway through your journey, you'll notice a small island on your left known as Butcher's Island, which serves as a mooring jetty for oil tankers. Continuing in the direction of the boat, the forest-covered island of Elephanta will come into view.

Upon reaching Elephanta, the boat will drop you off at the jetty located on the northern part of the island. The cave temple is about a kilometer's walk from the jetty, or roughly under a mile.

To make your way from the jetty to the base of the hill, you have the option of taking a small toy train for Rs 5 one way or walking along the pier. This path will lead you to the entrance of Gharapuri village. Keep in mind that there is a security gate and a village entry fee of Rs 5 that needs to be paid.

In order to reach the plateau where the caves are situated, it is necessary for you to embark on a challenging journey of traversing the 120 steps. This path will lead you through a bustling marketplace teeming with an assortment of intriguing trinkets, souvenir shops, guidebooks, and T-shirt vendors. At the culmination of this path, you will find the ticket counter for the caves.

For those individuals who are unable to navigate the steps to the caves, there is also a palanquin service available at the island.

The final hurdle before entering the courtyard of the primary cave in Elephanta is the line at the Archeological Survey of India Ticket counter.

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