UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ruined splendour. History class. The Elephanta Island, named after a colossal elephant that was discovered here, is home to the architecturally superior cave site. In the first of our day trip specials in and around Mumbai, MiD-DAY photographer Pradeep Dhivar trains his lens on this man-made marvel.
Wounded lions: While the face of the guardian lion on the left side of the Linga Shrine in Cave 1 has been destroyed, the one to the right has stood the test of time
SHIVA’S PARADISE: The Brahmanical-themed reliefs made from basalt stone sculpted from of the hill itself contain a series of stunning sculpture panels that showcase one of the world’s most important collections honouring the cult of Shiva
PIER peek: This image captured from the heights of the Elephanta Caves site is of the pier where boats arrive and leave to Mumbai, the neighbouring islands, and the rest of the Konkan coast
Carved in history: Inside Cave 1, Shiva as Maheshmurti
ON THE WORLD’S RADAR: These caves met with stringent criteria laid down by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in a ten-point agenda and since 1987 is part of an elite group of 936 properties from across the globe. Ajanta and Ellora Caves is the only other site from Maharashtra on this list. Apart from Delhi, no major Indian city can boast of a World Heritage Site in its backyard
ISLAND EXPRESS: A tourist tries to get a snapshot of the toy train that chugs towards the base of the Elephanta Caves site
How to get there
Buy a one-way or return ticket from one of the many authorised tour operators at the Gateway of India. Launches depart every 30 minutes. Ideally, aim for a morning departure to avoid the heat and tourist rush. Weekends can get crowded too. Half a day is sufficient to cover the caves.
What to Carry
>> Comfortable walking shoes
>> Shades, cap/bandana
>> Adequate drinking water
>> Packed lunchPS: Carry your litter back to the city, and dispose it, accordingly.