Rich in history and a cultural legacy, Mumbai has some famous tourist locations around. The city has much to offer to those who love to explore. One place worth visiting when in Mumbai include the Elephanta Caves amongst many other iconic sites. These caves have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in 1987. Established more than 3,000 years ago, the Elephanta Caves (also known as the Island of Gharapuri) are rock-cut archaeological remains of the temples built on an island north-east of the Gateway of India.
Seeing the famous Elephanta Caves is often on the list of many visitors to Mumbai. However, the effort of having to take an hour long ferry ride from the Gateway of India, often ends with this visit being shifted down the list and often cancelled altogether. The trip to Elephanta can also be rather formidable for elderly history visitors anxious to see the caves. Reaching the jetty, a visitor has to walk up 120 steep steps from the shore beach to reach the main cave. For them there is however, a tourist toy train for those who prefer not to walk.
Mumbai offers a dazzling range of experiences, from exploring the city’s fantastical architecture to escaping into a tangle of jungle or going birdwatching. You can, in the space of a few days, take a boat trip to Elephanta island, with its ancient cave temples, explore the sets of Bollywood, try historic Iranian recipes in a historic Parsi café, or cycle through the city in the early morning as it slowly wakes up from a heavy sleep. Get exploring with Telegraph Travel’s Mumbai expert, Abigail Blasi.
Colaba & Fort
Marvel at Mumbai’s magnificent railway station
So gothic that you might expect bats to come swooping out from its pinnacles, domes and buttresses, Mumbai’s main railway station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is the preeminent emblem of the 19th-century colonial-era architecture that dots the city, built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The station may have colonial origins, but its constant throng of passengers epitomises Mumbai’s energy more than anywhere else.
Insider’s tip: The architecture is an extraordinary reimagining of Indian culture through 19th-century British eyes and is not to be missed.
Deepa Bhoir used to sit in darkness outside her island home and stare at Mumbai glowing in the distance. Now she stays up late watching soap operas – one of millions of Indians whose lives have been transformed by a drive to get power to every corner of the country.
Bhoir and her husband Sasuram are among hundreds of villagers on the UNESCO world heritage-listed island of Elephanta to have had mains electricity installed in their houses for the first time.
Local officials hope tourists, who take a short boat ride from the bustle of Mumbai to visit the island’s famed fifth century caves, will now spend more time and money there, boosting local businesses and jobs.
“We’ve waited decades for this and we’re so happy. Now I can watch all my favourite shows without any interruptions. The TV is almost always on!” Bhoir tells AFP, grinning.
The island is renowned for its temple caves dating back more than 1,500 years and is home to around 1,200 people.
Three travel writers, Maria Visconti, Christina Pfeiffer and Rama Gaind discover amazing places to visit in Mumbai and unique things to do off the beaten track.
There is something about Mumbai, a sense of being part of a massive enterprise, a feeling of palpable energy coming from the most populous and wealthiest city in India with the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia. Mumbai has the largest number of skyscrapers and the highest number of billionaires and millionaires in India. Here are some interesting things to do in Mumbai from the perspective of three travel writers.
THINGS TO DO IN MUMBAI
1- TAKE A RIDE ON THE MUMBAI SEALINK
As much as I admire the grand Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus (known before as the Victoria Terminus Station and now a UNESCO World Heritage site) the futuristic, multi-lane Sealink connecting Worli to Bandra makes me gasp with admiration.
This 6km-long engineering feat curves like a silvery scimitar over the Arabian Sea helping decongest the most popular roads in the city.
I cannot but chuckle with glee at the sight of the new India, created by Indians.
To say that the entire stretch is ripe for a stampede is putting it mildly.
Anjuli Bhargava’s first-person account.
I spent two weeks in Mumbai recently doing what I usually or almost never do.
I visited the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, watched a musical at the National Center for Performing Arts, went to Jehangir Art Gallery and the modern art museum next to it, visited the absolutely charming Mukesh Mills and Sassoon Docks (with its art projects), went for long walks on Marine Drive, stopping at Gaylord for a pastry, spent an afternoon sailing courtesy the Yacht club, explored the lanes, new cafes, street vendors and shops behind the Taj, went to Leopold Cafe & Bar, Theobroma and Café Mondegar, ambled in the streets and cafes of Kala Ghoda, ate a Gujrati thali, among other usual Mumbai delights.
I found the city — with its artsy yet modern feel and delightful nooks and crannies — continues to thrill me in a way Delhi — the city of my birth — has never managed to do.
After a gap of nine years, Maharashtra government will start hosting its much famous Elephanta festival, which was stopped due to security concerns following the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.
The 29th edition of the Elephanta Festival would be held on 27-28 January, organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
To be held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the festival originally commenced in 1989 and is considered one of the most prominent festivals of the state which showcase dance, music and art in all its glory.
“The artists will interpret the different art forms and will also revive its eternal significance. The Elephanta Festival is the replication of the Maharashtrian culture, with vibrant colours, customs and traditions which depict the diversity of state’s rich culture and legacy,” Tourism and Employment Guarantee Scheme Minister Jaykumar Rawal said.
The Elephanta Island, where the festival happens is located around seven nautical miles off the Gateway of India and is a popular tourist destination. Administratively, it comes under the Uran taluka of Raigad district of Maharashtra.
The Elephanta Island or Gharapuri has three villages – Shetbandar, Morabandar and Rajbandar.
Elephanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant near the entrance, Gharapuri was named as Elephanta by Portuguese. One of the must visit place if you are exploring Mumbai city.
Reaching elephant caves is very easy. Ferry from Gateway of India will take you to this island. Return journey fare is INR 200, tickets easily available near gateway of India and there is no need for prior booking. It takes around one hour to reach the island.
There is a mini/ toy train that carries passengers from the alighting point to the gate. Charges for this ride is INR 10. Highly recommend if you are visiting this place with kids. Entry fee to the island is INR 5 per person.
You can find lot of stalls on the pavement and can enjoy snacks, drinks, and deliciously tangy fruits here.
Here are all the details on how to reach Elephanta Caves from the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
Mumbai is surrounded by some cool getaways which make for wonderful picnic spots. One such spot is Elephanta Caves. A delight for history buffs and mythology enthusiasts, Elephanta Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are located on the Elephanta island and hold special significance for Shiva devotees on account of the ancient sculptures here. The rock-cut architecture here takes you back to an era of brilliant architecture.
The best way to get to Elephanta island is from the Gateway of India, a prime tourist attraction in Mumbai. You can reach the Gateway of India directly by road, or by taking a cab from prominent railway stations like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on the Central and harbour lines and Churchgate on the Western Line.
Caves in India are a proof of architecture and way of life during pre-historic times. Once you visit these places, you would never come back unimpressed by the stories depicted through their rock carvings that attribute to their splendid architecture.
I, for one, have always appreciated the rich culture and heritage of our country and crave to know more about it. This makes me push myself off my own comfort zone and travel places. However, when not travelling, I simply get out into my backyard to walk through its overlooked alleyways where we can find history buried behind the blocks of high- rises and shanties of its slums.
Mumbai has its own list when it comes to caves and if you are a history buff, go cave hopping in Mumbai during weekends and you get the dose of bygone days up and close.
I have always been a sucker for historic places. These places make you wonder how old our civilization is, how ahead we have come in time and how much further we need to be. Writing on Forms of Shiva at Elephanta Caves is probably the most difficult things I have had to do. It is not because it would be my first blog of such kind (which it is) but everything about the place one of a kind experience from the beginning to the end.
It started by catching a ferry ride from Gate way of India opposite Taj Hotel. Anyone who’s lived in Mumbai even for a day would tell you what a privilege it is to stand in front of that rich heritage, a landmark that defines Mumbai.