Elephanta Island (also called Gharapuri Island or place of caves) is one of a number of islands in Mumbai
Harbour, east of Mumbai, India
. This island is a popular tourist destination for a day trip because of the island's cave temples, the Elephanta Caves, that have been carved out of rock.
Tourist attractions and accessibility
The island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai, being about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the south east coast of the island city. Boats leave daily from the Gateway of India, taking about an hour each way for the journey. The tickets for these can be bought at the Gateway itself (130 Rupees [round-trip ticket] for "luxury boats"; should you choose to sit on the upper deck of the boat you'll need to pay 10 Rupees more each way on the boat). The first ferry leaves at 9 am, the last at 2 pm. From the boat landing stage on the island, a walkway leads to steps that go up to the famous caves.
There is also a narrow-gauge toy train that you may choose to ride from the boat area on the dock to the base of the steps leading up to the caves (about 600 meters) which costs 5 Rupees per passenger each way. Along the path, hawkers sell souvenirs like necklaces, anklets, showpieces and keychains.
There are also stalls to buy food and drinks; be aware that you will likely pay a little more than the MRP stamped on food/drink as many vendors charge more due to the "difficulty" of obtaining and cooling these items on the island. Small monkeys play along the sides of the path, occasionally thieving items from the hawkers or trashcans.
Known in ancient times as Gharapuri, the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here near the entrance.
There are a total of three villages: Shentbandar, Morabandar, and Rajbandar, of which Rajbandar is the capital. Caves and stalls can be seen in Shentbandar. Morabandar has a thick forest. Staying overnight is not permitted for tourists. The first return ferry leaves at 12:30pm and the last at 5:30pm.