Elephanta Island

Coordinates: 18°57′36″N 72°56′06″E / 18.96°N 72.935°E / 18.96; 72.935
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Elephanta Island
Island Neighbourhood
The island as seen from close to the boat landing
The island as seen from close to the boat landing
Elephanta Island is located in Mumbai
Elephanta Island
Elephanta Island
Coordinates: 18°57′36″N 72°56′06″E / 18.96°N 72.935°E / 18.96; 72.935
 • OfficialMarathi
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)

Elephanta Island (also called Gharapuri[1] (literally "the city of caves") or Pory Island[2]) is one of a number of islands in Mumbai Harbour, east of Mumbai, India.[3]

Tourist attractions and accessibility[edit]

Map of Elephanta Island

This island is a popular tourist destination because of the island's cave temples, the Elephanta Caves, that have been carved out of rock.

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. The tickets for these can be bought at the Gateway itself. The first ferry leaves at 9 am and 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 from the boat area on the dock to the base of the steps leading up to the caves (about 600 meters). Along the path, hawkers sell souvenirs like necklaces, anklets, showpieces and keychains. There are also stalls to buy food and drinks. Small monkeys play along the sides of the path, occasionally thieving items from the hawkers, trashcans and tourists.

Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) has plans to connect the island from Haji Bunder, Mumbai via Ropeway.[4] Once built, it will take only 14 minutes to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site whereas currently ferry takes about an hour.[5]


Known in ancient times as Gharapuri (or, 'place of caves'), the name Elephanta island, was given by 16th-century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found near the entrance. They decided to take it home but ended up dropping it into the sea because their chains were not strong enough. Later, this sculpture was moved to the Victoria Gardens[1] and then the Victoria and Albert Museum (now Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum) in Mumbai, by the British.[6] This island was once the capital of a powerful local kingdom. In Manuscript F by Leonardo da Vinci (kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France) there is a note in which he says "Map of Elephanta in India which Antonello the haberdasher has." It is unclear who this Florentine traveller Antonello might have been.


The island has an area of 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi). It is located at approximately 18°57′N 72°56′E / 18.95°N 72.93°E / 18.95; 72.93. The area comes under the jurisdiction of the Raigad district in Maharashtra.

Agricultural makeup[edit]

The island is thickly wooded with palm, mango, and tamarind trees.


It has a population of about 1,200 people. The inhabitants are mainly involved in growing rice, fishing and repairing boats. There are two British-era cannons at the top. Quite recently, a small dam has been built so as to hold rainwater but that part of the island is privately owned and not accessible for tourists.

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 which is the first village accessed by tourists when they arrive on the island. Morabandar is covered with thick forest. Staying overnight after sunset on the island is not permitted for tourists as they are expected to leave before the departure of the last return ferry. The first return ferry leaves at 12:30 p.m. and the last return ferry leaves at 6:30 p.m. The ferry service is closed in the monsoon season for four months due to torrential rains at the sea.



  1. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Elephanta Isle" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 261.
  2. ^ Da Cunha, J. Gerson (1993). The Origin of Bombay. Asian Educational Services. p. 96. ISBN 978-81-206-0815-3.
  3. ^ Kail, Owen C (1984). Elephanta, the Island of Mystery. Taraporevala. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  4. ^ Naik, Yogesh (6 March 2019). "Mumbai-Elephanta Caves ropeway project: Elephanta ropeway has just one more hurdle to clear - Mumbai Mirror". mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  5. ^ Nag, Devanjana (12 August 2019). "India's longest ropeway over sea! Soon, travel from Mumbai to Elephanta Caves in just 14-minutes". The Financial Express. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  6. ^ HT Cafe, Mumbai, Monday, 4 June 2007 pg.31 - Article "Lord of the Islands" by Jerry Pinto

External links[edit]