This weekend we have been at the Elephanta Island, just outside Mumbai. I was here the first time I visited Mumbai, some three years agou. At that time it was raining a lot, and the trip wasn’t that nice. This time I was there with colleagues from India and Poland. It’s a bit funny that some Indian colleagues rely on me to show them around in Mumbai. But well, I have off course stayed longer in Mumbai than those who have just came here from another part of India.
The island is full of pesky monkeys. If you ever plan to go there, I would highly recommend that you leave food and such things at home. They even hunt for bottles you might be carrying! In order to get to the island you have to take a ferry that take about an hour or so each way. This time it was actually fewer monkeys and more tourists than it was last time I was there. My Polish colleague commented that this is one of the most touristic places he has ever seen in Mumbai. And that’s probably true. There are a lot of people who sell things to tourists everywhere. I must admit that I find it a bit strange that it really is like this, as the island is so far away from main Mumbai. If you are on a short trip to Mumbai, I’m not sure if I would recommend to spend half a day, as it easily take that much time, here, but if you are longer in Mumbai, it is surely worth a visit.
Home to a labyrinth of cave-temples carved into the basalt rock of the island, the artwork represents some of the most impressive temple carving in all India. The main Shiva-dedicated temple is an intriguing latticework of courtyards, halls, pillars and shrines, with the magnum opus a 6 m tall statue of Sadhashiva –depicting a three-faced Shiva as destroyer, creator and preserver of the universe.
The temples are thought to have been created between AD 450 and 750, when the island was known as Gharapuri (Place of Caves). The Portuguese renamed it elephant because of a large stone elephant near the shore, which collapsed in 1814 and was moved by the British to Mumbai’s Victoria Gardens.
Another thing that is at this island is something that looked like a cargo port! I must admit that last time I was at the island I didn’t see that, and I’m still quite surprised to see that anyone chooses to build a port for big cargo ships at an island! According to my understanding it must add on the costs of transportation if you have to first move things to another ship, and then only after that you can put everything onshore. Maybe it is just because the water is not deep enough when you go further? Or maybe I actually didn’t see it right and that the port was actually located at the mainland behind the island.
Talk to you soon!