Elephanta Festival held every year on February in Mumbai. The Festival has hosted by Maharashtra Tourism and Development Corporation (MTDC) to promote tourism and culture of Mumbai.
The Elephanta Festival Site
The one of the best tourist attraction in Mumbai is Elephanta Festival since some years back. The art and antiquity of this ethnic spiritual destination is rewarded as UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1987.
The world of tourist’s most preferred destination is Elephanta Island, which is the venue of the festival in Mumbai just one hour tour from Gateway of India.
This wonderful architectural natural caves located in an island also called Gharapuri Island. The world heritage site Elephanta Island is an evidence of rock-cut art and architecture since the medieval India.
Gharapuri island natively known as ‘Gharapurichi Leni’ that is just 25km away from Mumbai. It also provide a skyline view of Mumbai city.
Elephanta cave temple believed to be of back 5th to 7th centuries and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The venue of festival is Elephanta Island or Gharapuri Island.
Elephanta Island as festival venue is one of the great option for those who are much fond of rich cultural trip. The Shiva Idol called ‘Mahesh Murti’ which is known as main Idol, is illuminated for the festival.
Elephanta Festival involved spectacular dances and music performance along with folk music and dance of fishing community. Other attractions are also plays, skits, classical dances, open air music, instrumental and vocal recitals.
The entry is free. Can be easily accessible from Mumbai through ferry. From Gateway of India after every one hour from 9 am, ferry will be available to Elephanta island till 2pm daily.
The Significance of the Elephanta Island
Elephanta Island that is also home to ancient cave temple that have been curved out of rock. The island host to a bounty of nature in the form of lush plantation of palm, mango and Tamarind. The island has small population of 1200 and they engaged in fishing, cultivation and boat repairing.
The Island was once the Capital of powerful local kingdom which now formed 3 separate villages and occupied by the local Kolis and farmers. The famous Two hills of the Island are Gun Hill and Stupa Hill are the most centric attraction of the Island. The Gun hill derives it’s name from the two Canons placed on the top of the hill from the British Period. These canons played a major role to defense of the Mumbai Fort that time.
The Gun hill also the main hill where 5 caves of Lord Shiva were excavated in the mid-6th century CE. The Stupa Hill is the remaining part of the Buddhist Stupa. These cave temples along with the spectacular natural unspoiled paradise attracts tourists in the Elephanta Festival from far away and beyond the border also.
Exploring The Caves in Elephanta Festival
In Elephanta Festival the main cave of the Island is an Art and architectural masterpiece which is located at the Gun Hill. The largest Cave reflects the Shiva system of Pashupata esoteric. They believed in the philosophy of ‘Being one with Shiva’ who is the Supreme God and following ‘End of the sorrow’ as the ultimate goal of the any ascetic life.
The five sectors of the cave shows five stages of an ascetic life, those are, the importance of a teacher, his grace, illusory existence of the world, Oneness of Shiva Shakti and the ultimate form of Shiva. The main Cave is temple. For Meditation and esoteric practice there are two rooms in front of Sada Shiva image.
The side wings of the cave is probably the residential premises and private properties of the ascetics. There are seven panels of mother Goddesses in the east wing and that is a common feature of the Pashupata Temples.
Frequently Asked Questions And Answers
Ques 1. Is Elephanta Cave open for tourists ?
Ans 1. Yes. It is open for tourists from 9.30am to 5.30pm daily except Monday.
Ques 2. Which month is best to visit Elephanta Caves ?
Ans 2. After monsoon and winter season from November to February are the best time to visit Elephanta Caves.
Ques 3. Is there a ropeway in Elephanta Caves ?
Ans 3. presently there is no ropeway system in Elephanta Caves but The longest ropeway over sea will be introduced soon from Mumbai to Elephanta Caves.
Ques 4. How far is Elephanta Caves from the Gateway Of India by boat ?
Ans 4. The distance of Elephanta Caves from Gateway Of India is 11km. It takes around one hour to reach Elephanta Caves and cost Rs 260/head.
Ques 5. Is Elephanta Caves closed in Monsoon ?
Ans 5. No. It is open around the year and anybody can go in monsoon also. But due to monsoon ferry services are interrupted for high tide and unsafe condition of sea. It is advisable to avoid it in monsoon season.