A Boat Ride to Elephanta Islands
Elephanta is a lush green island which is about 10km off the east coast of Mumbai (Bombay) in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The island is famous for the huge and intricately carved Elephanta Caves, a collection of ancient cave temples dating back to the 8th century. The only way to reach Elephanta island is taking an hour boat ride departing from the "Gateway of India" across Mumbai Harbour. Elephanta Caves on the island consist of a group of five Hindu caves and a few Buddhist stupa mounds that date back to the 2nd century BCE and a smaller group of two Buddhist caves with water tanks. The caves' entire architecture is hewn from solid basalt rock, which contain various phenomenal stone carvings and sculptures that show syncretism of ideas, iconography, and mythologies in Hindu and Buddhism. The main cave (or the Great Cave) was once a commonly-visited Hindu place of worship until the Portuguese arrived. The ancient artworks now are mostly defaced or ruined, though they've been through a restoration in the 1970s. The caves was recognized a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and have become a popular tourist site for those who are travelling in Mumbai.