Away from the hustle bustle of busy Mumbai life, Elephanta Island can be your perfect escape from all the worries for a while. Located at a distance of approximate 10kms from Mumbai, this island has everything that constitutes of picturesque beauty of nature. Lying amidst the magnificent Arabian Sea, this island can be the perfect weekend getaway for spending some quality time with friends and family. I visited Mumbai in February this year and no doubt Elephanta Island is one of the best places I explored in Mumbai. So, if you are a Mumbaikar or someone who wants to visit Mumbai, do not miss out the exciting trip to Elephanta Island because this journey would be worth all the effort you put into it. Let me rewind my experience of the island because some journeys are destined to be inked, read and told!
The way to Island (How to reach):
I was very excited for this weekend trip. I had boarded the local train from Mahim to Church gate. After taking a cab from Church gate I reached Gateway of India by 8.00am. It is preferred to reach early there to avoid the excessive rush and of course the summer heat and sun tans. Once I was done with watching the exquisite beauty of Gateway of India, I headed towards the ferry which would take me to the beautiful island of caves and rock structures. The ticket costs around 140/- for adults and 90/- for children. The journey of the first ferry commences at 9 am sharp. As I sat on the ferry, the cool winds ushering through the Arabian Sea waves could be felt and that feeling gave me a tinge of serenity and solace. People all around the ferry were busy clicking photographs and making memories. I also did make my part of memories. One of the interesting and beautiful things I witnessed on this journey was the sea gulls who seemed our perfect companion in the one-hour long journey. They were flying with the ferry and even ate food items offered by the tourists.
Exploring the Island:
Once on the island, one can see how beautiful the scene looks. Amidst the Arabian Sea and gigantic mountain lies the nature’s beauty in the form of this island. There are some local stalls offering snacks, souvenirs, funky jewelry and cute hats too. The major attraction of Elephanta Island is the Elephanta caves and one can reach there through a toy train which drops you at the stairs of the Elephanta caves. The ticket for the cute toy train comes for Rs 10. I must say the journey to the island and the caves are as interesting as the destination itself. Once reaching the stairs, I saw a series of stalls selling everything possible. From jewelry to toys, from souvenirs to clothes and artistic sculptures, these stalls had it all. Though the shopkeepers here keep everything a little overpriced, if you have good bargaining skills, you can get it at reasonable rates. There are 120 stairs that one needs to take to reach the caves. I was literally getting out of breath once I reached the caves. Also, the monkeys wandering on the island can create real menace if one is not careful with his/her belongings. The entry fee for the caves is Rs 10 for Indians and Rs 250 for foreigners. The beauty of the caves has a historical touch in it. With magnificent scriptures of Hindu gods carved intricately with stones, this cave is a masterpiece in itself. Apart from this, Canon Hills situated at the top of the island is another attraction where one can sit, relax and enjoy nature’ beauty.
Places to eat:
The resort run by the MTDC offers delicious local delicacies at reasonable rates that one must try. The Maharashtra food it offers can give your taste buds the much-needed delight.
Though the island does not have accommodations to stay overnight, one can take rest in the Maharashtra Tourism department hotel during the day time. The hotel needs to be checked out at 5.00pm which is the time for the last ferry to go back.
Mumbai isn’t just a city. It is a story in itself and my trip to Elephanta Island is one of the many beautiful stories and memories that Mumbai gave me.