Elephanta Island also called Gharapuri Island or place of caves is one of a number of islands in Mumbai Harbour, east of Mumbai, India. The island has an area of 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi). The area comes under the jurisdiction of the Raigad district in Maharashtra State.
Known in ancient times as Gharapuri, the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here 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 and Albert Museum (now Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum) in Mumbai, by the British. This island was once the capital of a powerful local kingdom.
Tourist attractions and accessibility:
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 (130 Rupees [round-trip ticket] for "luxury boats". The first ferry leaves at 9 am, 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 or trashcans.