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10 experiences to try at the Island of Elephanta

Tired of the usual weekend lazying around or waking up to Monday blues and thinking how fast your weekend passed away. Planning a day trip and can’t decide upon a place? If you are a sea lover and want to experience some fun and frolic by the sea, head to the Unesco World Heritage site of Elephanta Caves.

The island of Elephanta is an hour away from Gateway of India.  The ferry boat ride costs Rs.145/- for normal class and Rs.200 for luxury class. The difference between these two is that the frequency of the later boats is high.

One can buy the tickets from the office located next to the entrance to Gateway of India. Tickets are also available once you have entered Gateway of India premises. Here are 10 things to do on a day trip to Elephanta caves.

1. Ferry ride:-

When boarding the ferry ride to Elephanta, make sure to sit in the upper deck to get a better panoramic view of the sea. The boat sailing on the waves of the Arabian Sea and the seagulls flying around for morsels of food is a site to catch. The cool breeze soothes your mind and the yachts, commercial ships, tankers make you wonder about the lifestyle lived by people working on them. The calm winds also make you take a quick power nap.

2. Munching upon local food:-

It is ideal to eat small meals while travelling. You will find a lot of local eateries made out of bamboo and leaves that sell fruits, munchies, cucumbers, lemon soda and raw mango with ground chilli powder and salt. There are restaurants too that serve proper meals as well as Continental and Chinese cuisine.

3. Have a beer:-

 Tired of the summer heat and if you want to chill. Head to Elephanta Port restaurant which is at the beginning of the steps that lead to the caves. The menu is pretty decent and pricing is affordable.  Make sure to get a beer and relax after you’re done visiting the caves to avoid lethargy and turn it into a drinking day.

4. Toy Train Ride:-

Once you get off the ferry, the caves are about a 10-minute walk. The path is covered by the sea on both sides. Among this path, MTDC has launched a toy train which is priced at Rs. 10/- one way. The toy train ride is barely a 5-minute thing and is a fun ride.

5. Try the local thali and the Indian burger:-

The local cuisine consists of Maharashtrian food and their local thalis are wholesome and homely. If you’re a non-vegetarian, do not forget to try their fish thali. Being a village on the coastline and fishing as an occupation, the fish are fresh and not overly priced. Also the Indian burger, basically vada pav is a quick and tasty snack.

6. Geode shopping:-

Geode in layman’s term is a hollow rock with sparkling crystals inside. These rocks are formed due to chemical precipitation and are said to have healing powers. Geode’s are good as showpieces and as a travel souvenir, also an interesting option for a gift.

7. Shopping:-

Earnings, necklaces, hippie bracelets, wooden artifacts, showpieces, silk paintings, key chains, Buddha statues are among a few things that will attract you. If you are a shopaholic, carry enough cash as cards are not accepted. Be sure to bargain hard as the prices are inflated.

8. Lake and garden:-

The lesser-explored part of the Elephanta island is the lake and the garden next to it. Usually ignored, people head directly to the caves and go back to the ferry once the caves are done. Instead of heading to the caves directly, take the left before the caves fee entrance, there is a proper concrete path with lots of tree on both sides and has a  lake signboard. This place is barely explored by travellers and is serene and tranquil. Walk along the bridge over the lake and chill there. It is a good sight for bird watching.

9. Elephanta caves:-

Also known as Gharapuri, it derives its name from a massive stone image of an elephant. Elephanta comprises of a total of seven caves. Out of which cave no.1 is exclusively carved with various manifestations of Lord Shiva. It is this same cave that famous masterpiece of Maheshamurti of Shiva depicting the three aspects of creation, protection and destruction. The other caves are plain and lesser embellished. This site was declared as Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987.

10. Picnic at the rock temple:-

 If you want to avoid outside junk food and enjoy home-cooked food, pack up your lunch boxes, and sit under the spacious gazebo and enjoy a picnic like scene. Relax and enjoy the sea breeze with a view of the ancient caves.

Catch that ferry and explore the island of Elephanta for yourself as there are many weekends ahead.

Text & Photography – Vijaya Nair

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