Departing from the Gateway of India, travel by motor launch nine nautical miles across Mumbai Harbour to the lush green Gharapuri Island. The island resembles twin hillocks rising from the sea, with the caves located halfway up the higher of the two. Carved out of solid basalt rock, the caves represent Mount Kailash, the heavenly mountain residence of Lord Shiva. Enjoy a transfer to the base of the Elephanta Hill, and then climb the stepped path to the caves. Explore the exceptional 7th-century rock-cut temples of Elephanta Caves. This splendid cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, grand halls and porticos, filled with exquisite stone sculptures and reliefs of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Once known as Gharapuri, or the Fortress City, the Portuguese renamed the island Elephanta after discovering a large stone elephant statue near the shore. At the entrance to the caves is the famous Trimurti, or the celebrated trinity of Elephanta: Lord Brahma, the Creator; Lord Vishnu, the preserver; and Lord Shiva, the Destroyer. Unfortunately, many of the sculptures inside were damaged by the Portuguese who took potshots at the Hindu Gods with their rifles, but the sublime beauty of the caves remains. The site resonates with the spiritual energy of India, and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987. Following your visit, proceed downhill to the tram. Your boat will be waiting for your trip back to Mumbai.
Please note: This tour entails a short walk up numerous steps. A limited number of palanquins or sedan chairs are available at Elephanta Island, but their use is in no way encouraged or sanctioned by Oceania Cruises. Rubber-soled shoes are recommended.