When visiting Mumbai, a must-see is Elephanta Island. For just a few dollars, take a ferry from the Gateway of India to the island. The ferry ride takes about an hour and is an experience as well. Mumbai from the water is impressive.
Once you land on the island, hire a local, again for just a few dollars, to show you around the island and give you the history. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, these 4th century rock-cut stone caves are a tribute to Lord Shiva. Five shrines are carved out of solid basalt rock showing Shiva in various situations. They are really incredible and beautiful. Plan to spend a little time on the island walking about, watching the monkeys steal tourists water bottles and shopping the little stalls along the 150 stairs you need to climb to get from the ferry dock to the caves.
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Woman Returning Home With Water
Upon descending the endless flight of stairs, racing to catch the last boat back to Mumbai central, I had to stop and take a picture of this woman who was leisurely walking back up the steps. I found this strange until I realized that the island indeed had a handful of permanent residents. I wondered what it was like having the island overrun by tourists during the day and nearly empty at night. As I paused to notice her she turned around and asked me to take her picture. I snapped a few shots and then she smiled, turned and continued walking up the steps. With only a few minutes left until departure I had no choice but to keep running down to the departing boat.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a short ferry ride from Mumbai and the Gateway to India. Elephanta Island is famous for its caves, which were carved out of rock somewhere from the 6th to 8th century. The intricate interior carvings to depict religious scenes featuring the god Shiva.