Elephanta CavesSet sail from Mumbai for one of Chelsea's favorite experiences from her trip. "Take the hour-and-a-half ferry ride to the Elephanta Caves, west of the city. You can shop for spices and bangle sets on the carts in Gharapuri, the village at the ferry port, then walk up the 200 or so steps to explore the caverns where Shiva and other Hindu gods and goddesses are carved into stone."
The rock-cut temples of Elephanta Island, located 10 kilometers (six miles) east of Mumbai, are a marvel. Constructed around the 8th to 9th century C.E., this UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of a labyrinth of huge chambers sculpted out of solid rock. Inside are magnificent stone carvings, including a six-meter-high (20-foot-high) statue of Trimurti, a three-headed image of the Hindu god Shiva. Catch a morning ferry from the Gateway of India—it takes about an hour—and wear comfortable shoes.
300-Year-Old Hindu Caves and Carvings
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.