Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Elephanta Island…

...is just over six miles, by way of boat or ferry, from the Gateway of India.  It was given its present name by Portuguese explorers back in the 17th century because of a monolithic sculpture of an elephant that used to be at the entrance to the caves; I say ‘used to’ as this sculpture is no longer there.  The Portuguese apparently needed to bring it home as a souvenir, but ended up dropping it into the sea because their chains weren’t strong enough.  It has since been rescued and resides at the Dr. Bhau Daji lad Museum in Mumbai.  In ancient times the island was known as Gharapuri Island, meaning a place of caves.  There are a total of seven on the island, carved from solid basalt rock and have been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries.  Here are a few photographs of the three we went through.
Guides are available on the island for a fee, but not necessary.  Their rates are high, 2,500 Rs, but can be negotiated down as we found out.  You can also purchase a guide book from one of the numerous vendors on your way to the caves.  These vendors line both sides of the path leading up…a fairly long path including 120 steep steps…and sell a variety of souvenirs at inflated prices, so expect to bargain.  I paid a price of 800 Rs for two ankle bracelets from a woman who wanted 1,500 Rs for just one.

In addition to the amazing caves and shopping experience, you’ll get an upfront view of the local wildlife.  Just don’t try to touch them and be careful with any food you have; they are quite the opportunists.
In addition to everything we learned that day, we found out that paying a little extra for a ‘luxury boat’ with an upper deck and a nice breeze doesn't mean you'll get back any sooner...
...making a long day, longer; but not any less fun.  


(So out of curiosity, how many of you spent more time looking at that third monkey picture than all the others combined?)

5 comments:

LceeL said...

Oh! Look!!! Monkeyballs.

Blondefabulous said...

LOL! That third monkey has it going on, doesn't he??

Were the boats over crowded?? We constantly hear about overcrowded ferries capsizing in the States.....

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Dude. That third monkey is HUNG! I guess we'll have to change the term to "Hung like a monkey."

Ahem.

I hated bargaining when I was in Egypt. I'm just not good at it and I feel uncomfortable doing it.

And caves?!? I'm jealous. Caves rock.

Sheila said...

I honestly did not notice until you pointed it out. Perv.

Nej said...

I'm a horrible price negotiator. I always feel strange and silly doing it.

That monkey picture is a train wreck...hard to look away from at first. (hehehehe)