Elephanta Caves Mumbai: Oct 2022 visitor info & experience - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Elephanta Caves Mumbai: Oct 2022 visitor info & experience

Elephanta Cave is a half day expedition off the coast of Mumbai from Colaba. Regular ferries take thousands of tourists everyday to Elephanta and back. On my previous Mumbai visits I couldn’t visit elephant due to time constraints. This time finally managed to visit. I wouldn’t say the island is a must visit at any cost but it turned out to be an OK OK experience.

This post has everything you need to know about planning your visit to Elephanta caves.

Cost of visiting Elephanta cave:

You begin by buying boat Ticket near Gateway of India. Earlier there was 120 INR ticket, but now operators are no longer selling this ticket. Same ticket is now sold at INR 260 per person, marked as deluxe. Very clever- same boat, same seat but now 2x the price. 

If you thought that is the cost of visiting Elephanta cave you’re mistaken. On the boat you need to pay 10 Rs extra to sit in upper deck, upon arrival, there is an option to pay 10 Rs and take a toy train ride for first 1 km, local gram panchayat has a ticket counter asking 5 INR per person and finally ASI has a ticket counter asking 40 INR per person. Instead of maintaining multiple ticket counters, staff and making visitors stand in queue 3-4 places, it would be better if all the money is collected in one spot- say 305 INR per person and then settled internally between boat operator, ASI and local panchayat. It will save time, would reduce staff expense and allow faster movement of tourists.

Mandatory Charges

Optional Extra

Boat charge: 260 per person

ASI Entry fee for caves:40 INR per person

(200 for foreigners)

Gram Panchayat Entry fee: INR 5 per person


Upper deck on the boat- 10 INR per trip= 20 INR

Toy train charges (1 km ride) = 10 INR

Guide charges= 800 INR (negotiable) per group

Shopping, food, cost of reaching Colaba extra at actuals.

Minimum 305 INR per person

Extra: INR 830 or more

Elephanta caves visitor information

I took the Thane-CST slow local from Kanjur Marg, got off at CST, got into A116 AC bus to Gateway of India for INR 6 and reached ticket counter in INR 16 Rs for 30+ kms. Went to buy a ticket from a seller who was roaming around- first guy asked 260 Rs so I got confused as I had read ticket price is 120 INR. Second guy said he has instructions not to sell single tickets and asked me to visit the counter. At the counter I was asked for ID proof and sold a deluxe ticket for 260 INR, which is the same boat, same seat as economy, just deluxe written on it. Great way to double the income without providing anything extra.

The Boat Ride

Had to wait in line for 15-20 minutes. I reached at 9.03, got my ticket at 9.10 but boats started only by 9.30-9.40 AM and not sooner- reportedly because they were parked far into ocean due to previous day’s heavy rain forecast and till 9 AM they didn’t know if they can operate today or not. Eventually got into the boat. The journey took almost an hour- could see Mumbai’s high-rises from ocean and few cargo/commercial ships parked in the middle of the ocean.

We could see several big ships parked in the ocean on our way to Elephanta

Boat ride lasts almost an hour. 10 Rs extra if you wish to sit in upper deck. A few boats may have a kitchen counter selling some tea/coffee/snacks.

Toy Train

Upon arrival, I had an option of walking or taking toy train. First I decided to walk thinking toy train will be expensive. But when I asked the ticket price was 10 RS return, so I decided to give it a try. Had to wait 5 mins for the train to start, the journey was barely a km long. If crowd is too much, I would suggest skip it and just walk.

After I got down from the train, had to walk a few hundred meters with shops on both sides. Local gram panchayat has set up a counter demanding 5 INR from each visitor. As I crossed this, a few guides came to me offering their services. Quoted price was 800 INR- they were willing to work for little less but I was not in a mood to spend, so ignored them.

As I walked uphill, probably some 500 steps, 1 km, I entered the cave complex, where ASI has setup a ticket counter. Charges are 40 INR per person. As I gave 200 INR, counter fellow gave back only 60 Rs and acted like nothing has happened. On reminding he gave back another 100 rupees. Be careful.

A service is available for elderly people- for a fee 4 men would carry you on a chair till top. Didn't ask for their fees.

The cave

The first cave is the most significant and has maximum sculptures. Many of these are ruined to various levels. The damages are deliberate- some sculptures head is chopped off, in some the bottom.

The other few caves had minimum sculptures or were largely empty. 

ASI has hired at least 15-20 security guards to manage Elephanta caves- it was interesting to observe them. A few of them were seen doubling as guides explaining the caves to tourists, a few are happy to help visitors take photographs in anticipation of tip, many would simply sit and relax under the tree. Most are not willing to answer any question- they would simply say hire a guide. Not sure why 15-20 people are needed to manage 4-5 caves. I guess to prevent lovers from carving on the rocks or to prevent people entering inner sanctums with their shoes and things like that.

The last cave- empty

Canons and Viewpoints

There are two canons on top of elephanta hill. One offers view of JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) and the other offers view of opposite side. Most people miss visiting the canon pointing JNPT- as it needs more walking.

Elephanta Cave Stay option

There is a hotel on top of elephanta cave- Hotel Chalukya managed by MTDC (Maharastra Tourism Development Corporation). You can stay overnight if you wish to. But I don't see much benefits of staying here as caves are closed after evening and there is not much to see/do. But if you want lots of private space, wanting to do some photoshoot without crowd etc then it might be good option to stay here. Their restaurant is decent- has good view and is priced just a bit more compared to private restaurants nearby

There is a residential colony inside elephanta caves- the shopkeepers, security guards and staff seem to be staying on the island with their family and not traveling in and out everyday from Mumbai mainland.

Elephanta Cave visitor info summary

  • Cost: Minimum 305 per person (boat + ASI fee + panchayat fee), extra if you hire guide, want to sit on upper deck, use toy train etc)
  • Time required: About 1 hour one way on boat, around 2 hours at the island- total 4 hours/half day, more at your discretion
  • Best time to visit: Exclude monsoon season, visit when sky is clear. Last boat by 3 PM from Appolo Bandar and last return boat by 6 PM. Best to visit early morning 9/10 AM and return by 2/3PM.
  • Places to visit: 4-5 caves, 2 cannon points, few viewpoints
  • Facilities available: Restaurants (pure veg, veg+ non veg), a hotel with stay option, multiple shops along the way, drinking water, toilets, food stalls, guide services, carrier servie for old people.

Other things to know

Boat ride to Elephanta cave is subject to weather being favorable. In case of rain, wind or thunderstorm forecast boat service will be suspended. Thus take a look at the weather report for the day you’re planning to visit Elephanta. If report is not favorable plan something else, otherwise you may end up going till Gateway of India and returning. During monsoon season the boats are much less likely to operate.

People were hesitant to sell single tickets. I was asked to go to the counter where I was asked about my origin city and ID proof. Maybe because they think singles go there to commit suicide? Not sure.

Toy train is better avoided if you see lots of people around. It is hardly 1 km ride- better to walk than wait 15-20 mins for train (you’ve to wait for next round if train is full). Refer pic below.

Lots of shopping opportunities, but didn’t see anything unique not available elsewhere- obviously these are sourced from mainland and sold for a margin. I would rather buy in city.

View of Mumbai - Taj hotel, gateway of India

Similar: 5 places in Mumbai not to miss * Kala ghoda art festival * Hotel Ibis Mumbai Vikhroli *


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