miércoles, 4 de febrero de 2009

Elephanta Island - India

(also called Gharapuri Island or place of caves) is one of a number of islands in Mumbai Harbour, east of Mumbai, India. This island is a popular tourist destination for a day trip because of the island's cave temples, the Elephanta Caves, that have been carved out of rock.

The island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai, being about 10 km from the south east coast of the island city. Boats leave daily from the Gateway of India, taking about an hour each way for the journey. From the boat landing stage on the island, a walkway leads to steps that go up to the famous caves. Along the path, hawkers sell souvenirs that may bought at a reasonable price. There are also stalls to buy food and drinks.

Known in ancient times as Gharapuri, the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here near the entrance. They decided to take it home but ended up dropping it into the sea because their chains were not strong enough. Later, this sculpture was moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum (now Dr Bhau Daji lad Museum) in Mumbai, by the British.[1]

The island has an area of 16 km² (6 square miles). It is located at approximately 18°57′N 72°56′E / 18.95, 72.93. The area comes under the jurisdiction of the Raigad district in Maharashtra State.

A narrow gauge train takes tourists along the 1 km pier to the base of the steps that lead to the caves.

The island is thickly wooded with palm, mango, and tamarind trees. The island has a population of about 1,200 involved in growing rice, fishing, and repairing boats. It was once the capital of a powerful local kingdom.

There are total three villages viz; Shentbandar, Morabandar, and Rajbandar, of which Rajbandar is known to be the capital. Caves and Stalls can be seen in Shentbandar. Morabandar has thick forest.


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