The Elephanta Festival is a 2-3 day cultural extravaganza held in February / March every year.
The Elephanta Festival is organised by Maharashtra Tourism at the Elephanta Caves across Mumbai harbour. The festival is dedicated to classical music and dance forms of India and is a preferred destination for culture lovers.
Traditionally, visitors are welcomed and a folk dance performance by the local fishermen tribes starts off the festivities. The magnificent sculptures on the caves are truly a sight that cannot be overlooked. The ‘Maheshmurti’, deity of Lord Shiva, is the central sculpture and the core point of celebration, which is lit up at night and provides a perfect backdrop for the stage. The evening is filled with live music and folk dances and the festival serves as a platform for well-known dancers and musicians to showcase their talent. Apart from these fun-filled performances, there are a plenty of ethnic local delicacies that are served at the venue. The Elephanta Festival is worthy of keeping alive the heritage of Indian music, dance, and art!
Feast Of Dance And Music
The Elephanta festival is conducted to promote tourism and culture in Mumbai. It intends to commemorate the heritage of dance, art and sculpture in India. The festival welcomes performers from the whole country to participate in it, showcasing their dancing prowess. The venue of the festival, the renowned Elephanta Island, is a favoured destination for this festival. The Island, which was once the capital of a powerful kingdom, was later named as Elephanta by Portuguese after they found a monolithic statue of an elephant there. The island is also famous for the displays of rock carving of Lord Shiva which is beautifully exhibited on the walls of rock temples.
The highlight of the festival that started in 1989 is the illuminated Maheshmurti (Shiva idol) located in the main cave of the Elephanta Island. The idol is lit up at night, providing an amazing backdrop to the entire setting. Over the years, the festival has become a huge attraction for Mumbaites as well as for the domestic and foreign tourists. The temple also has huge pillars which intensify the whole festive ambiance. The cyclopean auditorium where the dances are performed is decorated with lights along with a decorated idol of lord Shiva. The festival, which starts with a warm welcome comprising of traditional tunes of the native fishermen folk, features performances of eminent artistes on an aesthetically erected stage. Wonderfully illuminated Maheshmurti cave, bright lights and delicious ethnic food make this festival a truly unforgettable experience.
The weeklong festival encompasses classical dances, plays, skits and instrumental and vocal recitals. Seats are arranged under open sky, making a perfect atmosphere for a cultural festival. Live music and folk dances occur in the evenings and the festival provides the perfect platform for musicians and dancers to display their talents. The festivities start with a folk dance from the local fishermen (Koli). You will also see India's leading artists enthral the audience on a marvellously decorated stage. At the Gateway of India, there is a Shehnai program during the festival.
How to reach the festival venue
The venue for the Elephanta Festival is the Elephanta Caves on the Gharapuri Island which is at a distance of 10kms from the Mumbai harbour.
Regular motor launch services operate from the dock, next to the Gateway of India, between 8am-3pm.