The proposal for an 8-km Mumbai-Elephanta ropeway means reaching the destination in an unbelievable 14 minutes. Imagine the cut in travel time; at present, a one-way ferry ride from Gateway of India takes close to an hour to reach the UNESCO world heritage site of Elephanta Caves in Gharapuri island.

Work is expected to start by September 2019 and wind up by October 2022. In four years, the proposed ropeway will be ready – the first such across the sea in the country. It will not only make commuting faster but also boost tourism in a big way. The initial plan was to start a 30-seater cable car from Sewri but the idea got scrapped because that would have disturbed the migratory flamingos.

The landing terminal of the ropeway will be constructed on Haji Bunder to also avoid disturbing the Mumbai-Trans Harbour Link.  Nearly 10,000 square meters of land is being set aside for the terminal’s construction.

Elephanta caves have the evidence of settlement from 2nd Century BC, but the temples are believed to have been built around 5th-6th Century AD. The 16-sq km island has several archaeological ruins, including the famous rock-cut temples. Over 10 lakh travellers visit the attraction every year. The island was finally connected to the electric grid in February this year; 70 years after power lines were reportedly torn down at the end of British rule. Besides the temples, the island’s key attraction is the two-day Elephanta Cultural Festival, that has been happening every February for nearly 30 years.

The Mumbai Port Trust is waiting to get all the statutory clearances by August 2019, after which the work is going to start full-force.