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The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan
Recent posts

Tanjore and Mysore Paintings at the CSMVS Mumbai

A chubby, naked, fair Krishna , holding a butter ball, covered in golden ornaments, Yashoda by his side, an indulgent smile on her face, even as her finger is raised in admonition. Rama and Sita seated on the throne, Lakshmana on one side, Bharata and Shatrughna on the other, surrounded by sages and kings; Rama a distinctive green in colour. These are both popular themes in Tanjore Art. I first saw both these in temples, the Navaneetha Krishna in many homes as well, if not original, at least a recent replica or just a copy. The Ramar Pattabhishekam I have better memories of, having seen it often at the Matunga Bhajan Samaj in Mumbai, as well as at my mother-in-law’s ancestral house in Thanjavur. The latter especially is close to our family’s heart, and it’s an exquisite piece of work, the expressions on Rama and Sita’s faces as intricately done as the gold work that surrounds them. Navaneetha Krishna Beautiful as they are , to me, they are associated with divinity more than just wor

Book Review: Warlord of Ayodhya - Rebellion , by Shatrujeet Nath

Ayodhya is synonymous with Rama , which is why it is a pleasure to read a book about Ayodhya, where there is no Ram. The events of “Warlord of Ayodhya” occur in the city, when Rama is in exile. It is Bharat who is at the centre of this story, an unwilling character forced to play the lead. While he rules the kingdom with his brother’s sandals on the throne’s footrest, and remembers his brother’s words of advice to him, it is his father he seeks to emulate as king. After all, it is his father who has ruled the kingdom all those years. While Rama is the prince, the rightful heir, it is still Dashrath who is the ideal king in Bharat’s eyes. It is these subtleties that make Shatrujeet Nath’s newest book a riveting read.

Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Ladakh Part 10: The Last Stretch - Mulbek to Srinagar

The spectacular landscapes of Ladakh continued to astound us as we continued on our way past Lamayuru.  Somewhere along the route, the Wakha river joined us, and along her canyon were stunning natural rock formations, which reminded me of the ancient temples of central India. This continued all the way to Mulbek , where we stopped to see the colossal Maitreya Buddha carved into the rock. We had seen many colossal statues of Maitreya in Ladakh. But this one is different. Those are made of clay and stucco. This one is carved into the rock, and is dated to the 9 th century CE. It is considered one of the finest such figures seen in the region.  The figure of Maitreya is carved on a huge boulder, standing in the middle of the village, right by the side of the road. He is shown with 4 hands, and richly adorned, holding a lotus stalk and rosary in his upper hands, the lower hands in varada mudra, and holding a kamandalu. There has been a lot of speculation regarding his identity, but t