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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

Navaratri Experiences-2

The 30th was officially the first day of Navaratri, and wherever I went, I could see people bringing home the Devi. It signals the beginning of a hectic week, where we have to carry out our normal routines, while making time for prayers and Parayanams, attending Bhajans in the colony, and also finding time to visit the temple. Things were further complicated with Samhith’s classes, as well as my sister’s birthday. I had to have a quick darshan at the temple before rushing off to Thane to wish my sister.

The decoration at the temple depicted the Devi as LALITAMBIKAI, at the Thirumeeyachur temple, near Kumbakonam. This temple is about 13 Kms from Mayiladudurai, on the Mayiladudurai- Thiruvarur road, and is home to 2 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams (i.e. 2 songs sung by the saints). The main deities here are Aruneswarar and Lalitambikai, who were worshipped by Surya the Sun God at this place. The Lalita Sahasranamam is said to have originated here from the Devi herself, and hence this is considered one of the holiest temples in this area.

From Miscellaneous

Thanks to my visit to my mother’s place at Thane, I can share photos of a beautiful ‘Bommai Kolu’ with all of you.

The kolu is an elaborate affair at my mother’s place, and you can see that the whole room is covered with toys made of mud. To begin with, here are the traditional five steps……..

From Miscellaneous

The top step (the fifth) is dedicated to the Devi in her various forms. At the outset, I must inform all readers that this is not the traditional way of distributing the images on the steps. In our house, it is simply an attempt to classify the idols we have and fit them on the shelves.

From Miscellaneous
The fourth step has the main Kalasam, accompanied by the images of Men and Women made of wood, Over the years, my mother and aunt have collected enough such wooden dolls to fill a step by themselves. They put in a lot of time and effort to clothe and decorate these dolls, and the results are there for all of you to see and enjoy

From Miscellaneous
.The third step is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his various forms- the central idols are of Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati and his consort Padmavati. All the other idols are of His various incarnations, and the smaller idols in the front depict the Dasavatharam.

From Miscellaneous
On the second step is the family of Lord Shiva- the central idol is one of Dakshinamoorthy. He is accompanied by images of Shiva and Parvati on the Rishabha Vahanam, and also images of His sons- Ganesha and Karthikeya. There is also an idol of Shirdi Sai Baba.
From Miscellaneous

The first step has small images of gods and goddesses, mainly Ganesha and Gowri.
From Miscellaneous

Due to lack of place on the steps, other idols have been placed all over the room – this table has been covered with images of Krishna - as a cowherd, with the gopikas, and even killing Kamsa.

From Miscellaneous

This shelf is coved with the Chettiar Bommais – the grocers and merchants, with vessels and all kind of grains.

From Miscellaneous

This one is of a snake-charmer……..

From Miscellaneous

And this one is of a king of Thanjavur - Manu Neethi Chozhan, who was famed for his justice, and who made the right judgement for anyone who rang the bell outside his palace. When his son ran over a calf while riding his chariot, the cow came and rang the bell asking for justice. The righteous king judged that his son should be run over the same way in order to atone for his deed. The Gods, who had tried to test him this way, were pleased, and returned his son alive, as well as gave him a place in Heaven.

From Miscellaneous

And finally, this one is of a group of musicians and performers.

From Miscellaneous

With this I can call an end to the first day of Navaratri. Lets wait and watch what the forthcoming days bring.........


  1. What an eloborate Golu, Golu is very well celebrate festivities at my place, Feeling very much nostalgic hehe :) and U have shiradi sai baba!


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