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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

Bidding Goodbye to Ganesha

The city bid farewell to the elephant - headed lord after 10 days of celebrations, the air reverberating with chants of “Ganpati Bappa Morya! Pudchya Varshi Lavkar Yaa!” (Long live the lord….. come soon next year!)

I remember when I was a kid, my uncle used to take me to the lake at Thane where the local idols would be immersed, and I would be thrilled to see all those beautiful and imaginatively sculpted Ganeshas being sent on their way to heaven. With childhood went almost all the enthusiasm, and today, I am content to sit at home and watch the Ganeshas on their way to Shivaji Park or Chowpatty on TV. This year, luck intervened in the form of my husband, who (uncharacteristically, I may add…) called me up and asked me to join him at Sion for a movie – Quick Gun Murugan!!!!

So there we were, rushing towards Sion, watching all those beautiful idols go their way. We were in a hurry and the traffic was well regulated for once, thanks to which we were able to speed past the many idols on the road. Here are the few Ganeshas I was able to photograph……..

This was the first one we saw…. And the boys were thrilled to see me photograph their idol!

Here is one of those Shiva – Ganpatis…. Looks like Shiva was the flavour of the season – we saw no less than 5 such Ganpatis on the road within half an hour…..

We then glimpsed this huge Ganesha in the traffic ahead…….

Here’s the front view…

Here’s another…… with all the revelers dressed in white…. They even had a band and a huge crowd dancing enthusiastically, but as I was trying to get a pic, the traffic moved, and my camera shook…you missed a good one…

Here are some smaller ones, Ganeshas kept at home…….. and these have some of the most enthusiastic of followers…. It is, after all, their own, one they invite with affection and care for the next 10 days with not just belief and faith in him, but real devotion and love.

And finally, here is one of the pandals put up for aiding the devotees… where a crowd has gathered to celebrate and see off the lord……. This is right next to a busy junction, and everyone is having a blast….. Traffic moves smoothly and everyone is happy……

This brings one of the most celebrated festivals in Bombay to a close. Next up is navaratri, but though it is celebrated all over by different communities in different ways, it pales in comparison to Ganeshotsav, which brings together people of all castes and creeds, religions and sects…… Lord Ganesha surely epitomizes the city of Bombay and its myriad shades…..

P.S. About the movie, it is rubbish, but it has its entertaining moments…. The actors are all great, especially Nasser, and I enjoyed some of the dialogues – especially the idea of Tamil interspersed with English…… ridiculous for most part, but then, it is meant to be so.

(pic from the internet)


  1. I liked the smaller one a lot. And there is a very beautiful one at BBC-

  2. Hello!Very nice all these photos!



  3. Hey! About the Chheda Nagar one, Sriram had a very interesting observation, "How come the elephant-god is riding an elephant?" and abt the Shiva styled one, "Why are they incorporating genes that he doesn't have?" proving that for all his atheism he does knows the tale of Ganesha's birth. I asked him to not be such a spoil-sport and let the bhakts have some fun.

  4. :( Seeing beautiful ganesha go in water is depressing for me :( and the next day body parts of our favourite god everywhere in the beach :((

    But you have writtern they are sent to heaven, instead of immersed in water - thats good :)

    Thats a nice writeup :) as usual and thanks for the snaps :)

  5. Mridula: yes, the smaller ones are actually more interestingly and beautifully made.... next year, shall try to look out for more... and the bbc pic was great.... i have never been to chowpatty for immersion, though.. too crowded for me!

    Irina: thanks a lot!

    Usha: so Sriram does know his mythology... good, so we have a topic for the next time we meet,...

    Srivats: yes, it is a sad sight indeed... wish more people would take the initiative and change to eco-friendly idols.... and it is not the sea which is so bad.. it is those many smaller lakes where the situation is worse.... but then, all said and done, religion is all about faith, right?

  6. Even though belated, I wish you a Happy Ganesh Chaturdashi :)

    Marriage and Swine Flu ;-)

  7. Once again some lovely photos of bidding farewell to our favourite lord...hope you had wonderful Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations!

  8. I am here first time on your blog. And it was nice reading about Gampu festival in Mumbai. Bangalore too is filled with Gampu lovers and all the places around the lakes will be jam packed with idols of all shapes and colours. :-) A lot of folks feel sad to drown the Lord and shed tears when they are immersing him.


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