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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

More Birds from my garden

This Ganeshotsav, Ganeshas were not the only thing I had eyes for, much as all of you might think otherwise…… during these ten days, other visitors put in an appearance, and went so far as to allow me to click them. They might not be exotic and the pictures might not be great, but, still, we were thrilled to see them!

The first visitor is one I have seen often, though never when a camera was within reach. This time, he appeared right in front of my window, and sat there long enough for me to capture his memory on film (or rather, computer!) forever. This was the Greater Coucal or Crow pheasant, called Bharadvaj. Though it was right opposite my window, it was partly obscured by the leaves, and this is the best I could do in terms of photos.

It is considered lucky to see a Bharadvaj, and maybe this old superstition is true, for the very same day, I saw two more birds, and what’s more, was able to photograph them!

The first was a pond heron, standing still in the marsh near my house, and looked at me balefully as I took out my camera (incidentally, I was carrying the camera to take pics of Ganesha!), but did not fly away till I managed to get one good shot! I flatter myself thinking that this is a good photograph, but your opinions are invited!

The next was a bird I had never seen before. I glimpsed it twice before I could get a decent chance at photographing it. It was late evening, and in the dense foliage, this was the best I could do with my digital camera.

I have tried to improve this photo with the meager tools at my disposal, and here are the results. I would like to know your honest opinion on this photograph.

I think it is a female cuckoo or koel, but I am not too sure. Can somebody please confirm this for me??

Interestingly, after I had finished writing this post and saved it for publishing after Ganeshotsav, I got some more beautiful snaps of some birds which frequent our colony. They are all just the common ones, not very special, but they add their touch to the natural beauty we live in.

A couple of red-whiskered bulbuls…

Of these two pictures, which one do you like more? Please do let me know.........

An oriental Magpie Robin…

A Red- vented Bulbul….

A purple rumped Sunbird…

A parrot…

A White Breasted Water Hen…..

And finally, another Bharadvaj……this one was spotted by Samhith just yesterday, and he wanted me to make it clear to everyone reading this that it was he who saw it first……(Usha, this is for you.... he will surely ask you if you saw the bird that he noticed!)


  1. Your post was very educational. I just felt ashamed that the only bird I could identify was the parrot. I hope you can educate us about birds in more detail, their nesting habits, little details like that. That would help us to pass on the knowledge to our little ones.

    Fantastic post and great pics, do keep writing.

  2. What a haul! Difficult to imagine that this is Mumbai!

  3. Lovely collection of bird images Anu. That bird that you wanted id help is the Asian Koel Female.

  4. this Mumbai was my first reaction? You live in a great location Anu!!

    The one you have marked as Pond is an indian pond heron...though not able to identify male or female due to the plummage patterns...

    the one you have called "a parrot" is a rose-ringed parakreet - female. The male has the ring. I guess you would have noticed it.

    I am a fellow bird watcher and wildlife enthusiast and if I were to brush up on my knowledge of Indian birds...i would buy the book - Pocket Guide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Grimett. This has has the best color photo pallette that aids in identification.


  5. Swapna: Thanks... even my bird identification skills are in their nascent stages... just getting into birdwatching, that too, thanks to my son who loves them! shall definitely post more details soon.. have to read up first..

    Mridula : yes, even i had no idea bombay had so many birds!!!

    T&S : thanks...

    Sankara : Thanks a lot..... well, though we live in bbay, our area is on the salt pans and is a disputed area, which keeps the marshlands as they are, which brings us so many birds... actually, there are many more (or so I have heard) but have yet to see them! I have Salim Ali's book of Indian birds,and thanks to it am able to identify at least some of them....shall look for the book you recommend too.....

    my interest in birdwatching is quite recent, spurred on by my son who loves animals and birds... a restless soul, he is quiet only when he is near wildlife.. thanks to him, am reading up and keep looking out for birds..

  6. I know how you are able to spot so many birds :-)

    Keep it coming!


  7. I am a bird lover but cannot identify much of what you posted here :) I used to keep "kambu" and "nellu" water in a small cup on a small wooden plank outside the window gril for them. And the sparrows come everyday to eat, Its a nice sight to watch. Birds are very special and have to be safegaurded for our next generations to come.

    I like the first picture in the red-whiskered bulbuls set

    And the one you made out of meager tool is much better u can identify the bird with it.

    U do have eye for details and to appreciate the beauty of the nature. all pictures are good!

  8. First time here. posting comments though I have read some posts of yours. Did like the picture of the top pair of bulbuls. In fact some bulbuls had made a nest in my kitchen piling the exhaust fan hole with twigs ,the funny thing was it never got filled and as all was falling inside the kitchen and when i returned after a vacation i had a big shock. there was a mound of twigs on my gas stove . did get shock wondering what it was?

  9. Srivats: we leave out food for the crows, but all sorts of birds come to eat it... as to the crows, they are just too particular about what they eat..... can u believe it, they want curd rice all the time!!!!!

    thanks for the comments about the pics.. actually, am crazy about taking photos ever since i bought my digicam, and samhith is making me aware of so many things i can photograph!!!

    Chitra: welcome to my blogs....

    can imagine the shock you would have had! how did you manage to clear out all the rubbish????

  10. Wow! what a garden you have.Lucky you.

    Very ncie post, it is so difficult to take pictures of birds!

  11. Wow ! Lovely ! cant believe you live in that concrete jungle Mumbai and can still spot these beauties ! Best wishes.

  12. Nice post. The one you identified as female Koel is very correct. I am leaving for my home at Thrissur tomorrow and would watch the birds which frequent our garden.


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