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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

A jungle crow in my backyard

Every day, we put out food for the crows and other birds before we begin eating. This has become so much of a habit that the minute we hear a crow sitting and cawing outside our window, Samhith says, "Mamma, haven't you given the crow its food today?"

The crows themselves are bullies and extremely choosy. Not only don't they allow any other birds anywhere near the food till they have their fill, but they don't eat all thats kept for them. Samhith is sometimes less of a problem! For one, the crows want Curd Rice all the time! If there is no curd rice someday, they make so much of a racket that sometimes we talk to them the way we talk to Samhith, and try to explain that we are sorry, but there is no curd rice at present, but we shall give them as soon as we cook! Thank Goodness we have no neighbours on that side, so there are no curious witnesses to this exchange.... otherwise, we would surely be classified as 'weirdos'!  The crows then have to be pacified with rice or something else, or they just keep tapping on the window panes till we do so!!

Now, with such a relationship with the local crows, we have, off late, started noticing individual crows... the one with the high forehead... the one with a short beak.. one with a torn wing...... etc.... you get my drift...

Well, sometime back, we had another visitor - a jungle crow. To those who wonder what I am talking about, apparently, there are two types of crows - the house crow and the jungle crow. While the former have a slightly grey coloured head/neck, the jungle ones are all jet black, all over. This information is thanks to a few birding enthusiasts I know, and also thanks to Salim Ali's bird guide. Well, getting on with the story, I tried to take a photograph of the crow, so that I could confirm this, but was unable to. There seemed to be a number of them around, but just one which came to eat on our window sill. At least, only one at a time.... the house crows converge on our window in a group - sometimes as many as 10 of them!

Yesterday, I was surprised to see our jungle visitor again, this time alone. He seemed unaccompanied by his friends, and after tasting the curd rice we had kept, he simply went to sit on a nearby branch, giving me ample opportunity to take pictures. So, here is the result of my efforts. Well, I did take many photographs, but only this one turned out to be reasonably good enough to be posted.

I hope I have been correct in my identification. All you birding enthusiasts out there, please confirm. And can anyone explain what a jungle crow is doing in the middle of the city??????


  1. No idea Anu, I am also an amateur

  2. Actually growing up in Subarban Chennai...I am used to seeing many Jungle crows around our house and neighborhood...i didnt realise they are a rarity...
    But I have failed to observe their population of late..I will go back and see whether we still do get them...
    its the simple/small things that make a difference...simple observations

  3. Nice.. we get a mix of these with the regular crows at home almost daily !!

    In tamil, they are called Andang kaka[dark crow]

  4. Kerala has plenty of this and for Sraddha ceremony it is expected that this crow will come and eat the rice first.

  5. @Mridula: no problem.... we are all learning through our blogs :)

    @ssstoryteller: i didnt know there were so many in chennai...i have never spent much time there.....

    @Aarti: yes, my mom-in-law calls them that too..... and she too says she has seen lots of them in the south, but never here...

    @Chitra: oh yes, we believe that too, and there is no lack of them... they just wait for us to put out the food, and its gone.. the problem is, they dont really seem to appreciate the til and rice that we keep for shrardham..... the minute we add the curd, tens of them come to eat!

  6. In Kerala we also use these birds as a catalyst for feeding our children. We will first put some rice for these crows and showing how the crow eats we will make the baby eat too.

  7. @subu: Oh yes, we have done that too... with all the birds which come to our house :)

  8. Hi Anu! I hope you don't mind such a late comment, but that is definitely not a pied crow (your common crow in India) but hard to say if it is a Jungle Crow or Carrion Crow. The easiest way to tell is the very large beak which makes it appear like a Raven, and if you think it was larger or smaller than other crows you see (Jungle Crows are a bit smaller). Jungle Crows also have almost blue feathers and are very shiny.

    You can learn more at


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