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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

Another Quick Trip to Shirdi

Going to Shirdi has almost become a routine trip for us, especially when my sister-in-law comes over. Thanks to her and her husband, I get to go there at least once a year. This year, as usual, it was a on-the-spur-of-the-moment-decision, and off we went, with a car hired at the last moment, just waiting long enough for Samhith to return home from school. We started at around 4:30PM, and without halting anywhere enroute, reached Shirdi at around 9:45PM. 

Every trip to Shirdi however has something unique and interesting to offer, and this time, it was the sight of people walking to Shirdi. For those of you to whom this is news, well, people do walk from Mumbai to Shirdi all the time, but especially for the Ram Navami Festival. They walk over a period of 6 to 7 days, halting at various places in the afternoons when it is too hot to walk, and at night when they need the much needed rest. They travel with an entourage, a tempo for their luggage, one for their food, and led by a Palkhi - a Palanquin carrying an image of Baba. While 4 people usually carry the palanquin, these days, there are grander ones carried in tempos too. There are people carrying flags and other decorations, and it is usually a grand sight! We know about this since Shankar and his uncle have actually done this, and say that its a wonderful experience. Anyway, getting back to the topic, it is quite normal these days to see a few people walking to Shirdi at other times too, especially as winter sets in and it becomes easier to walk, but what was surprising this time was the number of people walking. We saw no less than 18 palkhis on the way, and more which had stopped by the dharamshalas on the roadside as darkness set in. This was one trip when we had no trouble keeping Samhith occupied.... He was busy counting the number  of palkhis we passed!!!

I wanted to stop and take some photos, but the suggestion was vetoed by the others, who wanted to reach Shirdi as fast as possible. It turned out to be a good decision, since we had the best darshan EVER!!!!! We reached at 9:45PM and thought of trying to get in for the last aarti of the day, but there was a queue for that, and instead, the security guards encouraged us to go for darshan directly, since there wasn't much crowd. This turned to be an understatement, for there was absolutely NO crowd, and we rushed by the inner rooms and directly into the Samadhi mandir in a matter of minutes! There were a bunch of people there, but that was about all, and we peacefully made our way to the Samadhi without any pushing or shoving, and actually stood there for almost 15-20 minutes. Only then did a security guard ask us to move, for it was time for the aarti crowd to be let in!

By the time we came out and went to our room, we were sated and so satisfied that we didnt even go to the temple the next day, instead we drove to Shani Shingnapur and then turned back towards home, stopping for a while at the temple of Ranjangaon Mahaganapathy (one of the Ashta Vinayak temples)! We were back home before evening, less than 24 hours after we left! It was certainly the quickest Shirdi trip I have ever made, but more importantly, the best one ever!!!

Since we had time in the morning, I wandered around for a while outside, buying a few things, and for the very first time, managed to get some pics! Here they are.....

The temple....

Garlands for the Lord....

Dwaraka Mai - where the Lord lived...

Another abode of His...the Chavadi

Flowers for the Lord...

His Many forms....

Pedhas - sweets for offering the Lord

Hanuman - to protect devotees....

Garlands of Rose....made of plastic!

More forms...

Raisins....a  specialty here...

And finally, a special moment shared... between an aunt and her nephew.... After all, this is why we travel, right? To spend time together, to strengthen the bonds which bind us together?


  1. Nice account Anu. The photos give a feeling of being there. Pilgrims walking has been a long followed tradition. There are people walking from far off places to Tirupathi. I have seen huge number of people walking with Kavadi to Murugan Shrines like Tiruttani and Palani. But procession of Phalkis will be a sight to behold, I am sure.

  2. Anu, very nice photos . The spire is very beautiful.Now it is season for Padayatras. here,Palani temple kavadis have started.As Dindigul is near by this is a regular sight.

    And the way your trip happened. I think the 'Bulawahh' came for you. Nice one.

  3. The aunt and nephew both make a pretty picture.

  4. Well written Anu...was a great read indeed :) convey my regards to our aunt(y) and her nephew...
    (I am sure I am gonna get thrashed for this...hehe)

  5. I am going to Shirdi this month. I am told it is crowded. This post will be of use for me.

  6. you do a lot of piligrimages! the flowers pic is very pretty

  7. @Sridharan: Thanks... these days more and more people seem to be going on padayatras.. I have seen palkhis here often passing by our house, but this is the first time we have seen so many at one time!

    @Aswathi Babu: thanks a lot!

    @Chitra: yes. i guess with the onset of winter, the padayatra season has begun!thanks a lot, and i do believe that unless He calls, we can never go to any temple...

    @Mridula: aunt and nephew make for great pics! i enjoy clicking them!

    @Hari: thanks... but i hope aunt doesnt read this.. otherwise u will surely get it from her!

    @Rajesh: It is certainly crowded... try to pick the night for darshan or take those passes i mentioned in an earlier post...

    @Sneo: thanks.. yes, i do get to do a lot of pilgrimages, considering i live in a joint family and visit a lot of temples with my in-laws.. plus i like temples too!

  8. Beautiful... Feeling nostalgic... You have captured the padyatra well, never mind getting out of the car to take a pic!! I too had noticed them but could not take their pics!!

  9. The last photograph is easily the best.
    Love travelling the country with you.

  10. Very Nice pics Anu . I really like all of your posts. its interesting and gives a feeling of being there :)

    Shirdi Tour Guide

  11. Hey Anu,

    Nice pics and vivid description. I am a regular to Shirdi too and find it really nice when I am there. Thanks for sharing. I too write blogs, especially on travel and focus on how to travel within a shoe string budget. I have a post on my travelt o Shirdi. Will appreciate if you can allow it in your comments section.


  12. Hotels Sai Vishwa is counted amongst the best hotels in shirdi . Being a tourist and devotee spot, Shirdi attracts many visitors. To maintain the competition it is not only necessary to provide good service but also service at a reasonable rate.Check out the budget hotels in shirdi , and you will find that our rate is not high but we are amongst the best hotels in shirdi in terms of service and satisfaction. We also take care of your accessibility and we are situated very near to the Sai Baba Temple. Amongst multiple hotels near Sai Baba temple, this is one of the best hotels that can be found amongst the many Hotels in Shirdi


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