Skip to main content

Featured Post

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

Hampi Part 2 - Stones do Speak - A Photo feature

This post was originally published on the Club Mahindra Blog. I am re-posting it here on the request of some of my regular readers.

The first thing that strikes you in Hampi is these huge boulders all over the place. They were everywhere, and we started recognizing the distinctive ones over the two days we spent wandering around, looking at what was left of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire. While I listened to our guide and stared at the ruins with awe, all I could think of was the story that these huge boulders could tell, if only they could speak…. But then again, maybe they do speak…

They speak of an age long gone by….

Path leading to the Vitthala temple, once part of a huge bazaar

How they came to be there, no one knows for certain. Mythology says they were thrown there by a mischievous god. Science tells us that they are the last remnants of a volcanic eruption…

A distinctive set of naturally piled up stones

No matter how they came to be there, they stand vigil, sole witnesses to the highs and lows of various dynasties who passed by….

Mahanavami Dibba - built to commemorate victories

They watched over as kings were born, as kings ruled and made their names, some for their valour, some for their wisdom, some for their greed….. Some found a way to tame these huge boulders, some as old as time……..

Mandaps, pillars and paving blocks - all made from the stones lying all over

And they endured, as men found a way to break them up, carve them and use them to build their empire…… They bore the chisels as they worked their way inside, splitting them into smaller pieces, easier to manipulate….

This is how these rocks were broken - wooden wedges were inserted
and then saturated with water, so that they became swollen and eventually broke the stone!

They still bear the marks…. Even as they stand tall, still bearing the weight thrust on them…

Marks of the wooden wedges still remain on the stones

They stand testimony to the kings’ foresight….. As water channels and aqueducts, capable of supplying water even today, five hundred years after they were made…

Aqueduct at the royal enclosure

The mouth (or should i say, spout) of one of the water channels

They stand testimony to the kings’ understanding of markets…. as huge areas set aside for commerce…

The bazaar opposite the Krishna temple

They stand testimony to the kings’ spirituality… in the form of huge temples….

The Virupaksha temple

But most of all, they stand testimony to the creativity of the artisans, who created works of art which the world would admire…

stone chariot at the Vitthala temple

They talk of Gods…..

The huge, monolithic Lakshmi Narasimha

And stories about them…

Stories of Krishna depicted on the pillars of the Vitthala Temple

They talk about the people who lived among them…..

Depictions of everyday life on the walls of the Mahanavami Dibba

They tell us about those who fought for their kings….

Depictions of the Orissa war on the Gopuram of the Krishna temple

They watched over as one king gave way, or was made to give way, for another…..

They watched as greed and envy ruled over everything else, and all the good work came to naught.
They watched as a bustling city was laid waste…… as it was abandoned…..

Remnants of palaces in the royal enclosure

They were the sole witnesses as nature re-claimed the land……. As trees grew over whatever was left …….and poor farmers replaced the rich merchants who once walked along the same path……

A mandap amidst trees

And then came those in search of the ancient ruins, and dug up the fields, exposing the stone floors below…. Bringing to light chambers which lay hidden under the earth….

An underground temple excavated from amidst the fields

People come from all over to world just to see them, and as I stand amidst them, I can’t help wondering if these huge boulders have a message for us….. Standing tall among all the ruins, are they telling us not to make the same mistakes as those before us? To live a peaceful life without greed or enmity, forgetting petty differences such as religion and languages, to live in peace and harmony, for as humans, our life is short. We will soon pass on, but these huge boulders shall remain witness to our lives too, and what we choose to make of it!


  1. thanks a lot have picked up a lot of your clicked pics for my sons project .


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Bhedaghat - Home of the 81 Yoginis

The Narmada flows down the mountains , carving out a path for herself as she makes her way down to the plains of Central India. She cascades from the rocks, her fine spray making it appear as if billows of smoke (dhuan) arise from the flowing streams of water (dhaar), giving it the name Dhuandhar. Dhuandhar Falls The force of her flow creates a gorge , smoothening and carving out the rocks into fantastic shapes, the pure white of the rocks standing starkly against the shades of the water. It is a joy to cruise down the river in a boat, seeing the natural contours created by the river, now famous as the Marble Rocks. We are at Bhedaghat, located on the banks of the Narmada near Jabalpur, where thousands of visitors turn up to see these natural landscapes, creations of the sacred Narmada, and pay obeisance to her. However, to me, the most interesting thing about Bhedaghat, isn’t the falls or the rocks, or even the river. What makes Bhedaghat special is t