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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

Pattadakal - Getting Started with the Temple tour

Our trip to Pattadakal was a hurried one, and we had time only to visit some of the main temples. Come along with me as I go over the same path once more..... We started at the northern end of the temple complex, and this was the board which greeted us...

The Kadasiddheshwara Temple is the first temple we come to, and it is believed to have been built in the middle of the seventh century.

The temple is quite a simple structure, with the front mandapa having a flat, closed roof and no pillars.

The ornate doorway is flanked by the Dwarapalakas - or gatekeepers...

But there is a wealth of detail even in this 'simple' temple... just take a look!


Detail on the shikara 

Window-holes or works of art?

The main sanctum -  Atop the doorway, at the centre is Shiva with Parvati,
on the left is Vishnu and on the right is Brahma!

The second temple is the Jambulinga temple, which is almost exactly the same as the first one....

The Galaganatha Temple is the third one, and it must have been a much bigger temple when it was built around the year 750AD.

Built on a raised platform, the imposing shikara stands tall even today, while part of the outer walls have succumbed to weather, disuse and neglect. 

The doorway to the sanctum has this beautiful figure of a dancing Shiva

I wonder which figure once stood here. must have been a form of Shiva, for the Ganas are depicted at the bottom!
There is a beautiful figure of Shiva slaying Andhakasura in this temple, but though I remember seeing it, it seems to be missing among my pics :( All the pics I took inside the temple seem to be missing! Meanwhile, here are the few which I do have.... such as this intricate detailing of a kalsam.....

These pillars are probably part of the original temple, and they are lying around while the ASI tries to put them together... Meanwhile, we are able to take a closer look at the beautiful work....

and we are also able to get an idea of how the artisans managed to put such a beautiful temple together! See the way the stone has been cut? These will fit perfectly into another section! And to think, all this was done completely by handheld tools, bereft of any machines! 

This section shows us how the stones have been fixed on to each other.... Our guide seemed an enthusiastic person, and he told us all the technical terms for these things, but its been almost a year since I returned, and unfortunately, the technical terms elude me. So please make do with just admiring the beauty and the resourcefulness of these talented architects and craftsmen!

A beautiful piece of work... wonder where it fit originally!

This was once part of the ceiling. Today, it lies on the ground...

With so many stones lying around, how could he resist clambering up a couple?
If you have managed to come this far, and are wondering how many more photos I am going to subject you to, well, let me tell you that this is just the beginning! These are just the first three temples in the complex, and are among the simpler ones! There is lots more to come, so look out for my next post!!!

Pattadakal  Quick Facts
Getting there:
Nearest Airport: Hubli (about  120 Km )
Nearest Railway Station: Badami (29 Km)
Pattadakal is well connected by road to Badami (29 Km) and Aihole (24 Km).
Where to stay: There is practically no accommodation available at Pattadakal. The nearest city is Badami, where the KSRTC Mayura Chalukya is the best option. There are also other hotels and lodges in Badami. 

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  1. Looks like you went at the golden hour, the pictures have a very nice glow.

  2. Loved the little imp on the wall! The temples have sadly gone the same way as others -- look at the defacement and neglect, despite being such a treasure trove of art. As for the missing pics, looks like it was done by divine intent as one is not supposed to take pics inside the sanctum sanctorum!

  3. A great site to visit to learn more about temple architecture

  4. S is looking so grown up, and semma pose:))
    lovely to see the world through your eyes...Thanks

  5. Lovely post and great shots. Would love to visit this place sometime.

  6.  Enjoyed the post. Waiting for the next one.

  7. It was so hot, Mridula! we spent almost the whole afternoon roaming around these temples!

  8. Apparently, these temples were completely forgotten until they were discovered by some British explorer! and thanks to the UNESCO world heritage site status, it is just now that it is being taken care of! its a pity, but thats how it seems to be everywhere I go! as for divine intent, ha ha! i have taken so many snaps of the other sanctums! only this one seems to have gotten the axe!

  9. Oh absolutely!!! in fact, there were so many art and architecture students there, taking notes and drawing the temples!

  10. grown up! he is going to be thrilled when he sees this comment!! as for pose, well, this is one of the last pics with such a cute pose! these days, its all 'salman khan' style!

  11. you should def go! would love to see the place again thru ur lens!

  12. Thanks a lot, PNS! theres lot more coming up!

  13. Nice pics of the temple.  But where is Pattadkal??

  14. Sorry Abha! forgot to add the 'quick facts' at the foot of the post! pattadakal is in karnataka, near Badami.. we went there from hampi.. have added the details now

  15. Enjoyed the photo tour. Was unaware of the existence of these temples. Yes there is an amalgamation of East & South Temple architecture. The temples are small but the ornamentation is superb & sculptures are marvelous.  And you have furnished such detailed information. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Thanks a lot! most ppl are unware of these temples, unfortunately!

  17. Good looking blog with nice and interesting information. I always keep in touch with your blog and going to bookmark also.


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