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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 Special Get-Together on a Special Date...

The magic of numbers or the significance of dates has never held any fascination for me. As far as I am concerned, a date is special, not for the combination of digits, but the events which make it memorable. It was thus, not the date but the event and the location that attracted me – the Postcrossing Meet at the G.P.O. Mumbai on 11.11.2011!

Postcrossing is a site for Postcard and Philately enthusiasts, through which we send and receive postcards from across the world. I came across the site while searching for something interesting for Samhith to get into, but ended up becoming a postcard enthusiast instead! I joined the site almost a year ago, but it took me quite a while to get started, and my postcard collection is just picking up, as is my awareness about the different facets of postcard collection as well as philately. While I have grown up in a family of numismatists and philatelists, I had never been very keen on either till I began collecting to teach Samhith about coins and stamps. Joining Postcrossing was also an attempt to make him aware of our postal system, and we have now begun sending postcards to not just Postcrossing members, but to many friends as well! But above all, joining Postcrossing has helped me make so many new friends, especially through the Postcrossing India Page on Facebook! It was to meet these very people that I rushed out early in the morning of 11/11/2011 to participate in the annual Postcrossing Meet, in spite of the fact that I was tired and weary, having returned from a day long trip to Bhimashankar the day before!

The location was as much of a lure as the prospect of meeting fellow Postcrossers, for the General Post Office (GPO) at Mumbai is a beautiful building in itself, and certainly one of the best post offices to visit too! Unfortunately, photography is prohibited, and I could just manage a few clicks as we waited outside for a while…. The building, opened in 1913, is built in the Indo Saracenic style of architecture, and took about 9 years to build!


Incidentally, the Mumbai General Post Office is the second oldest in India – set up in the year 1794 (the oldest is the one at Calcutta, opened in 1774!) and today, this is the biggest Post Office in the country, catering to over 50,000 address sites, most of which are recipients of voluminous mail (information as per the Maharashtra  Post Website).

Inside, the building is a hub of activity – which always makes me want to take photos, but here, photography is a strict no-no! We all met at the philately section of the GPO and spent the first hour happily browsing through First Day Covers, new stamps issued, collectors’ sets, Max Cards, and of course, picture postcards issued by India Post! The last were easily the highlight of the trip, since they were inexpensive as well as beautiful, depicting stamps of different categories! Needless to say, all of returned with many of these!

The highlight of the meet was the special cancellation designed for the special date – 11/11/11. 

We all queued up with our envelopes and postcards stamped and addressed, waiting for our turn to get our stamps cancelled. The process itself was an interesting one, with the lady first placing the stamp set in a wooden holder on our stamp, and then hitting it with a mallet or hammer like thing, to make sure that the entire cancellation was clearly visible.

Soon, everyone was busy – addressing postcards, stamping them, writing messages, signing, and of course, getting them cancelled! And we weren’t the only ones. Members of the Philately Association were there too, as were numerous other individuals, most of them drawn by the special date!

One of our Postcrossing members had come prepared with handmade postcards to send out to friends, all decorated with the special date….

While some others were even more obsessed with the combination, making up special envelopes with stamps released on similar dates, tickets with the same digits in the timings or even banknotes with special serial numbers! While I can admire their enthusiasm as well as their resourcefulness, I can never see myself indulging in any such activity – a fact which made this meet all the more memorable. After all, where else would I meet such people?

Time flew past as we prepared the postcards to be sent off to other members as a memento of the meet, and before I knew it, it was time for me to leave. 

The others were not through, however, and the meet went on till late in the evening, members sharing their experiences as well as showing off their collections. Here are some more photos of the meet….

Busy signing postcards!

A collectible, but from another postoffice!

A pile of stamped postcards!!
It looked as if people were competing for the number of
postcards they were getting cancelled!!!!

Showing off each others' postcards!

All set to be on their way!

Another pile of postcards getting ready!

The meet continued on the day after too, for those who couldn’t make it on 11/11, but I wasn’t one of them. I hope someone else writes up about that meet too! Meanwhile, I am eagerly looking forward to our next meet-up. 


  1. That was a wonderful account of the meet! Thank you for bringing it on so vividly! Missed it this time. Hope to make it at the next meet!

  2. What a nice thing to do on a special date!

  3. Very interesting Anu. You described the whole event so well and the pics also told the entire story.

  4. Wow ! What a way to spend 11.11.11. I always knew that collecting stamps and photographs was special, but did not know how special. Loved your write-up :-)

  5. Thanks so much, Deepak! we missed u too...

  6. Thanks a lot, Sudha! i love collecting stamps, but never thought of special dates... but had so much fun this time!

  7. Ohh Dear Really ExlentYours Blog.....


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