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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

Temple Procession

Yesterday was Kumara Sasthi, a day special for Lord Karthikeya, who is also known as Kumara, Muruga or Subramanya. 

Muruga at Enkann Temple near Thiruvarur

Among the legends of Karthikeya is the story of how he, as a child, asked Lord Brahma the meaning of the word 'Om'. Brahma, affronted at the idea of such a question from a small child, ignored him. The young Subramanya imprisoned the creator, and creation came to a stand still. The Gods were aghast, and searched for the cause, which led them to the abode of Shiva. Shiva reprimanded Muruga, and asked him to release Brahma at once. Muruga refused, explaining that Brahma did not know the meaning of the word Om, and thus did not deserve to be the creator. Shiva was stunned, and asked the child if he knew the meaning himself. Muruga replied that he did know, but if Shiva wanted him to explain, he would have to take the place of a student, and give him (Muruga) the place of a teacher. Shiva agreed, and Muruga explained to him, the meaning of Om. Shiva and Brahma humbly accepted that the child was right, and blessed him. This legend is associated with the temple at Swamimalai, near Thanjavur, and is the story I grew up hearing. 

However, there is another version of the same story, one where Brahma is imprisoned, and then released at the instigation of the Gods. However, Muruga has to pay a price for imprisoning the creator. He is transformed into a snake, and disappears from Kailas. Parvati is upset at her son's disappearance, and prays for her son to be restored to his former glory. After weeks of dedicated prayers, her efforts bear fruit and Muruga appears before her in the form of a snake. The other gods appear too, invoked by the power of Parvati's prayer, and in front of them all, Muruga is restored to his original form. This story is associated with the temple of Kukke Subramanya near Mangalore, and this day is celebrated as Kumara Sashthi with great pomp and splendor. 

Next door to our house is a temple managed by the Kukke Subramanya Mutt, and every year, this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The celebrations begin almost a week in advance, but for 3 whole days (including the days before and after Kumara Sashti) we wake up to the sound of Panchavadhyams and go to bed amidst the clanging of the temple bells! Year before last, I had posted about the Lord taking a tour of our colony during the Kumara Sashti procession, and today, I bring you a video of the procession as well as a few photos....

Firecrackers lit up the night!

These were certainly the highlight of the procession!


More posing.....

And some more!


  1. It looks so very colorful and Smahith must have had a good time.

  2. Delightful festival, loved it! Many Thanks for sharing.

  3. Samhit's last pose is wonderful with bent legs and hand resting on his waist. A year ago I too did cover Swami Malai in my Hindi blog with the story.

  4. An exciting and beautiful festival. I enjoyed reading the stories. Great pictures and video.

  5. oh yes! he was out for the whole procession! i just went to click pics towards the end!

  6. He will be thrilled to hear that! is always posing for the camera these days!! yes, i remember reading about Swami malai on your blog.. it s a nice temple... we had been there almost 4 yrs back!

  7. It is nice to live near temples that celebrate these important days in the calendar. You are lucky that way. I guess Samhit wants his signature in all your posts :) Nice shot that!

  8. Your blog provides a fresh look at the subject. Nice pictures.

  9. Nice post. remember last year's post too. Kukke Subramanya temple I could not visit.and came to know the legend thru' your  post only. thanks.

  10. Its nice indeed to live amidst these celebrations, but it feels even worse when we miss so many celebrations simply because the temple is so near and we are caught up in other things and unable to visit! and as for samhith, well, he manages to get seen everywhere!!!

  11. Thanks chitra! i didnt know about this earlier either! came to know abt it from the temple only!


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