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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
No matter which temple you go to, you see people like her.

I saw her outside the Somnath temple in Gujarat. She had two stalls - one selling prasad (offerings) to the Lord, and another selling images of the Lord... The threads tied to the string above her are also for sale. They are talismans believed to protect us from evil and troubles.

I clicked her while I was waiting for Shankar outside the temple, and in all the time I was there, she did not get a single customer.... she simply sat there in that same posture, seemingly not bothered about the lack of customers. The other vendors were busy, calling out, actually shouting into the ears of anyone who passed by..... encouraging them to buy things...promising instant salvation in the name of Lord Somnath, or as they put it 'jyotirlingji', but she stood out with her silence.... I clicked the pic on an impulse, and of course, a desire to click something with my new camera!! It was only as I was downloading it that I wondered more about her - What did she think of the temple and the Lord, sitting outside day after day, selling prasad and photos to the odd customer who overcame the tactics of the other vendors to buy something from her? 

As I was writing this post, I couldnt decide on a title for it.... What should  I call her ? Seller of Gods? Temple vendor?  Vendor outside a temple? After much deliberation, I decided to leave the title blank.... Any suggestions? 


  1. Lovely picture Anu and more than that your commentary. It is difficult to decide what to call it though.

  2. The last remaining patient businessperson in this impatient country.

  3. Hi Anu, long time...Nice to see you have visited Somnath temple..Good picture there. I am not very regular these days. Hope everything is fine at your side.

    1. Yes, chitra... been really busy!! Somnath was great.. will post about the temple soon! and I have yet to catch up with your posts.... hope to see u back in form soon too!

  4. Hi Anu,
    You are on my blogroll, but I am visiting here after quite a while. Great to know that you visited SOmnath. I grew up in the town next to it, Veraval and have some great memories of the temple. It has a special place in my heart. Hope you liked it too.
    P.S.: Your blog design is awesome! How did you do it?

  5. Hi,

    You are right. In most temples you will find some one like her. That look is not of indifference or disinterest. It is as though she has given up trying because she doesn't feel she can push for results anymore. Giving up is always dangerous for any individual. It marks an inner frenzy that no one else will understand.

    1. you are quite possibly right, Swapna! there are so many like her who have sat at the same place for years, selling their wares, but lack the driving force required to push a sale... and somewhere along the way, give up! but then again, maybe they are patient, waiting for that one busy day, when they will be able to sell something.. i always wonder about these people who pester pilgrims at temples.. what do they think? do they believe?

  6. It is said, in silence one can hear the footsteps of God. Perhaps she is being silent to hear the footsteps of God walking towards her stall in the form of devotees:).

    1. maybe god does walk towards her stall in the form of devotees.. how else would she manage to make a living and still come and sit there day after day? as they say, good things come to those who wait!

  7. Nice one. They are omnipresent at temple complexes.


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