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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

Galtaji, Jaipur

This is not among the more popular tourist places in Jaipur. It is more of a pilgrim place, and a favourite among locals. Since we visited Jaipur as guests of a local family, they decided to give us a tour of the city... or rather; to places that they thought, we would enjoy seeing the most. First on their list was the temple of Galtaji. Honestly, I had no idea such a temple existed. In fact, I had never thought that I would visit temples while in Jaipur!! However, this temple turned out to be a surprise in more ways than one!

The Galtaji Temple is, accurately speaking, a complex filled with temples. That the temple complex is situated amidst the Aravalli ranges adds a touch of interest. 

The entrance resembles that of a fort, and the road that leads us to the temple simply makes that feeling more dominant. 

The temple complex appears to be more a palace complex than a temple, making the place even more interesting. 

Ascetics are said to have flocked to the site since the early 1500s, but the present temple complex was built by Diwan Rao Kriparam, a courtier of Sawai Jai Singh II, in the 18th century.

There are two approaches to the temple - one is a path over the hills, which is for those who walk all the way. The second approach is by a road, which passes along the Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh - gardens laid out by Sawai Jai Singh II, for his Sisodia queen. 

This road leads us closer to the temple, and we have to climb fewer steps to reach the top. Right at the top is a temple dedicated to the Sun God. At the foothills are temples dedicated to Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.

Each of these temples are no less than palaces, and the paintings make them appear all the more like the residences of royalty!

Walking up the first set of stairs, we come to a pool, with people happily frolicking in the water. On the next level is another pool. The springs which feed these pools are the raison d’ĂȘtre of this temple.

As the story goes, this place was once the ashram of the Sage Galav. He performed great penances at this holy site, and he is also credited with bringing the water of the holy rivers here. People flock here from all over to bathe in these holy waters, and from what we heard, every inch of this huge space is filled to bursting during Makar Sankranti, when the waters are believed to be the most potent.

The source of this holy water is believed to be a cow’s mouth (gaumukh), like at so many other places, and there is also a small shrine where the water actually gushes out from the spring.

At a little higher level is the main shrine, where the saint was said to have lived and meditated. There are no idols here, but simply saligramams  or Shaligrams that he worshipped. Saligramams are holy stones found in the Gandaki river, which are believed to represent Lord Vishnu. (They are very interesting, and for reasons other than religious, but more about that in my next post).

Another set of steps leads us to the temple at the top of the hill – the temple dedicated to Surya, but it was too hot for us, so we decided to head back.

This place is apparently notorious for its monkeys. We were warned to leave all eatables, and in fact, all our things behind. In fact, I was even advised to leave my camera behind, because the monkeys would grab whatever they could. Needless to say, I did not heed the advice about the camera, which thankfully came to no harm! But the advice was certainly good, for the place abounded in monkeys! In fact, as I was checking up some details to write this post, I learnt through Wikipedia that these Rhesus Macaques were featured in National Geographic channel's Rebel Monkeys series!!!

If I had visited Jaipur as I had intended to, as a tourist, staying within the old city and visiting the forts and palaces that it is famous for, I probably would never have visited Galtaji. I can only thank whatever divine power it was that called me there, for it is a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting!


  1. Beautiful place with exceptional art work.
    Well captured!!

  2. Anu, what can I say. I loved this post and the pictures are breathtaking. With my current interest in colours I was busy trying to look at the frescoes you have photographed. I think I saw my favourite ultramarine blue here :-)

    I did not know about this temple and its setting is amazing. For the geologist in me, this was a feast. As for the ammonites/shaligramam, I'm going to wait for your post on it. :-)

    1. Thanks so much, Sudha!!! Your fav ultramarine was all over the place. Go to Jaipur soon!!

  3. Nice pictures. Never heard of this place.

    1. Thanks Kishan! Its quite popular among the locals... but not among tourists..

  4. Wow!..visited this place as child, thanks for sharing

  5. Beautiful pictures,so many of them,It felt like we visited the place.
    Thanks a lot.

  6. Fantastic pics and post..what an amazing place :)

  7. Hello Anuradha
    You have a very nice and interesting blog. I wil follow you sinds today. I come back so soon as possible. Greetings Dietmut

  8. beautiful clicks. i've never been in Rajasthan, your clicks help me to imagine about the place.

  9. That was a spectacular virtual tour, Anu! I have been to Jaipur countless number of times but never could make it to Galtaji. Next time, I am going to keep this high up in my itinerary and I will thank you for it! :-)

  10. Great snaps.... And that seems to be quite a tour. :)

  11. Anuradha, Indeed a great work on Galta gate, this is the best way one can picture Galtaji . Your pictures are prominent and reflects the beauty of the place and tempts the reader to just hurriedly pack bags and head towards the city!! keep it up with your great work!!!

  12. I am going to visit this Anu jee this december end ,

    Thanks I was looking for some info on Jaipur . I got from your blog.

  13. Hey nice blog,Thank's for this helpful information come back again for more interesting information…Keep it up!
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  14. Hi Grat Your Blog,Thank's for this helpful information come back again for more interesting information!!!
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