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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

Surprises at Udupi

In October 2011, we spent the Diwali vacation in and around Sringeri. Refreshed and rejuventated by the peaceful and serene environs of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, we visited a number of temples around Sringeri, and then headed off for a quick visit to Kollur and Udupi. Continuing with the story............

It had been drizzling while we were in the temple, but the rain seemed to take a break as we emerged. As we hurried to the bus stand before the rain started again, our attention was caught by these huge mannequins at the entrance to the temple hall. A faded poster informed us that they had stood welcome for a Yakshagana performance a few weeks earlier...

Naturally, I stopped to click a photo, and that drew our attention to something else... something I hadn’t seen in a long, long time..... local tightrope artistes!

They were a fairly common sight on the roads of Delhi during my childhood, and even when we came to Mumbai, we spotted them now and again. There was a time when I remember watching them with bated breath... Then came a time when I passed by without stopping for a look... It has only been recently that I realised they have been missing from our streets for quite a few years... and, as with most such things, the realisation came only with the desire to show Samhith the entertainments we grew up with!

Shankar and I were transported to our childhood, and we watched happily, but Samhith was less impressed, thanks to all the stunts he watches on TV.....

The kid with the collection bowl was covered in feathers...
Here are a couple of videos...

And as we watched, behind the performers and the temple, there arose a beautiful rainbow!

It was a wonderful sight.... the rainbow, the temple, and the performers!

What an end to the day, we thought, as we went on our way to the bus stand. It just shows how little we knew of what was to come next!!!

We reached the bus stand, only to discover that we had missed the last bus to Sringeri once again!!!! And it began pouring too!! Any sane person would have hired a car to Sringeri, or stayed overnight at Udupi. But not us! Shankar decided that we could take an auto back to Sringeri. I was sceptical, but the auto driver whom he found seemed ready to take on the challenge. Thus we set off, amidst the pouring rain, on a road which seemed too pockmarked to justify the title of ‘hghway’... till somewhere near Manipal, where the rain proved too much for all of us, and the auto driver finally gave up! How we managed to get a taxi in pitch darkness, with the rain in full force, and how we arrived at Sringeri, bedraggled and drooping with sleep, is something I wish I could forget!

That, we hoped, was the end of our adventure. We were to leave Sringeri the next morning, and head towards the River Tern Lodge. It was a much anticipated part of our trip, and we were looking forward to it eagerly. However, we had more adventures in store before reaching the lodge! 


  1. Hi Anuradha! Awesome write up. I happened to take a look at it by chance and I am inspired. Both to travel to Udupi and to continue my writing...

    1. Thanks Smita... All the very best!Hope I get to read soon about your visit to Udupi!

  2. very interesting. I enjoy divali in 2009 in Tamil Nadu. Greetings Dietmut

    1. Thanks Dietmut! Hope you enjoyed Diwali in Tamilnadu

  3. Hey that street performer just gave me an idea for a post. Thank you :) Your travails in the auto sounded too traumatic. Wonder how you survived that and made plans for the next day! I have been to Udipi in 2002 and gone to the temple. Didn't go around much though.

    1. Now I am waiting to read your post, Zephyr!!! and it wasnt really traumatic.. we enjoyed it for a while, actually,. it was only that we were really tired after a long day and it eventually caught up with us! and besides, we had to break our resolution to avoid hiring a cab!

  4. (With a look of absolute horror) An auto from Udipi to Sringeri? Are you serious? You are really brave or adventurous or both.

    1. :D thats us!!! call us mad or adventurous or both! so now u know why samhith is the way he is!

  5. That was too much "An Auto from Udupi to Sringeri" , This is an example of what they say in hindi pakki ghumakkari . The place and the post both were refreshing to me and my memories in Udupi and rainbow was the cherry on the cake .

    Thanks for sharing

  6. oh wow I loved the video and the little girl performing Awesome..

    but then sad too that such a little girl has to work to earn a living ..

    lovely pics


    1. Thanks Bikram.. and thats the sad part of it.. the reason we dont really enjoy these performances as much these days...


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