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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

Wayand - Exploring the Kuruva Island

This was my first sight of the Kabini, as she meanders through the lush green forests of Wayanad. Yet, my attention was captured, not by the abundance of water in peak summer, but by the sight of the raft which was tethered to the bank, all set to take us to the other side.

We were visiting the Kuruva island, a 950 acre protected river delta on the Kabini river in Wayanad. The dense and uninhabited forest on the island is home to a variety of flora and fauna, which makes it one of the most popular places in Wayanad. The raft was there to take us to the island, and contrary to my expectations, there were neither oars nor a punt to help steer it. instead, there were two ropes strung between the trees on either side.....

And the raft was steered by pulling on these ropes!

We were the only ones in the raft at the time, but it had a capacity of more than 50! This, to me, seemed to be one of the most environment friendly mass modes of transport I had seen in a long time.

To my excited son, it wasn’t the eco-friendly tag that was interesting, but the idea of pulling a raft full of people across the river. As he tried his hand at the rope, he said, “It is fun, but it must be difficult when the raft is full.” As we returned, he got a taste of that too, with the raft almost full. “The people here must be strong” was all he said!

Entering the forest itself was a bit of an anticlimax, filled as it was with excited visitors. The crowd and the extreme heat ensured that the only sound we heard was the chatter of tourists instead of the bird calls we had hoped to hear!

The island is well maintained, though in a natural manner. Gnarled tree roots enliven the path a little, as do the bamboo bridges and logs placed over rivulets. They add a touch of adventure to what is, in essence, just a man made path along the edge of the island.

Ants/ Wasps’ nests were a common sight on the bamboo...

There were guards stationed every few yards.... something to be appreciated.

Simply walking along the path wouldn’t have been very exciting, if it wasn’t for this fellow who peeped out of the water and held our interest for quite a while!

The sight of the crocodile lifted our spirits... and we began paying more attention to the life around us.... and here is what we saw next...

These tiny creatures, which we would probably have ignored (or stomped on) at home, held our interest for quite a while....And while I struggled with taking a decent pic with the macro mode of my camera, we invited the curious stares of a number of visitors! I am sure they thought we were nuts, photographing ants!

There were plenty of monkeys all around us... a fact which forced Samhith to behave, worried they would pounce on him!

As for birds, this solitary Pond Heron obliged us with a sight...

And then there were the cicadas. We could hear their song all through the path, and then we saw this....

The exoskeletons they had discarded as they emerged as adults. They were on every tree here. Could it be, that they had matured in droves before the arrival of the monsoon?

And there were other insects too... such as this one, which I wasn’t able to identify...

Walking back to where we had seen the crocodile, we checked if it was still there. It was, and appeared fast asleep....

Till it opened its eyes, evidently aware that it was being watched!

It was only hunger pangs that made us realise how long we had stayed on the island, so we hurried off for some wonderful food... a typical Kerala Sadya, or feast. Sorry, I have no photos. I was first too hungry, and then too busy eating, you see! 

An edited version of this article was originally published on the Club Mahindra Blog


  1. Seems to have been a trip full of excitements. Looking at the photographs and the descriptions I too feel tempted to make an early visit to this place. Thank you for an excellent travelogue.

    1. yes, PNS! it was def an exciting trip! lots of stuff to write about!!! and yes, you should certainly go soon! its a beautiful place!

  2. Wonderful account of your travel to Kuruvadweep. The island does have lots to explore. Nice captures too.

  3. Interesting and inspiring account. Hope to visit it someday soon.

  4. The rafting experience is very interesting, quite an adventure in itself. Little things like these can really add to the entire excitement of exploring a new place. Amazing pictures and write up, the macro shot of the ant is spectacular. :)

    1. Absolutely, Arti!! these little things are what make a trip memorable. and most of the time, such things can be really quite simple and normal somewhere. which is why travel always brings up interesting thoughts!! and that macro shot took quite a bit of time and experimentation. glad it worked out finally!

  5. Great shot!
    Post written with good travel experience in with the character of crocodile is very interesting and looking simple.

  6. The raft looks so inviting for a book read, doesn't it? :-) And that bridge is so inviting. As for the crocodile staring at you, I must say that it was a perfect capture.

    1. what a thought, Sudha!! honestly, that didnt strike me.... maybe because of all the people there :( and that crocodile was a great sight!

  7. Nice shots! I have read earlier that too much crowd in Kurura island will affect the fragile ecosystem. They should limit the number that is allowed per day as they have done for some wildlife safaris.

    1. Yes Bindhu, the crowds surely will affect the eco system, and i believe it has already shown its effect. they have already started regulating the places where tourists visit... and i think they can try to restrict the number too... will help save the place at least!

  8. After reading this I wish to go there soon. I like your shoots so much.


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