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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

Jain Temple, Sultan Bathery, Wayanad

The small town of Sultan Bathery in Wayanad was originally called ‘Gananaptivattam’. It was only when Tipu Sultan arrived here, and used an abandoned ancient Jain temple for storing his ammunition, that the town got its new name. Tipu Sultan has long been gone, and so has the ammunition which gave the town its name, but the ancient temple still stands!

Sadly, little is known of the temple, such as details of when it was built and by whom. 

There is no idol inside either. We visited the temple late in the evening, when it was about to close, and found the temple empty, but for a lone ASI official who also acted as a watchman. He told us that the idol which originally occupied the sanctum here was shifted to a newer Jain temple at Kalpetta, but that every year, for Mahavir Jayanti, the idol was brought to this temple and prayers conducted as per the rituals. The temple thus served its original purpose just for a day each year!!!

The temple is a simple one, going by other Jain temples we have visited, but there was no dearth of detailing or ornamentation on the pillars and walls.

Samhith was excited by the depictions, and we tried our best to understand the symbolic representation. Unfortunately, there was no guide around to help us out. Eventually, the ASI chap himself helped us out, pointing out the important ones….such as this Swan in meditative posture….

And this Naagapaasham, which, I thought till now was only a Hindu concept!

Here is Samhith, trying to figure out how the snake is entwined, with the ASI official's help!

This Jain temple was among the last places we visited at Wayanad. It was then time to move on, and now it is time to move on again…. To the other places we visited on that trip. Meanwhile, I am off again, once again to Karnataka, in search of some relaxation for me, and more stories for you. I will be offline for a week or so, but when I come back, I will hopefully be rejuvenated enough, and full of enthusiasm to write more regularly!!! See you then!


  1. What a beautiful temple, Anu. My kind of temple, if I may say so :) And what's in a name?

    This Wayanad series of yours is turning out to be a real treat, considering that whenever one reads about this region it's only about it's natural beauty. Honestly, I have not come across anything on sights such as this. Great work.

    1. its absolutely "our" kind of temple, Sudha! and yes, most posts about wayanad would be about natural beauty since it is indeed a beautiful place... but then we are the kind who arent satisfied with nature alone, and also love to explore the traces others have left before us, so such places do tend to attract us, i guess!!!

  2. Very descriptive and informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is absolutely a lovely jain temple. Also one of the few well maintained ones in Wayanad.
    Nice post.

    1. Yes, Niranjan. it is indeed one of the few well maintained ones, but at least even the others are left as they are, instead of modernisation in the name of renovation as it happens every where these days.

  4. Awesome. I can't wait to visit... Loving the photos :)

  5. I never knew how much Tipu and such history had infiltrated into the temples of Wayanadu until I read this. It also came as new knowledge that Jain temples existed in Wayanadu.

  6. I would like to ask you one thing. How to ensure that this was a jain temple? Is there any evidence? Or simply a historical deduction in comparison to style of architecture?

    1. Thats an interesting thought, but yes, most of the evidence is indeed the architecture and the carvings, besides the idol inside. of course, there are similarities to hindu temples too.


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