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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

And here is the first Golu this year....

And so it begins.... our tour of the Golus for this year... beginning with the one at my mom's place in Thane. It is much simpler than in the past years, but nevertheless just as creative. Here is what the Golu looks like...

Let's take a closer look at the steps....beginning with the top one...

Right at the top are the goddesses... women power!

The 4th step has the kalasam, accompanied by the Marapachis 
and the 3rd step has Lord Venkateswara and Padmavati in the centre, with Rama, Lakshmana and Sita on the left and Vitthala - Rakumai on the right. In front are the Ashta Lakshmis

The second step has Shiva and Parvati on Kailas, behind them is Karthikeya with Valli and Devayani, next is Ganesha, then a beautiful Dakshinamurthy on the right are assorted dolls of Krishna. The first step jas a wedding set and also a pair of Chettiar Bommais with their wares laid out..

There was no specific theme this year, but the set up revolved around the beautifully done creative art work of my aunt. You can catch glimpses of her work all over..... 

Such as these beautifully decorated Swastikas

The decorated clay plate in the centre and the rangoli on plastic (re--usable)  surrounding it

And this of course, is my favourite!!
The central one is designed by me, created by my aunt... a collaborative project :D 

Look  at these miniature animals sitting prettily on another plastic rangoli

And these adorable miniature musical instruments, sitting on another one
The marapachis remain my all time favourites.......

And here is something new...... On the side, are these decorations, with beautiful new brass vessels... 

What variety and what incredible detail!!

And as if those weren't enough, here are some more!!!

In case you are wondering, these are also miniatures... the one behind is what we call a 'muram' and in front is the cutter we use instead of knives.
And now for the transport section.....

Hitching a ride?

Waiting for the train???
For those of you who have been asking me, my mom lives in Thane. If you live nearby and want to drop in for a closer look, please feel free to send me a mail or drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter, and I will send you their address. They will be happy to see you! 

Meanwhile, come back tomorrow. Hopefully I will have another interesting one to show you! 


  1. So lively. Very cute. I love this festival and arrangement of dolls(we call it as Gombe Habba in KannadaI. I loved the musical instruments and brass utensils. You have arranged them artistically.

    1. Thanks, Ranjana, on behalf of my mom, aunt and sister, who set this up!

  2. I loved your bommakolu...
    Wish that technology is advanced enough to share bakshanam also...

    I loved those rangoli in plastic.,..
    I would love to read a post that details about how it can be done...
    Not the procedures... But at least the materials used...
    Just curious to know...

    A handshake on my behalf to your aunt...
    And I loved your design...
    Looks grand!

    1. THanks so much, Satya, The rangolis are simply beads and plastic decorative jewels stuck onto plastic sheets cut in patterns. will try to share how they are made.

  3. Wow beautiful. Amazing collection of brass vessels. Now I can't wait from dropping in, to your mom's place...

    1. Thanks Meghana. Sorry I wasnt able to visit your place, but it was a quick visit. Do drop in anytime. Have told my mom u will come :D

  4. Wow Anu, I wish I could go to Thane...Will wait for your Golu next year...:)


    1. If you are free, Sonal, wouldnt mind taking you along! and hope next time all goes well, and we are able to keep the golu!

  5. Anu, first, all this looks fantastic. I loved the miniature musical instruments and the utensils a lot. Also the complete set up. The rangolis too. (Yes, you can pat yourself on the back for the one you did. :-) ) But please tell me, I am totally ignorant here, what is a golu? A festival, or something you do during navaratri? And why this particular name? Is there an older post, I can read? :)) Thanks so much in advance..

    1. Thanks so much, Atula! The golu is how we celebrate Navaratri. it is the focal point of our celebrations. since navaratri is mostly a womens' celebration, this is an oportunity for kids and family members to join in and show off their skills. also, the golu represents creation, as well as the quest for enlightenment. the step by step attainment of the divine.. from humans engaged in their chores at lower levels, myths and smaller deities helping awareness at the higher levels, and the gods at the highest levels. the kalasam is a pot with water and coconut kept on the golu.. representing the womb. the prnciples are the same, just shown in a different way. as for further reading, i have been writing abt golus for the past few years. you might have loads to read :D see this tho... have tried to explain the concepts here

    2. Aah. Now I know. I saw the pictures again and realise the stepped way they are placed even better now. What a wonderful depiction. Thanks a lot for introducing me to this. :)

  6. This is so interesting.and something totally new for me. The elaborate mini holy town with complete details, the pictures are really good

  7. Indeed very beautiful. In the olden days we had plenty of Marapachis made of red sandalwood. Now they are no where to be seen. Even the ones we had at Home is missing. I am trying to collect some.

    1. THanks PNS! The marapachis you see are old ones. They have just been redecorated! the new ones come nowhere near in beauty... but they are available at Tirupati. my mom bought mine there, and they are quite good. We also bought marapachis from the forest division guys at tirupati... in the zoo. it was more expensive, but really beautiful.

  8. Wow! every year I think of doing a theme but end up with the steps only owing to lack of time and time for thought!!! Need to plan for next year right away :)

    1. Thanks Santosh! Thats what happens to us too... except that, thanks to samhith, we now keep a side arrangement.... but as to the main golu, that hasnt yet happened :D And yes, you really need to plan well in advance !

  9. hi ur golu is excellent.I live in chennai can u please tell where to get the brass miniature set.Thank You in advance


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