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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

Karanji Lake, Mysore

A flock of Grey Hornbills flew across, their calls echoing over the surface of the calm lake. A pair of Cormorants perched on the dried branch of a tree, stretching their wings, trying to dry them before the sun set. On the lake, a bunch of spot billed ducks swam peacefully, quacking to each other every now and then. On the other side of the lake, more birds – egrets, herons, and cormorants, returned to their nests, calling out eagerly to announce their arrival. Every now and then, a peacock screeched, its harshness muffled by the thick foliage around. Sitting on a bench placed conveniently near the lake, we simply sat and watched the birds, enjoying the peace here, in this oasis of birdlife in the heart of a city.

Spread over 90 acres, Karanji Lake in Mysore was once a haven for migratory birds. Rapid urbanization and neglect led to it becoming a garbage dump. However, timely intervention managed to save the lake, and turn it once more into a birdwatchers’ delight. A walk-in aviary, a butterfly park, a bird watching tower, and lots of place to just sit and relax, show just how effective this transformation has been.

Great Cormorants

Spot Billed Duck

Maybe it was just the summer heat, or probably this lake is not really a tourist destination yet, but it was practically deserted when we visited. There are no boards here, just a path running around the periphery of the lake, surrounded with dense vegetation. Wandering over the path, we found the aviary without any difficulty.

A portion of the walk in Aviary

Like at the zoo, we were greeted by dancing peacocks!

We wondered why the peacocks were dancing in this searing heat, but got our answer when the skies clouded over and brought us rains that very evening!

The peacocks seemed to be least bothered by us, and continued to dance, or perch on trees. They were probably used to cameras by now!

What an experience it was, to be so close to these birds, especially the peacocks...

Most of the birds here were pheasants. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture all of them on camera, mostly because I had to keep an eye on Samhith, who was completely excited by all the birds around him. Here are those I did manage….

White Peacock

Lady Amherst's Pheasant

I am not quite sure about what this is... all puffed up as it was, I couldn't help clicking, and it looks more like a jungle fowl than a pheasant

Golden Pheasant? 

There aren't just pheasants though... We saw other birds too... such as this Grey Hornbill...

and these white doves...

And Swans....

Tearing ourselves from the aviary, we walked along the path, hoping to walk all the way to the butterfly garden. On the way, we stopped at the tower built for birdwatching, and were enthralled at the sight of ducks, herons and cormorants.

Great Cormorant

Grey Heron

Grey Heron, with Purple Morrhen in the background

Another Grey Heron

I wonder if this is also a Grey heron? 

Unfortunately, that was when my camera gave up and the battery died, probably exhausted from all the clicking. This made Samhith very happy, since he always complains I pay more attention to the camera than to him!

We did think of going to the butterfly garden, but were so happy watching the birds, that we elected not to. Instead, we simply sat on a bench, and watched the birds, for the next  hour or so, before finally heading back home. After all, we should keep something in Mysore for our next visit, right? Incidentally, there is also a Natural History Museum nearby. We didn't have time to visit that either, but if you are in Mysore, give it a try too. 


  1. Though I'm not a good fan of birds, I read the full. Well written and good clicks. Carry on!

  2. Nice shots, Anu. Love the dancing peacocks :)

  3. I loved Karanji Lake, too. It has become one of our favourite haunts in Mysore now. Absolutely loved your peacock clicks! They are gorgeous!!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Mridula. you will love this place too. if u are ever in mysore, dont miss it

  5. What beautiful pictures Anu! And to think I spent an entire day in Mysore without knowing about all these places. We just saw both the palaces and Brindavan Gardens. That took us the entire day. There are so many places one wishes to go back to :(

    1. Thanks Usha. I think you would have enjoyed this place more than either of the palaces and def Brindavan gardens. btw, i didnt go to brindavan gardens at all :) but very few people actually seem to know about this. i read about it in a mag just before i left, so made it a point to visit, plus, shankar wasnt with us, and all the palaces closed at 5:30 so we had to find some way to spend the evenings, and the lakes were just perfect/ anyways, i am sure there will be a next time, so u can go sometime


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