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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

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - a Photo Blog

“Cranes” whispered Samhith, his voice filled with awe! “They are not cranes. They are Open Billed Storks” replied our boatman-cum-guide. “When we go closer, you can see how their bills have a slight gap and seem to be open. That’s where they get their name from” he elaborated.

Open Billed Stork (Asian Openbill)

We were at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Srirangapatna, and for once, my son didn’t need to be reminded to keep his voice down. His awe far exceeded his excitement, and he was spellbound!

Asian Openbill with young ones in nest

The sight that stretched ahead did deserve that kind of awe. We were on the Kaveri, in a boat, no other humans around but us and the boatman, and, on the trees around, on the islands, were perched, literally birds of all feathers! 

There were Spot Billed Pelicans

Spot Billed Pelicans - adults and juveniles

Spot Billed Pelicans


Little Cormorant

And Painted Storks

Painted Stork (adult)

The juveniles created a racket, as the adults simply looked on, making me wonder if the young ones were throwing a tantrum, as young ones are wont to do!

Painted Storks - Adult (right) and juvenile (left)

We have seen Kingfishers before, but never tire of seeing them!

White Throated Kingfisher

We managed to sight a lone Black Crowned Night Heron, but it was the only bird which seemed to be shy! It didn’t stay long enough for me to get a better shot!

Black Crowned Night Heron

The Egrets, in their breeding plumage, were a beautiful sight…

Egret in breeding plumage

Egret in nest

And a few Pond Heron made their appearance too.

Pond Heron

A pair of Stone Plovers sat impassively on a rock, in the middle of the river…

Stone Plovers

And Black headed Ibises perched right atop the trees.

Black Headed Ibis

Black Headed Ibis

A number of crocodiles swam around, probably trying to catch their breakfast, staring at us balefully as we disturbed their habitat…


Crocodile- up close!

Under another rocky outcrop in the middle of the river were these…

Nests of Indian Cliff Swallows

…nests of the Indian Cliff Swallows, and the birds rushed about their morning work, apparently oblivious to our presence.

Indian Cliff Swallows

A few bats hung upside down amidst all this activity, peacefully sleeping off their exertions of the night…


And a bird of prey waited and watched, but unfortunately, I could not identify it. Can any of you help please?

Serpent Eagle? Shikra? 

Our boat ride inside the sanctuary lasted almost an hour, and it was an hour filled with nothing but the sounds of birds, and whispered exclamations. It was only when we got out, and back into our auto, that the suppressed excitement found an outlet, Samhith eagerly scribbling down the bird names before he forgot them!

Incidentally, our birdwatching jaunt had another interesting result - our auto driver was so surprised that even a kid knew so many birds, that he frequently stopped along the road, asking us the names of other birds we saw!

  • Location: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is located on the outskirts of Srirangapatna, about 16 Km from Mysore.
  • Where to Stay: Both, Mysore and Srirangapatna are convenient places to stay to visit the sanctuary. Besides, there are also homestays and farm stays away from the city, and near the sanctuary.
  • How to Reach: There are buses to Srinrangapatna from both Bangalore as well as Mysore. From here, it is best to hire a vehicle to the sanctuary. 

Suggestions :
  • We stayed at Mysore and hired an auto to the sanctuary, and also combined this trip with a tour of Srirangapatna. While one day is more than enough for the entire circuit, if you are an ardent birdwatcher or wildlife enthusiast, you might enjoy staying somewhere near the sanctuary and making multiple visits.
  • The best way to see birds is to take a boat ride down the Kaveri inside the sanctuary. The normal rate is around 100 per head, but these are short rides, with a boat load of people. A longer ride easily costs around Rs. 1000 (as of May 2013), though the experience is worth it!
  • The park timings are from 8:30 AM to 6:00PM. Go early in the morning, or in the evening, just before sunset, for the best experience. Tourist footfall increases after 10 AM and continues through till 5 PM. The times just before and after are best for watching the most birds and enjoying the peace and solitude!
  • The best season to watch birds is winter, (usually December to March), but you can see birds here throughout the year. Which birds you see depends on the season though. We visited in May, so even peak summer doesn’t keep the birds away! In fact, seeing all the juveniles was an interesting experience. So, you can look forward to different experiences in different seasons! Calls for multiple visits, doesn’t it? 

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  1. I loved the egrets the most. They look like mad scientists :-D

    1. They are the most common among all these birds, Sudha, and yet, so full of character!

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  3. Been there some 8 years back, and absolutely loved it then! Your pictures are very beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much! It would have been so much more pristine back then... we were lucky to find it so empty. I have heard that usually during the holiday season, tourists flock there, and outnumber the birds!

  4. Amazing photo series on Ranganthittu, those nests of Indian Cliff swallows are so unique.

    1. Thank you, Meghana. Actually, the cliff swallows are seen all across the country, near rocky outcrops near rivers. We saw them at Omkareshwar too, but I didn't have this camera then :-)

  5. Lovely pics, Anu! Samhith must have had a blast!

    1. Thank you, Chari. He did have a blast! This remains the best part of our Mysore trip :-)

  6. loving the pics and the sanctuary, eagerly waiting to visit the sanctuary soon and thanks for the amazing pics.

  7. Hi, this is a good blog. I plan to visit Ranganathittu this week Fri. 19th Feb 2015.
    Looking forward to it. I am going along and not with family, main purpose to do bird photography. I am into Photography but trying my hand with birds this time....


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