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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

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) 2015

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival is something I look forward to, year after year. In 16 years, the festival has grown, from a few art displays and events on Rampart Row to a 9 day fest, with 450 events, spread out across 11 venues. As I walk down the crowded lanes jostling with people eager to click a ‘selfie’ with every display, I can’t but help contrast the scene with the early years of the fest. Then, a few ‘arty types’ attended the event, and discussed knowledgeably about the displays, while students like me who knew little about art wandered around, trying to make sense of what the artist intended us to see. We were eager to be a part of the fest, mostly because this was the first such event in Mumbai. Though, over the years, the art and event scene in Mumbai has improved, the KGAF still holds its own, in variety, as well as accessibility; which is why massive crowds throng the venues, day after day. With my intense aversion to crowds, the only way I have managed to enjoy the fest in recent years, is by turning up on weekday mornings, before the rush sets in, which means that I miss out on many events and walks, since of course, I can’t spend the whole day there! However, since I am happiest walking around the visual art displays, I can’t really complain. Here then, is the Kala Ghoda Art Festival (KGAF) 2015, through my lens….

The Kala Ghoda!

The name of the festival, as well as the area it is held in, comes from a sculpture of Edward VII mounted on a horse, which once stood here. The sculpture has been moved to Rani Baug, more popularly known as the Byculla Zoo, but the name endures! Over the years, the Black Horse has been seen in many avatars at the fest, but in recent times, it has given way to other animals, and this time, the crow!

Kala Kauwa…the survivor bird with a touch of wisdom!

We noticed these wheels, some lit up with tiny bulbs, and others with mirrors stuck on them to reflect the light…. They added an interesting touch to the scene…

As did these buntings tied around the trees…

These threads hanging from the tree…

And these bangles, a part of one of the installations.

This year, I found these small touches a lot more interesting than many of the installations. One of the installations that caught my eye was this…. In Transition - depicting the transition from celluloid to digital medium.

Most eye capturing were the beautiful butterflies…

Metamorphosis, depicting the abstract journey of metamorphosis as the caterpillar transforms into  a butterfly was surely the exhibit drawing the most crowds! We loved the paintings on the outer walls, and the play of light inside, though thanks to the crowd, I didn’t manage any decent photos.

Samhith especially liked this one, and this was the only exhibit he posed with, eagerly!

The only other display he liked was Seven Islands in the Sea of Hope, depicting the seven islands of the city of Bombay... and hopes tied in the area we live in. On the first day, we were able to pick out a hope and tie it on the display...

And this is what it eventually looked like, by day 3! 

All these were on Rampart Row. Moving on the Museum Gardens, where the children’s works are placed, we found a lot more interesting displays. Let me begin with the one I liked the most….

Van Gogh, an exploration, by Art for Akanksha

Note the details, made with bangles, wool, buttons and paper!

Then, there were the other exhibits, all equally interesting…. Rabindranath Tagore featured prominently….

Then, there was Ustad Zakir Hussain

S.H Raza


And Rousseau, in a jungle!

Even the other displays were very eye catching… I loved these Pop Cans!

And Sea Birds...

And these, in the gardens… painted tyres as swings…

Painted boards as see saws…

And even a fish made of net and filled with plastic bottles!

Each year, I realize that the kids surprise me, and keep me riveted to the art, something which the adults don’t seem to. I wonder why. Is it that innocence and creativity that the kids have, and adults seem to be losing? Whatever the reason, I feel that its high time the kids are encouraged more, and more schools are encouraged to participate.

This is what makes me return to Kala Ghoda, year after year, in spite of the crowds, and in spite of the distance, and all such factors. Even Samhith, who is least interested in art, enjoys this yearly trip, braving the crowds and giving up his playtime. We look forward to see where KGAF goes from here, and to years more of great art!


  1. Thanks for this, Anu! Makes me so nostalgic! The installations seem particularly colorful this time; or is the camera-eye?

  2. KGAF has lost its charm. Hence, I decided to skip it. But I'm glad I could be a part of it through your pictures!


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