Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Elephanta Caves ~ Unesco World Heritage

When you are in Mumbai you have to go to the Elephanta Caves and start with a boat ride from the Gateway of India and at that point you also see the majestic Taj Hotel, So you catch all 3 in 1 go!

Much before the Gateway of India was completed in 1928 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, Mumbai already had an equally majestic landmark. Home to the Royalty, heads of states, tycoons, captains of industry, corporate nomads and jet-setters, The Taj Mahal Palace, is a living tribute to Mumbai's cosmopolitan ethos and dynamic spirit.

In 2008 Mumbai city had fallen prey to the biggest ever terrorist operation in India. In a well-planned and synchronized manner, heavily-armed terrorists attacked 10 major landmarks in the heart of India’s financial capital on Wednesday evening. The main target of the terrorists were foreigners and policemen. The two five star hotels of the city, Taj and Oberoi, were attacked by terrorists. A sad day for India!

(this is not my picture, but the rest are)

The Gateway of India is synonymous with Mumbai. It is the most famous monument of Mumbai and is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. Gateway of India is a great historical monument built during the British rule in the country. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai (then, Bombay). Gateway of India was built at Apollo Bunder, a popular meeting place.

In the past Gateway of India used to be the arrival point for visitors from the west. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianised, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. This landmark of Mumbai is a must visit of the city.

After about an hour boat ride you arrive at the Elephanta Caves, but first you have to walk about a few hundred steps UP and past hundreds of tourist vendors who sell those cheapy touristy stuff... but the caves are gorgeous, so just endure!

The Elephanta caves owes its name to the enormous stone elephant found there by Portuguese navigators. This elephant was cut into pieces, removed to Mumbai and somehow put together again. It is today the melancholy guardian of Victoria Gardens Zoo in Mumbai. So no elephant to see in the caves... JJ and Jezz were searching for it (and we too, since we didn't know this info by then).

The 'City of Caves', on an island in the Sea of Oman 10K of the coast of Mumbai, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave.
The date of the famous Elephanta Caves is still very much debated and varies from the 6th century to the 8th century according to different specialists. They constitute one of the most striking collections of rock-art in India. It was indeed impressive!

Auntie Charu had bought the girls some books about the mythology of India, so it was nice to see some carved rocks about the goddesses the girls had read about! The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva.

The name of this sculpture is Trimurti Sadashiva and Maheshmurti. The sculpture is 20 feet (6.1 m) in height, depicts a three-headed Shiva, representing Panchamukha Shiva. The three heads are said to represent three essential aspects of Shiva — creation, protection, and destruction.

There were these cheeky monkeys all over the place, and they were really aggressive! Everywhere there were signs to NOT feed the monkeys, but still people would give them chips, cookies and all sorts of food they were eating. Because the monkeys kept following the people with food in their hands, they got so scared that they threw it to them! So a vicious circle... because that was exactly what the monkeys were after. All 4 of us were a bit scared of these dare devils, but we had no food with us, so luckily they were not after us!

And here some other 'cheeky monkeys' LOL

On the boat on the way back we were seated next to a big Indian family who just went to a wedding either that day or the day before and they were still dressed to party and the hands completely painted with fresh henna. The father of this little girl was the whole time taking pictures of ME! Yes me... I was probably the first white people in such close proximity because they kind of came from the country side... Since he was so bold to come so close with his small camera in my face, I thought I can do the same and took some beautiful shots of his little girl with the big sad eyes. So cute!!

A beautiful trip to one of the landmarks of Mumbai, go and see it if you are there!
Another great day in Mumbai...


Tina Liel said...

Morning Mireille! What an amazing place! What a history. Your girls are just the cutest! And your photos breathtaking. What a cute pic of that little girl. How much time do you have left of your trip? In that terror attack Israelis were also killed. Terrible! Loved your post about all the great food in Mumbai. Must be amazing to be able to try all that. You asked if I like to live here in Israel. I really like it but I of course miss that native Denmark of mine once in a while. Have a great day♥

Mireille said...

@Tina, you are up early! Actually I am back already here in SA, but just have too many pictures to show, and stories to tell...
I can imagine that you miss Denmark some days, I love Denmark, have a few friends there. The designs and kids clothing I miss from there since in Holland (where I am from) we have a lot of Danish design!

Leah and Maya said...

Wow I tell you I'm just catching up on your blog, my laptop would not let me open your blog while I was in Nevada. What amazing sites you get to see first hand.
I just got your Christmas card!!!!
too funny since it was mailed in December, now thats snail mail.

Maci Miller said...

What an amazing trip! I am loving all these posts and the beautiful pictures. Ok, except the woman picking her nose. I thought it was beautiful b4 you told me what she was doing! LOL.

Love your cheeky monkeys! Those pics are so cute. And that adorable little girl, too!


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