Sunday, May 2, 2010

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island is an hour boat ride out of Mumbai. Its a pleasant enough trip, you get a bit of a ocean breeze a nice relief from the heat and the views of Mumbai are worth the 120INR return. The boats leave from the Gateway of India, one of the most famous landmarks in Mumbai if not all of India. The Gateway was constructed after King George and Queen Mary of England came to India and this was their point of disembarkation.

Behind the Gateway is the Taj Palace hotel and tower. The Taj Palace was built by Jamsedji Tata it is widely believed that Tata decided to build the luxurious hotel after he was refused entry to one of the city's grand hotels of the time, Watson's Hotel, as it was restricted to 'whites only'. It was also the scene of a stand off between the terrorists and the police during the '08 attacks.

The boat ride takes you past the Indian navy boats, I don't think I was suppose to take pics of these, cause later I saw a sign on the boat that said not to take photo's of the navy ships.

We were also accompanied for a bit of the boat ride by a flock of flamingos. That flew along side us.

Once on the Island you walk 1Km to get to the entrance, the walk is not boring there are food and trinket sellers and monkeys to entertain you all the way up to the caves.

In Chicago I had recently gone to a slide presentation of a yoga teacher who had just come back from India. She had gone to Elphanta Island and was told by her tour guide not to look the monkeys in the eye. I don't know I tried to look them in the eye but they appeared more occupied with looking for food behind me. I finally got this ones attention.

There are five caves in total Art historians have dated the caves in the range of late 5th to late 8th century AD. Archaeological excavations have unearthed a few Kshatrapa coins dated to 4th century AD.

Really only cave #1 is worthy of a visit the other 4 are just empty caves carved into the rock.

Hinduism is complex and I am only scratching the surface of this religion. But so far I understand that there is one God but comes in many different forms. I have a lot to learn about.

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