Monday, March 29, 2010

Elephanta caves

Elephanta lsland is situated about 11 kms northwest of Apollo Bunder near Gateway of India, the departure point for ferries to the famous caves.

Elephanta is about 1050 hectores in extant at high tide. It is a range of trap two and a half kilometers in length and about 173 meteres above sea level. The island, which has a coast line of 7 kms, consists of two hillocks separated by a narrow valley and once full of mangraoves, but now on the decline. The rocky out crop found on the island is made up of trap, a form of basalt.

There are three small village viz. Raj Bunder, Shet Bunder and Mora Bunder located over the island and still inhabited by people, population roughly being 1600. Farming and fishing is the chief occupation of the habitant people here.

This island was known as “Gharapuri” in the ancient Literarure. The first component denotes the Gharis or Guruvasv i.e. the sudra priests of shaivite temple. The second ‘puri’ denotes ‘town’. Thus the Gharapuri it would mean the town of the ‘Ghari Priests’.

In Parkrit the world ghara means fort or fortification wall in Sanskrit it is called prakara. Which signify that it was once a fortress city. It is an apporopriate title for the island. According to 11th Century inscription on the copper vessel, this place was known as ‘Sripuri’, meaning wealthy town or town of abundant wealth.

A daily boat service operates between the Gateway of india and Elephanta. The launch drops passengers in the N-W of the island at a pier of separated concrete blocks (New Jetty). There is a miniature train for going from the pier to the foot of the hill. The Caves are a quarter mile off, you have to climb 120 steps to reach the cave temples.

An Archaeological Offeircer is available near the entrance to the Caves. This monuments is under the protected and control of superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological survy of india, mini circle, Mumbai.

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