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Elephanta

The northern coastline of Bombay. reminds you of the changing industrial and technological scene. Attendant gulls hover motionless overhead, an occasional fish leaps out of the wake furrowing behind it is a pleasant hour and 15 minutes to Elephanta.

Once known as Puri - later Gharapuri - this island was the proud capital of a powerful coastal kingdom and the great cave shrine in praise of Shiva, excavated in the sixth century, added to the ruling dynasty. Several centuries later the Portugese took possession of the island. They found monolithic stone elephant at the place where they landed and also named this a ilha do elephanta, island of the elephant. There was a stone horse too, a little further, which has a vanished without a trace.


The Portugese built a fort here with a watchtower, hoisting up to flag to ward off Aattacks by pirates boats. Did they use the caves for target practice? Or did they deliberately desecrate the sculptures? Antonio Bocarro, Portugese chronicler of the 17th century described Elephanta vividity and made special mention of the cistern of water in the western cave: "There is also a large and deep tank of water without which the heathens of the East never build their pagodas; because among their other abominations they believe that water purifies and cleanses them".

Where to Stay

It is recommended that tourists stay at Aurangabad. There are Daily tours to Ellora from Aurangabad.

 

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