Thursday, July 24, 2008

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

During my last India trip, I got a chance to visit the Elephanta caves. Elephanta caves are located on Elephanta island off the coast of Mumbai.

We started out from home around 9:30 and got to Gateway of India around 10:15. The drive down towards Colaba was quite nice and with practically no traffic. I got to see so many interesting buildings, many skyscrapers, business offices, the Haji Ali sandwich place (this place makes some fantastic sandwiches) and of course the dargah itself.

The thing I really enjoy about India is the statues we have in several places in our cities throughout the country. I don't get to see those here in the US. The first one I got to see was Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri statue with the famous 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' slogan.

We got a nice parking spot right away, and everyone took their belongings and hats/glasses for the rest of the sunny day. There's a little walk from the parking area to the Gateway of India where the ferryboats depart from. On the way, got to see this restaurant owned by none other than Sachin Tendulkar.

Near the Gateway of India, got to see two more statues. One of Swami Vivekanand and the other one of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

After getting the tickets for the ferry boat ride at the stall near Gateway of India, we boarded the boat right away around 10:30ish. It wasn't as much crowded for a Sunday morning.

The ferry boat ride from dock to dock is about 45 mins. The weather was quite wonderful and breezy on that warm day with clear skies so I had fun taking some great photos.

On the way, got to see some naval stations or something similar in the bay and countless boats and a few cargo ships.

We arrived on the Elephanta island around 11:30. There's a nice little walkway from the docks to the park entrance.

They also have a cute little train that brings people up to the park entrance, in case the visitors don't want to walk. We decided to walk as there was so much to see around and stop and take photos, of course!

We got to see some beautiful birds, trees growing in the sea water, quite a few fruit stalls, a lot of boats and many other things along with excited visitors.

From the park entrance, there's wide stone stairs that lead up to the caves. The climb isn't very bad but it's easier if you don't have too many things to carry. The stall owners have the stairs covered with plastic canopy so it's cooler during hot weather. As you climb up, you see lots of souvenir stalls and food/drink stalls along with monkeys and other life that go around the island for survival.

Once we finish climbing the stairs, we come to an open area where they have a small museum with quite a lot of good information about the history of the caves and some sculptures.

A little further from the museum, there's a nice gazebo like place where people sit and relax or have a picnic at.

From here on, the extra-wide stone/concrete walkway begins that leads to the caves. It is beautiful as on one side of the walkway there are the caves and on the other side, there's either hills covered with green trees/plants or just an open view of the island down below or the sea.

The first couple of caves are large and the others are little smaller in size.

All of them are carved from rocks/stone and have stone-carved sculptures and Shiv-linga in them.

The concrete walkway ends when the caves end; from there on it is a dirt trail that leads up to the tallest hill called the Cannon Hill.

At some point this used to be home to a real cannon (which is still there) and the other remains of the buildings that probably were used by military back in the days. There's a nice shaded food stall on the way to the top that also sells cold drinks and fruits and other food. It was quite crowded.

The climbing down was quite easy and fast. At around 4:45 PM we decided to head back to the little train station that takes us to docks. The first train we saw was too crowded so we ended up taking the next one and boarded the 5:30 PM boat back to Mumbai.

Got to see beautiful setting sun while riding back to the mainland.

This is a must visit place if you already haven't been there before. I'd love to go back there again.

For more photos in the series, click here.

Some photos of Mumbai at night.

Urv's Elephanta photos are here.

Good tourist info on this site:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Full Moon

Shot these last week with the full moon of Guru Poornima around the corner.

Didn't have the tripod with me so quite a few have turned out blurry but here are the better ones.

This was taken a couple of days before the full moon.

Moonrise over the lake

Bright moon rises on the full moon night.

More photos of full moon

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Defenestration Building

If you're driving around in San Francisco you might come across this odd looking abandoned building with furniture hanging out of its open windows and walls. It is located at the intersection of Howard St and Sixth St. It's called the defenestration building. It was created in 1997 by Brain Goggin and a team of artists (read below for more info).

Eastern side of the building

Northern side of the building

Here I quote the passage from


(Site-specific installation on the corner of 6th and Howard St. in San Francisco)

This multi-disciplinary sculptural mural involves seemingly animated furniture; tables, chairs, lamps, grandfather clocks, a refrigerator, and couches, their bodies bent like centipedes, fastened to the walls and window-sills, their insect-like legs seeming to grasp the surfaces. Against society's expectations, these everyday objects flood out of windows like escapees, out onto available ledges, up and down the walls, onto the fire escapes and off the roof. "DEFENESTRATION" was created with the help of over 100 volunteers.

The concept of "DEFENESTRATION", a word literally meaning "to throw out of a window," is embodied by the both the site and staging of this installation. Located at the corner of Sixth and Howard Streets in San Francisco in an abandoned four-story tenement building, the site is part of a neighborhood that historically has faced economic challenge and has often endured the stigma of skid row status. Reflecting the harsh experience of many members of the community, the furniture is also of the streets, cast-off and unappreciated. The simple, unpretentious beauty and humanity of these downtrodden objects is reawakened through the action of the piece. The act of "throwing out" becomes an uplifting gesture of release, inviting reflection on the spirit of the people we live with, the objects we encounter, and the places in which we live.

  • More defenestration photos
  • Flickr defenestration photos

    Location of the building:

    View Larger Map

  • Tuesday, July 8, 2008

    Palace of Fine Arts

    Palace of Fine Arts - a must visit place if you're visiting San Francisco. It was built more than some 90 years.

    The aura of the place is very attractive. It's fun to just sit and relax on one of those benches on the side of the lagoon. It's serene.

    While walking around the lagoon you almost always can encounter some birds around. The ducks, sea-gulls and pigeons are quite common ones.

    These swans have almost made a permanent home at this place.

    When I visited the place last year, I actually took time to see the artwork in more details as the company I was with had quite a lot of insight to share with me. That made it a fabulous visit. For example, these ones I found out were actually women and not men like I had first understood them to be. :P ok ok fine, I just thought that no shirt meant they were men, but sadly enough, when it comes to understanding art, the general principles don't always work. It turns out they are women and this you can tell from the way their bodies are sculpted in that stone.

    More artwork on these extra large pillars around the main dome.

    Tiny sloped hills covered with lawn surround the walk way around the lake.

    The lagoon and surrounding pillars.

    I think this would be one of the first places I'd shoot when I buy my first wide angle camera lens for better quality photos than this.

    The palace at night. The lighting makes it look just out of the world. You gotta look at it in person to feel it.

    And by the way, it is one of those special places in San Francisco where newly weds go to get their professional photos taken with beautiful studio-like backgrounds such as this one.

    Click here for more photos of Palace of Fine Arts.