19 December 2010

Protecting our past - a photostory

Immortal past
Shot in Main Cave, Elephanta Island, Mumbai

The light here was low in the cave, the dynamic range high with bright sunlight filtering in from the side entrance. It wasn't crowded but I wanted to have only one or two persons in my frame to provide a sense of scale. I waited for 10 minutes before I managed to get this frame. The image is shot handheld from a low angle at widest angle possible with my 1855 mm kit lens. I exposed the image for the interiors at cost of burning the outside view from the side (but then i didnt care much about that anyways). Also you will note that due to low light, i opted for maximum aperture and shot at fairly low shutter speed. One could argue why I didnt push up the ISO, well i have to admit i dont get clean images at ISO 800 with my cam.  I am pleased with this since I got the results I wanted. This was my 2nd visit to Elephanta but first as a photographer and I have to admit, i now feel i need to go there again to soak in more of this wonderful site from our past 
Exif Data
Exposure 1/5 sec
Aperture f/3.5
ISO 400
Focal length 18 mm

Elephanta caves, are set of Hindu and Buddhist caves situated on Elephanta Island (known as 'Gharpuri') , some 10 miles east of Mumbai, actually on the mainland. The history of this cave is estimated to be 5th - 8th AD, however the origin is unknown. The locals believe that these caves are not manmade!! 

The known history is traced only to the defeat of Mauryan rulers of Konkan by the Badami Chalukyan emperor Pulakesi II (609–642) in a naval battle, in 635 AD.

The cave is a monolithic basalt structure and its only some wild imagination can conjure how this would have been built. The grand pillars, some of them with ugly patch work (recent repairs) stand strong even though most of the rock cut carvings have suffered significant damage believed to be caused by Portugese army who used this for,"could you believe" target practice!!

The caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 as per the cultural criteria of UNESCO: the caves "represent a masterpiece of human creative genius" and "bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared". Now, this past heritage probably has better chance of survival and our generations will get to see this marvels from the past.

As I post this my thoughts are for other heritages which will not be able to survive and fall prey to destruction by human race a la 'Bamiyan Buddhas by Taliban in 2001"

Some travel tips for  Elephanta?

Ferry rides from Gateway of India is available every 30 mins or so. However, the last ferry for return from Elephanta Islands at 530 pm and you would need at least 2 hours to explore the main cave. The ride will take you a minimum of 1 hour one side so plan accordingly. It is quiet hot at the island,  (not sure why), and the climb up the hill to the caves could be tiresome. You would easily get water & refreshments at the island along with other trinket and timepass shopping. Beware of the monkeys, who can be quiet nasty if they sense you carrying food around. Here is one who decided to grab a drink. 

There is a small museum on the hill, which i would recommend a visit as it is a good way to understand the history of the place. You could also hire a guide , can get one for Rs 150/-. Its worth spending as he would help you understand the intricate rock carvings which you would otherwise miss. 

You must be wondering why is this place called "Elephanta" when there are no signs of any elephants here. 

The Portuguese named the island "Elephanta Island" in honour of a huge rock-cut black stone statue of an elephant that was then installed on a mound, a short distance east of Gharapuri village. The elephant now sits in the Jijamata Udyaan zoo in Mumbai


Siddhartha Joshi said...

Very interesting travelogues...enjoyed it completely! I have planned a trip to Elephanta so many times, somehow it always got shelved...

Maybe next time I am in Mumbai, I would be lucky :)

mayank said...

Siddharth - thanks for visit and liking the way I look at mumbai. Elephanta is a must go to my mind.

Wathsalaukwatta said...

so Mumbai is not only street , liked it very much and a nice photograph too :-) Elephanta caves made me interesting , I like history :-)

mayankpandey said...

Thanks @fb591b114b49f3475430d74511268f3c and welcome to my blog. A place which I hope will help curate good streetphotography work. I like writing so write a bit more than photographers usually do. :)