Next in my series is Elephanta Festival, Mumbai scheduled for February 16 – 17, 2016
The experience of the festival which usually sees local as well as foreign tourists, begins with a ride across the Arabian Sea from Gate of India to the mystical, rock – cut elephant caves. The caves with Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and lovely stone Apsaras will come alive with Ashok Hande’s Marathi Bana and performances of Grammy winning Hindustani classical Instrumentalist , Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Pop-Rock artist Kailash Kher on Day 1. The next day, while Hindustani classical music vocalist Pt. Santee Abhyankar, Roop Kumar Rathod and Sonali Rathod will fill the air with music, Yasmin Singh takes the stage for Kathak. There’s going to be painting competition too.
Elephanta festival is organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) to promote Mumbai tourism and culture. It is one of the most prominently celebrated festivals in Mumbai. This renowned festival is held on the Elephanta Island, adjacent to the Elephanta Cave, a World Heritage Site. The Island is located at a distance of ten kilometres from Mumbai Harbour and there are regular launch services from there to Elephanta Island. The initial name of the Elephanta caves was Gharapuri which means, ‘peaceful living place of lord Shiva’. The name Elephanta Cave was given by Portuguese, after a carved elephant found on this island. The festival, which is a feast of dance and music, is conducted in the month of February every year transforming the entire island into a huge auditorium. Set in the backdrop of huge pillars and sculptured panels on the walls of the temple in the Island, the festival is dedicated to the varied classical music and dance forms of India.
The highlight of the festival that started in 1989 is the illuminated Maheshmurti (Shiva idol) located in the main cave of the Elephanta Island. The idol is lit up at night, providing an amazing backdrop to the entire setting. Over the years, the festival has become a huge attraction for Mumbaikars as well as for the domestic and foreign tourists. The temple also has huge pillars which intensify the whole festive ambiance. The cyclopean auditorium where the dances are performed is decorated with lights along with a decorated idol of lord Shiva.
The festival, which starts with a warm welcome comprising of traditional tunes of the native fishermen folk, features performances of eminent artistes on an aesthetically erected stage. Wonderfully illuminated Maheshmurti cave, bright lights and delicious ethnic food make this festival a truly unforgettable experience.
Visitors can reach the Elephanta Island through a boat from the Gateway of India which is a one-and-a-half hour’s journey. During the festival, special launch services are provided for the visitors.
Elephanta festival is indeed a feast for the art lovers