Venue: Elephanta Islands, near Mumbai (Maharashtra)
Duration: Two Days
Highlights: Performances by talented folk artists and famous dancers along with food festival
The Elephanta Festival is celebrated every year in the month of February, on the Elephanta Island. The island is situated at a distance of almost 10 kilometers from Mumbai harbor. This island is renowned for an ancient shrine of Lord Shiva, which was unearthed somewhere around the 6th century. Earlier, the cave shrine was known as 'Gharapuri', which means the peaceful living place of Lord Shiva. However with the arrival of the Portuguese, the caves were renamed as the 'Elephanta Caves', when they saw the carved elephant on the island. The temple has nine beautifully sculptured panels which portray changing moods of the deity along with huge pillars. Magical interplay of lights and shades falling on the sculptures make them look mystical and beautiful. The main cave of the idol is adorned with a huge illuminated 'Maheshmurti' (Idol of Lord Shiva). During the Elephanta Music & Dance Festival, the entire island turns into a large auditorium, where skilled musicians and dancers from all over the country come and perform.
The Elephanta Festival was started in the year 1989. The Vedas and Upanishads tell that the attempt of Lord Brahma, creating human being was fruitless as he only created the male species. After realizing his mistake, he went to Lord Shiva, who was having the supremacy to become 'Ardhanarishwar' which means half woman and half God respectively. From here originated the idea of female species and reproduction. The sculptures at Elephanta caves speak about the contrasting gender components of the Lord Shiva. Apart from this, they also gives the message that gender difference is balanced and controlled within a single being called 'soul'.
Types of Dances
Talented musicians and traditional dancers from all over the country come here to perform. Mainly the festival starts with a traditional welcome in which folk dances are performed by local fishermen in the catchy tunes of 'Koli' (fisher folk). Other performances like plays, skits, and classical dances, instrumental and vocal recitals are also presented. Performers give mesmerizing performances. The Elephanta Festival saw the performances of popular artists such as Ananda Shankar Jayant (Kuchipudi), Dr. Neena Prasad (Mohiniattam), Mrs. Shallu Jindal (Kuchipudi), Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar (Vocal) and Ustad. Zakir Hussain (Tabla).
Spread of Festival
Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), Elephanta Music & Dance Festival serves as a great place of attraction for the local population of Mumbai as well as the neighboring cities. At the same time, domestic as well as international tourists come to attend this festival. The seats for audience are under open sky. All this gives a great feeling and makes the atmosphere perfect for cultural festival. Along with the performances of the famous artists, the ethnic food stalls attracts the audience. This festival organized by MTDC bring back the golden moments of our glorious past.
Mumbai Tourist Attractions
In Mumbai other sites to visit are the Gateway of India located on the waterfront in South Mumbai. Next to it are the Taj Mahal Palace and Taj Intercontinental hotels, which are significant landmarks. Furthermore, you can also visit the historic Prince of Wales Museum and the splendid Hanging Gardens, which presents a picturesque vista of the city. However, no tour can be complete if you do not explore the lively beaches of the city. Out of the beaches, Chowpatty Beach, situated at the northern end of Marine drive, is the most popular one amongst people of all age groups. Strangely, it is more popular for the food option rather than sunbathing or swimming. Wrap it off by visiting the Marine Drive- a skillfully laid-out boulevard in South Mumbai which is home to many art deco buildings and forwards a spectacular landscape.
How To Reach
By Air: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the aerodrome in Mumbai that connects the city with all the domestic and international cities. Regular flights operate to and from the airport.
By Rail: Mumbai has an extensive network of railways that connects the city with the rest of the cities in the country. While the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal is the major railhead, there are other railway stations at Bombay Central, Churchgate, Dadar and Kurla. Inter and intra city trains operate on a regular basis.
By Road: Mumbai, being one of the four metropolitan cities of India, is very well connected through road, with National Highways 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 17 passing through the city, making it accessible from all parts of the country.