Elephanta festival to resume 9 years after 26/11

Elephanta festival to resume 9 years after 26/11

Nine years after the 26/11 terror attacks, the famous Elephanta Festival is back in Mumbai's event calendar

The 29th edition of the Elephanta Festival would be held on January 27 and 28, the coming weekend, hosted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

The festival was a annual feature - however, post the fidayeen attacks in Mumbai from 26-29 November, 2008, during which the terrorists used the Arabian Sea to enter Mumbai - the festival was suspended because of security concerns.

To be held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the festival originally commenced in 1989 and is considered one of the most prominent festivals of the state which showcase dance, music and art in all its glory.

"The artists will interpret the different art forms and will also revive its eternal significance. The Elephanta Festival is the replication of the Maharashtrian culture, with vibrant colours, customs and traditions which depict the diversity of state's rich culture and legacy," Tourism and Employment Guarantee Scheme Minister Jaykumar Rawal said.

The Elephanta Island, the venue for festival is located around seven nautical miles off the Gateway of India and is a popular tourist destination. Administratively, it comes under the Uran taluka of Raigad district of Maharashtra.

The Elephanta Island or Gharapuri has three villages - Shetbandar, Morabandar and Rajbandar. The local population is engaged in cultivating rice, fishing and boat repairing besides tourism-related income. The island is spread over 16 sq kms. orest growth with clusters of mango, tamarind, and karanj trees cover the hills with scattered palm trees. Rice fields are seen in the valley.

In ancient period, the place is variously identified as Puri which is mentioned in the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II. It seems, different dynasties held their sway over this island, namely, the Konkan-Mauryas, Trikutakas, Chalukyas of Badami, Silaharas, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Yadavas of Deogiri, Muslim rulers of Ahmedabad and then by the Portuguese. The Marathas also had this island under their control and from them it passed into the control of the British.

There are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group and these are datable from circa 6th 7th centuries A.D. Among the cave excavations, the Cave 1 is the most impressive which represents the evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture. The cave is also famous for the exquisite and vibrant sculptures and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

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