Lunch Hour at the Temple Caves

The Village of Caves: photo 7 by Thomas Brandenburg

It’s summer, and I imagine myself going there again. Taking the 10-kilometer boat ride from Mumbai harbor and feeling the intense heat not even the sea breeze can give relief. I am stepping off the boat onto a small two hill island. Crossing the long pier, dripping with sweat I climbed the steep stairs leading to the first mouth of the caves. The architectural facade transformed it. I pass through the ancient pillars entering the otherworldly—taking in the dank, dark stillness. Here the monolithic stone sculptures were carved out from the rock of the caves. They were still majestic despite their shattered heads or limbs. This figurative collection of Hindu iconography dates back to the 5th and 9th century. The most impressive sculpture was in the grand cave, a 20 foot Trimurti Sadashiva, three-faced Shiva, Nataraja (Lord of dance) and Yogishvara (Lord of Yoga).

It was recorded later in history that then the Christian Portuguese soldiers discovered the temple caves they used them as a firing range and target practice.

In 1970 the caves were restored, and today they are UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are known as the Gharapuri, Village of Caves.