The academy had encroached upon on our Sunday also. They had planned a visit to Elephanta caves as part of our second group activity. And that too on a Sunday. Having visited Elephanta atleast 4 times, I was not particularly interested in doing this. However, being paid from the tax payers money for doing my job, my ethical side exhorted me to join the group.
I should tell you that this is a particularly revolting aspect of your training. There are people in our batch who bunk the classes during attachment and also skip these visits thinking all of it beneath them. They tend to forget the fact that you are being paid from taxpayers money to attend these classes and outings. Under the watchful eyes of our directors in the academy they act the good kid, preach high morals and take the high ground. However, left to themselves they don’t find it in the least in themselves to attend these classes. If you work hard to make it to the civil services, I urge that you take the job, that you worked so hard to get, seriously.
Coming back to the trip, we started off with the people in attendance at Eight. The people from PAG, Mumbai office had made all arrangements. We were to take the boat from Apollo Bunder ( where the Gateway of India majestically stands) and reach Gharapuri island where the Caves are situated.
Elephanta caves, which takes it name from the huge Elephant statue that was situated at the entrance of the caves, is something that every Indian should visit atleast once. The Elephant statue has since long been removed and if I remember correctly is situated in the Chhatrapathi Shivaji Vasthu Sangrahalaya ( or is it the National museum, New Delhi?). The caves have achieved UNESCO world heritage status, thanks to the majestic Maheshmurti statue. This is something that I need to explain in a little bit detail here.
The trinity concept is something that many major religions of the world subscribe to. Maheshmurti statue also depicts the trinity. Situated in Cave no.1 in elephanta, this larger than life statue depicts three faces of Shiva ( not the trinity of Hinduism). The youthful and pleasant Shiva who looks to the right side is a creator. You can see life brimming on his face. The straight looking preserver face, with full lips and calm demeanour is something that you can keep looking at for a long time. There is something in the way that it is sculpted that gives you a sense of inner peace. He holds a coconut which is a symbol of goodness. The third face is the moustached, bearded and angry Shiva who is set to destroy everything that is in his path. Wound around his neck and his hand are snakes which reflects something venomous in his nature. This older, angry and destructive Shiva face completes the trinity.
There are 9 panels and a room with Shivalinga in Cave no 1. The other panels are Ardhanarishvara, Nataraja, Gangadhara, Uma maheswara murti, Ravana lifting Kailasa, Andhakarasura vadha, Shiva-Parvati and Yogishvara. My second favourite panel after the Trimurti statue is the Andhakarasuravadha. In fact, I felt that the fierceness of Shiva has been captured in a much better manner in this panel than the destroyer face of Trimurti.
Having lived in Shimla, where you regularly climb up and down the mountains, the flight of steps that led from the foothills to the top of Gharapuri island felt like a breeze. I barely panted. I patted myself in the mind for the small accomplishment. After visiting the main cave, I headed to the Chalukya restaurant that is just opposite the gate to look at the city of dreams from a distance.
We bid goodbye to Mumbai tomorrow. There is an introduction to the Securities market at SEBI in the morning followed by a visit to the PAG office Mumbai. I hope to visit the fashion street to buy some superhero T-shirts if time permits. Every single time I come to Mumbai, it takes a part of me. May be I take some of Mumbai in my heart. Or I leave some of my heart here. I think that is what makes it the greatest city on earth.