Most of us know that the Mumbai we see today is a city developed out of concrete connection of seven different islands of Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman’s Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel and Matunga – Sion. To its north lied the Salsette island which is where Borivli, Kandivli and mainly the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located today, where the Thane creek divided it from Thane and towards its north the Vasai creek would divide it from the Bassein island or today’s Vasai.
We must know that this city which has flourished today as the finance capital of India was once an important city in the Mauryan rule and for several other rulers that followed. The Kanheri, Jogeshwari, Mahakali and Gharapuri, more renowned as Elephanta caves, are all traced back to the ancient rulers starting from the Mauryans up to the Shilahars, so one may portray this city as a Buddhist philosophical center of the ancient India which evidently later also seems to have turned into an educational hub. But most of us fail to see the wider picture since we hardly consider that all these regions were not connected to each other by land at that time, as they are now.
The Kanheri cave complex which is located in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park of Borivli today is one such ancient monument which is visited by thousands of visitors every month without knowing the other side of the story of its ancient tradition. It belonged to Salsette or Sashthi Island.
The name ‘Kanheri’ comes from Krushnagiri or Kanhagiri which can literally be translated as ‘Black mountain’. As we all know, the entire Deccan plateau consists of Basalt rock which is black in color which seems to be a valid explanation for the name. So it is intriguing that why would someone travelling through land, name the mountain based on its appearance where every other mountain he is travelling through has the same phenomena. It has to be someone who comes from the sea to call it so and this suggests the Kanheri to be an ancient landmark for sea farers.
We travel such places of huge heritage and historic significance; however, we miss to observe around us. And what is travelling really, if you are not observing?
- Himali Nalawade