Island sights in India
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Some tourists pay a fortune to spot rare golden langurs in Bhutan's national parks. Yet at Umananda Mandir these loveable monkeys often loiter at the gates, politely soliciting snacks from devotees. This Shiva temple complex sits on a prettily forested river-island, accessed by a 36-seater Umanda Mandir cruise boats. The boats depart when full (roughly half-hourly) from Kachari Ghat which itself offers attractive afternoon riverviews.
In the middle of Mumbai Harbour, 9km northeast of the Gateway of India, the rock-cut temples on Elephanta Island are a Unesco World Heritage Site and worth crossing the waters for. Home to a labyrinth of cave-temples carved into the basalt rock of the island, the artwork represents some of the most impressive temple carving in all of India. The main Shiva-dedicated temple is an intriguing latticework of courtyards, halls, pillars and shrines, with the magnum opus a 6m-tall statue of Sadhashiva – depicting a three-faced Shiva as the destroyer, creator and preserver of the universe. The enormous central bust of Shiva, its eyes closed in eternal contemplation, may be the…