Since 1989, the Elephanta Festival has been held at the iconic caves off the coast of South Mumbai. This time though, various reasons have prompted the organisers, MTDC to move the event to a bigger, more accessible location — the Gateway of India.
Dilip Shinde, joint MD of MTDC explains, “There are many reasons why we’ve shifted the festival. Travelling to and fro by boat takes an hour and a half each way, and it’s not very safe at night. The lack of drinking water, food and frequent power failures have also become problems. Besides, we can only accommodate about 700 people there.”
Ask Shinde if he feels the move takes away the charm of the venue and he denies it strongly, saying, “The festival used to begin only post 7 pm, when the caves were barely visible. Those who were interested in exploring would have to visit during the day anyway.”
He also reveals that the change in location is part of a bigger expansion plan for the fest. “We’ve added many new events this time. In addition to the three night sessions, we will also have two morning ones, encompassing 12 events overall. The venue’s capacity has also increased, so we’re expecting a footfall of 3,000 this time,” Shinde says.
Among the performers this year are classical singers Parveen Sultana and Hariharan, percussionist Sivamani, and composers Rajan and Sajan Mishra.