Showcasing the heritage

Published : Nov 17, 2006 00:00 IST

The Ellora caves near Aurangabad. -

The Ellora caves near Aurangabad. -

FOR the past 20 years, the Ellora festival of dance and music has celebrated the glory of the centuries-old Ajanta-Ellora caves in Aurangabad district. The four-day festival is considered the largest such event conducted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation with an attendance of 10,000-plus a day. Renowned exponents of music and dance are invited to perform at the festival.

The festival used to be held at the Ellora Caves, but the venue was subsequently shifted to Soneri Mahal, the 17th century architectural marvel in Aurangabad.

In an evocative piece Dilip Shinde, Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) and Chief Coordinator who is responsible for the organisation of the festival, writes: "The earth of every place has its own fragrance. The fragrance of the earth of Marathwada is something else. Over the years this earth has been purified by the existence of numerous saints and great souls. From the third to seventh century this land experienced governance by Yadvas and Rashtrakutas at Devgiri. Dnyandeva's Girvan Vani emanated first from this very earth. Samarth Ramdas, Saint Janabai, Saint Namdeo all belong to this earth. The Paithani and Himroo styles of weaving are the region's specialities. Both date back a few centuries."

Shinde hopes that those who come to attend the festival will use Aurangabad as the base to explore nearby attractions such as the meteoric Lonar crater, the spiritual centres at Aundha, Parli, Grishneshwar and the Bibi Ka Maqbara, a replica of the Taj Mahal, built by Aurangazeb's son, and the fort of Daulatabad. Unlike other cultural festivals where local people feel excluded, the Ellora Festival makes a special effort to draw the locals. In fact, one of the reasons for shifting the venue to Aurangabad was to ensure their involvement.

"Our efforts are directed towards involving the local people and making this a people's festival." The decision was taken four years ago and now, under the guidance of Divisional Commissioner, Sanjay Kumar, the festival not only promotes culture but also brings economic benefits.

This year's attractions at the festival include Ustad Rashidkhan's vocal recital, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma's santoor recital, music by Shankar Mahadevana and Shivani, fusion music by Louis Banks and Karl Peter's SILK, gazals by Penaz Masani and lavani by Adittee Bhagwat.

A Special Corespondent
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