a. n.p. An island in Bombay Harbour, the native name of which is Gharapuri (or sometimes,
it would seem, shortly, Puri), famous for its magnificent excavated temple, considered by Burgess to
date after the middle of the 8th cent. The name was given by the Portuguese from the life-size figure
of an elephant, hewn from an isolated mass of trap-rock, which formerly stood in the lower part of the
island, not far from the usual landing-place. This figure fell down many years ago, and was often said to
have disappeared. But it actually lay in situ till 1864-5, when (on the suggestion of the late Mr. W. E.
Frere) it was removed by Dr. (now Sir) George Birdwood to the Victoria Gardens at Bombay, in order to
save the relic from destruction. The elephant had originally a smaller figure on its back, which several of
the earlier authorities speak of as a young elephant, but which Mr. Erskine and Capt. Basil Hall regarded
as a tiger. The horse mentioned by Fryer remained in 1712; it had disappeared apparently before Niebuhrs
visit in 1764. [Compare the recovery of a similar pair of elephant figures at Delhi, Cunningham, Archaeol.
Rep. i. 225 seqq.]
c. 1321.In quod dum sic ascendissem, in xxviii. dietis me transtuli usque ad Tanam
haec terra multum
bene est situata.
Haec terra antiquitus fuit valde magna. Nam ipsa fuit terra regis Pori, qui cum rege
Alexandro praelium maximum commisit.Friar Odoric, in Cathay, &c., App. p. v.
We quote this because
of its relation to the passages following. It seems probable that the alleged connection with Porus and
Alexander may have grown out of the name Puri or Pori.
[1539.Mr. Whiteway notes that in João de
Crastros Log of his voyage to Diu will be found a very interesting account with measurements of the
1548.And the Isle of Pory, which is that of the Elephant (do Alyfante), is leased
to João Pirez by arrangements of the said Governor (dom João de Crastro) for 150 pardaos.S. Botelho,
1580.At 3 hours of the day we found ourselves abreast of a cape called Bombain, where
is to be seen an ancient Roman temple, hollowed in the living rock. And above the said temple are
many tamarind-trees, and below it a living spring, in which they have never been able to find bottom.
The said temple is called Alefante, and is adorned with many figures, and inhabited by a great multitude
of bats; and here they say that Alexander Magnus arrived, and for memorial thereof caused this temple
to be made, and further than this he advanced not.Gasparo Balbi, f. 62v.-63.
1598.There is yet
an other Pagode, which they hold and esteem for the highest and chiefest Pagode of all the rest, which
standeth in a little Iland called Pory; this Pagode by the Portingalls is called the Pagode of the Elephant.
In that Iland standeth an high hill, and on the top thereof there is a hole, that goeth down into the hill,
digged and carved out of the hard rock or stones as big as a great cloyster
round about the wals are
cut and formed, the shapes of Elephants, Lions, tigers, & a thousand such like wilde and cruel beasts.
ch. xliv.; [Hak. Soc. i. 291].
1616.Diogo de Couto devotes a chapter of 11 pp. to his
detailed account do muito notarel e espantoso Pagode do Elefante. We extract a few paragraphs:
notable and above all others astonishing Pagoda of the Elephant stands on a small islet, less than
half a league in compass, which is formed by the river of Bombain, where it is about to discharge itself
southward into the sea. It is so called because of a great elephant of stone, which one sees in entering
the river. They say that it was made by the orders of a heathen king called Banasur, who ruled the whole
country inland from the Ganges.
On the left side of this chapel is a doorway 6 palms in depth and 5 in
width, by which one enters a chamber which is nearly square and very dark, so that there is nothing to
be seen there; and with this ends the fabric of this great pagoda. It has been in many parts demolished; and
what the soldiers have left is so maltreated that it is grievous to see destroyed in such fashion one of
the Wonders of the World. It is now 50 years since I went to see this marvellous Pagoda; and as I did
not then visit it with such curiosity as I should now feel in doing so, I failed to remark many particulars
which exist no longer. But I do remember me to have seen a certain Chapel, not to be seen now, open
on the whole façade (which was more than 40 feet in length), and which along the rock formed
a plinth the whole length of the edifice, fashioned like our altars both as to breadth and height; and on
this plinth were many remarkable things to be seen. Among others I remember to have noticed the
story of Queen Pasiphae and the bull; also the Angel with naked sword thrusting forth from below a tree
two beautiful figures of a man and a woman, who were naked, as the Holy Scripture paints for us the
appearance of our first parents Adam and Eve.Couto, Dec. VII. liv. iii. cap. xi.
an islet which
they call Ilheo do Ellefanté.
In the highest part of this Islet is an eminence on which there is a mast
from which a flag is unfurled when there are prows (paros) about, as often happens, to warn the small