Monday, March 16, 2015

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part V - Mumbai, The Maximum City (Day 3 & 4)

As I wrote earlier, I wanted to visit BSE on a working day. So I walked from CST and reached BSE building. To my disappointment, there was hardly any chaos or scenes like traders running around in hurry. Calm and quiet building; surroundings were equally calm. Only difference on that working day was, BSE was open, and employees - wearing their tags - were frequently coming in and out.
After spending some time there, I walked towards ‘Gateway of India’ to catch a boat to Elephanta. Ticket cost was 160 INR. By the way, Elephanta Island is located some 10km away from Gateway. I boarded a boat and slowly started our journey towards the caves.
It was an interesting journey through Arabian Sea. Apart from being the biggest city of India, Mumbai also have one of the biggest harbors in India. On both sides, there were ships waiting to enter the harbor; oil tankers emptying out their stomach to big oil storage tanks located at Butcher Island.
After a while the journey becomes monotonous. This lasted till we reach somewhat close to the island. From there onward birds joined us till Island’s jetty. There is a toy train running from the jetty till the steps (ticket - 10 INR). From here one has to climb a lot of steps to reach the entrance to the caves. Vendors selling souvenirs are located on both sides of the steps.
Finally I climbed last of those steps and reached in front of the white board indicating ‘Elephanta Caves’, a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
History of Elephanta (aka Gharapuri in Marathi)
The debate is still on the question of who built the caves at Elephanta. It can be Konkan Mauryas, Kalacuris, Chalukyas or Rashtrkutas.
The Portuguese named the island "Elephanta Island" in honour of a huge rock-cut black stone statue of an elephant that was then installed on a mound, a short distance east of Gharapuri village. The elephant now sits in the Jijamata Udyaan zoo in Mumbai” - Wikipedia
Many accuse Portuguese as the main culprits for the destruction of these caves - “Portuguese soldiers used the reliefs of Shiva in the main cave for target practice, sparing only the Trimurti sculpture. They also removed an inscription related to the creation of the caves.” - Wikipedia.
Apart from first cave, there were hardly any statues/carvings or rock works on other caves. After spending some time on first cave; I just checked other nearby caves, but skipped caves on other side of the hill (there were some renovation work going on there.
I was so hungry that, I had a veg biriyani from a hotel located in the island. That was one of the worst Veg biriyani I ever had; and I believe that, it was the reason behind by stomach sickness started from next day.
Naval Area
While coming back to Gateway, one can get a good view of naval area. A number of naval ships were docked there. One is not allowed to point their camera in that direction and take photographs!!!
Vile Parle
On the way back, I met a couple of localites who was standing on a queue to board a boat to Alibagh. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time left; hence I politely declined the offer and went back to CST. Probably on another day…
There wasn’t any plan for the afternoon. So I thought of having some good street food. After going through some food related articles, finally decided to try street foods along western line, starting from Vile Parle. Needless to say, Vada Pav from there was really tasty.
Mumbai Monorail
After trying metro, I decided to try monorail as well. At the time of writing this article Mumbai monorail is operating from Ghatkopper to Wadala. A skywalk from Ghatkopper station took me to Monorail station. This is a combination of Metro and Mumbai local. A journey through excellent air conditioned coaches at local’s ticket rate. I believe that, constructed and operated by government agency, this is going to become another white elephant. At this ticket rate, Monorail may never breakeven or generate profits.
Last stop for Mono rail was at ‘Wadala Road’ and I got down there. Security guards at station told me that, GTB station is closer than Wadala. I walked and walked, but GTB was nowhere in sight.
This is a big problem in Mumbai (and later in Gujarat as well). People often say a place is very close and I start walking, only to discover later that the destination is quite far away. So whenever someone tells you that a place is close, never rely on that info!!! Check in maps and board some bus or hire a taxi!!!
Finally I reached GTB station and boarded next train to Seawoods.
Next day, veg biriyani - from Elephanta - showed her real face I wasn’t able to wake up properly form bed.
That was my last day in Mumbai. For all those days I was staying at Ammu Chechi’s home with Ammu chechi, Setuettan and Saju. As a matter of fact, I was seeing them after a very long time. All those moments were really great and enjoyable. Without their help the journey would never have been so easy and comfortable.
To Vadodara
Setuettan came all the way to Seawood Station to drop me. From there I went to Kurla Station, and then in an auto to Bandra Terminus through ‘Bandra Kurla Complex’. It was a place I wanted to visit for a long time. In that night, I was able to see the board of NSE building along with so many other famous names in the industry.
I reached Bandra Terminus just on time; therefore I had to run through platforms and tracks to reach Avadh express. Fortunately, I was able to make it.


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