Mumbai… Economic Capital of India…City of dreams….Land of seven islands…city with lots of names.
It was my childhood dream to visit Mumbai as we always had a peculiar respect for the place and for the people who come from Bombay. Arrey, Woh Bombay se aayahain…!! This used to be our expression (or reaction) then. Luckily I got a chance to visit Mumbai for my colleague’s wedding.
That was 24th December night I started from Hubli and reached Borivilli around 8.30 where my friend cum colleague from Mumbai, Mithun came to receive me. We both joined by another “guest to Mumbai” Imran, moved towards “Charkop”, where Mithun’s family reside. He had arranged our stay in his home.
After having tasteful breakfast prepared by Mithun’s mother, we 4 i.e. Mithun, Imran, Neha and I left for Mumbai darshan and this was the first time ever I travelled in the life line of Mumbai i.e. local trains of Mumbai, which I had seen only in Bollywood movies. I was astonished by crowded trains, any newcomer to Mumbai will get lost in the rush to train there. These train timings are perfect in terms of arrival or the time it stays in junction. We reached Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST) which is 2nd most visited place after Tajmahal (as I read once). We could clearly see the European architectures all over the terminal that symbolised how old the building was. It was this point where our Mobile cameras started their actual work! Pics.. Pics and pics.. We could also glance the BMC nothing but Municipal Corporation of Mumbai. Almost all the buildings aged backed to British era and hence the design on those also indicated the same.
We spent some time shopping on Fashion Street before we stood in front of Gateway of India that was getting ready for Republic day celebration next day. I was not so amazed by its Architecture but still the monument was “Mumbai’s shaan”. Since it was the weekend we had to be in a long queue which seemed to be never-ending initially, for at least one hour. From there around 2pm, we started our quite long journey to Elephanta in a small ferry. We saw many ships and buildings belonged to the navy in our way. We never knew we had to walk for few miles for about 45 minutes getting up hundreds of stairs finally to reveal the beauty of Elephanta that is silently hidden underneath the mountains, surrounded by the sea. I got welcomed by the beautiful craftworks, idols, stone cutting and many more handmade things on the way to the caves.
I don’t think I will ever forget the pleasure that I experienced within me when my eyes perceived the beauty of the Elephanta. As we were very late than our expected time and hence we had to hurry up else the gates would have been closed. There were 5 caves in total and the cave 1 was the biggest and most beautiful of all that is what I felt. We had only studied in the textbook about the Elephanta caves which were built during “Rashtrakutas” and a famous “Trimurthi” of this place. But when I saw this place, I felt like I had seen only a rose then but now I’m in a garden of more beautiful flowers. Such beautifully constructed place it was. We can never believe that the whole cave was carved out of a huge rock. Who bothered to come to this island and carve such a mighty stone to showcase Hindu mythology from their skills..!! Most of the sculptures were contorted but still we could imagine the glory once it had exhibited in it. We all were awestruck at the marvellous transformation made in a stone finally to arrive at such a huge sculpture. Still there were 4 more caves to cover which were on the other side of the mountain and we had to hurry up. As we moved we saw a water reservoir constructed somewhere down the mountains which managed to catch our attention with its beauty. Rest of the caves mostly had “shiva lingam” and big “gharbagudis” around it. When I saw last cave I felt like it was stopped during the construction as the carving in stones seemed incomplete. I feel this was constructed when the downfall of this great empire started. In my opinion, we could see the amalgamation of Hindu and Buddhist style of architecture here at one place. Since we didn’t have any guide or guiding book we couldn’t relate much of the information to what we saw. Though we were not completely satisfied we had to move to the other end where there were two big canons and beautiful view of Mumbai sea-shore. Beneath the canons, there were dark rooms to accommodate large number of soldiers. This looked quite modern setup and probably this was built after European invasion during British time or so. After waiting for long time in queue, we were finally sitting on the last set of ferries that came to take us back to Gateway of Mumbai. Cool breeze embraced us as we saw the Mumbai sea-shore decorated with shining lights.
Our next plan was to see the Mumbai night from “Marine drive” and I was wondering at the placement of big concrete moulds put there to reduce the impact of mighty tides. While returning we also saw the tricolour reflecting on the BSE building miles away from us. Flora fountain nearby “Hutaathma Chowk” also came in our way to home. It looks like Mumbai never sleeps. We reached around 12 at night but still it didn’t seem so. And thanks to Mumbai people who are always ready to help with directions. J
It was our second day in Mumbai after a comfortable night at my friend’s place. We had to attend our colleague’s marriage but before that the plan was to visit Haji-Ali dargah. Thanks to the Mumbai traffic, our failed hunt for gift and bouquet and the rush in dargah, that we were unexpectedly late, forget the marriage but also the reception that was in Andheri. We decided to see one final place in Mumbai around Andheri itself and that was Juhu beach. It was a beautiful but quite untidy beach with a lot of visitors. Our last set of photo sessions were going on before we left the beach around 4pm. While returning we saw too many Big B fan waiting outside his Juhu bungalow and the security person was trying to send them away.
Finally this trip gave me few good memories, new experience and a sweet sister Nihau. . I should stress on the hospitality Mithun and his family members showed to us. Even the richest city Mumbai’s richness can’t match the “richness of the heart” of these people.
The author is from Puttur of Karnataka and is a design engineer at Sankalp Semiconductors and this is his travel account of his first trip to Mumbai.