We arrived this morning at the culmination of this years voyage: Mumbai. It is hot, smokey/foggy and humid but we are ready! For the past 2 days all we saw on the ocean was fog so this is not too much of a change 🙂 This is the first port where we had a greeting upon arrival, the Mumbai Police Band.
We chose a tour this morning: Elephanta Caves. It is a 1 hour ferry ride to the island, then a short train ride and finally 112 steps to get to the caves. The harbour is huge and so there are many gates providing access. Unfortunately only 1 gate now provides vehicular access, a result of the 2008 attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel and others. To us it just gives more of an overview of this part of the city before we are off on our own.
Work starts after 0930 in this city so the traffic is apparently quite reasonable as we head to the Gateway of India. We pass several of the landmark old buildings; the Police Station, Prince of Wales Museum (1911), etc.
The ferries are just like you see on TV. The process of getting on is fascinating, as we have to pass through one ferry to get to ours. Lots of shouting and gesturing are involved. We head off with no visible sign of our destination, just a very large number of ships to navigate past. Along the way we see freighters, a car ferry, the MS Amsterdam, a fortified island and very large oil tankers unloading.
The caves are stunning. Cut into the mountain somewhere between 450AD and 750AD, the basalt was chipped away over a period of 100 years. A massive feat in itself but the stone sculpture inside was incredible. This is a temple to Shiva, one of the 3 Hindu gods. In the Hindu religion it is possible for one god to take on the roles of the others so here there are various views of that. The sculptures show Shiva and his beloved Parvati in their Himalayan abode. The main sculpture in the back of the cave is unique in India. The Maheshmurti is a 20 ft tall rock-cut Shiva with three heads (Shiva the destroyer, Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver). It is surprisingly the only sculpture not damaged. This is a World Heritage site for obvious reasons. There are 3 other sets of caves but unfortunately we are limited in our time. In the process of finding them we did see some of the monkeys that live on the island.
The Portuguese had found the island in the 1700’s, saw a stone elephant near their landing site and thus named the island, expecting to see elephants. There weren’t any. For no apparent reason they felt the need to haul cannon up to the mountain and destroy the statues. The cannon could not be depressed (before that invention) so thankfully for us only the bottom of the statues were destroyed.
The temple is no longer active, except for once a year. But the site is still a major draw for Hindus around the world.
Pat does some bargaining on the way back down, we are late for our train so have to walk but still arrive at the ferry in time to avoid delays. The trip back is a little less foggy so we get better better photos of the Gateway.
We spent the rest of the day sorting through the accumulated stuff in the cabin and pack. The ship provided a good weigh scale on deck 3, and surprisingly we are in good shape with luggage weight. We weighed ourselves as well and an even bigger surprise, we didn’t gain as much weight as we had thought! Hoorah, off to get an ice cream cone!