Bang on the door! Knock on the door! Thump on the door! Still, nobody wants to open it for Anil, who specially came to wake us up :D. Eventually, Ravi got up to unbolt and slept again. What happened afterwards was neither a history nor anything unique, it was usual “get up from bed” drama happens at every other home everyday :P. Anyways, it was already 8:30 am and the target was to reach Elephanta Caves by 10:30 am, considering it to be a very crowded place.
The ticket booking counter was at the entrance of the Gateway of India complex. Anil stood in the queue to get the ferry tickets to the Elephanta Island and we got engrossed in the beauty of the Gateway of India(GOI), a monumental memento of British colonial rule over India. It took him around 30 minutes to get the tickets.
Whoopee! I was off to the island in an exotic ferry ride.
There are 2 types of ferries: the Luxury and Economy. The former cost Rs 150 and later Rs 120 for return ticket. First ferry leaves from the Gateway of India for Elephanta at 9 am and last at 2:30 pm. Similarly, the first return boat leaves at 12 noon and last at 5:30 pm. Typically there is one ferry leaving every 30 minutes from GOI to Elephanta and vice versa.
As the ferry left the coast, the breathtaking views of the Gateway of India, The Taj Mahal Palace and Mumbai harbor, left me dumbstruck. Ferry, a mode of transport, doesn’t often come to mind, though can take you to an interesting spots and help you skip the traffic snarls.
Snacks, cold drinks and water etc were served on the ferry at prices usually higher than the MRP with no negotiation. To climb up the upper deck, one need to bribe the ferry staff with 10-20 bucks.
En-route, I saw plenty of ships, freighter, mid-to-large boats, patrolling boats, and a few foreign ships as well. Mere 5 km short of Elephanta, we saw this island called The Butcher Island, where oil tankers from gulf countries are docked to unload Crude Oil, which then sent to BPCL and HPCL refineries at Trombay.
It took us almost an hour to reach the island. Traveling in a ferry to reach the island was an experience in itself. Here, we reached this small island dotted with numerous ancient archaeological remains.
We landed on the jetty at the Island, bought mini train tickets(Rs 10 pax) that took us to the main entrance. Bought another ticket to enter the Island(Rs 5 pax). On the way up to the caves, found small shops and hawkers selling souvenirs, artifacts, and handicrafts with a hint of the Elephanta caves. At the hill top just before entering the cave area, there was a booth to buy tickets for the caves(Rs 10 for Indians and around 200-300 for foreigners).
What an exquisite and vibrant sculptures! If you are an art lover, you would definitely gonna love this place a tad more. The six-meter-high Trimurthi sculpture, which features three faces of Lord Shiva, is the most prominent structure in the cave. Carvings on either side of it depict other manifestations of Shiva.
This trip to the caves took me back in time when faith, art, and romanticism were the basis of everyday life. But who created these spectacular sculptures and an architectural feast is still a mystery to me!
Elephanta to GOI
Luckily, this time we got the seats on the upper deck. Just few minutes into the flight and all of a sudden from nowhere in the middle of sea, a huge folk of a seagulls started accompanying our ferry, apparently in search of food. It was indeed the beautiful sight to see such curious creature preying upon anything thrown to them in air and they were successful in catching every bit of it without a single miss. Every photographer would love to capture the perfect shot of a seagull and so did Ravi.
These seagulls were chasing the ferry for almost half the way until it was dark enough for them to go back to their shelters or may be to get ready to accompany the flight the next day!
Near the popular shopping street Colaba Causeway, we found this place Cafe Mondegar, fascinating enough to spend the lovely evening. This vintage cafe with hilarious cartoons (murals) and catchy phrases on the walls by Mario Miranda will definitely gonna set you in a party mood. The ambiance was retro, yet electric with the best English songs of the ’80s and ’90s playing in the background.
Menu(pasted on the table) was packed with the Indian, Chinese, Continental, and variety of breakfast items. I observed that the serving plates were also embellished with the B&W pictures of cafe. The Food was authentic and delicious, no doubt but the portion size was small. My verdict- this is definitely a place to relax, chill and reset life.
People say “if u have been to Colaba and never paid a visit to Cafe Mondegar or Cafe Leopold at least once, then its unfair to your journey to Mumbai”.
CST to Kalina
Walking down the streets of Colaba, we reached this very famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Any guesses? That was none other than CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). The entrance gates to CST was flanked by the figures of tiger and lion, representing India and Great Britian respectively. CST is definitely an epitome of heritage for the city. Anil bought tickets to Kalina. By the way, I had started liking the Mumbai Local by that time.
We reached manager’s flat in an hour or so. “Let’s check out the pics we clicked today”, I said excitedly. Guys shook their head and then turned a deaf ear. So Weird. Men are so strange sometimes, who can understand them! Nevertheless, atleast they agreed for UNO and we played 3-4 round of it with soothing music in the background before sleeping.
FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT THE PLACE
Elephanta Caves : It is among the most popular destinations in Mumbai. So, it is advisable to visit the place early in the morning to avoid rush and waiting time. It remains closed on Monday.
Alibaug : The ferry will take you to Mandwa in 45 minutes for Rs 110 to Rs 150 and from there you can go to Alibaug (a popular beach getaway) in a bus with no additional cost. One can follow this link for more interesting ferry rides near Mumbai- Ferry tales.
Mondegar Cafe: Mondy’s offers its merchandise (like mugs, dish etc) which is a must buy both as a souvenir and as a gesture for the love it is going to offer.
The Elephanta island was definitely a place to get lost in the beauty of art. More than that, the ferry ride to the caves was way beyond the imagination. It reminded me of lines Manjil se behtar lagne lage hai yeh raastein from soundtrack “hum jo chalne lage hai”. Other than that, who can forgot those beautiful creatures who accompanied us like an old friend from far away. Besides, Mumbai never missed a chance to charm us with its authentic taste and this time it was Mondy’s which gave perfect end to a spectacular day.
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