Maharashtra:Mumbai - A Travel Guide, Part 3

 

 Continued from Mumbai Part 2

The Elephanta Caves: A Complete Description:


The doorway of the Elphanta caves, located at an elevation of 75 meters, can be accessed crossing 125 stairways. Riding on a toy train from the wharf to the entrance of the cave would be an enticing experience for the hordes of holiday makers. The cave has been maintained by the archeological department but due to dearth of sunlight the floor of the cave remains wet most of the times. Even though the volume of the Ellora cave is greater than Elephants but if you are concerned about the prettiness and architectural flair then the Elephanta cave wins the race on any given day. It is an evidence of Brahmanya architecture. The name of Elephanta had been given by Portuguese merchants. Two grand elephant idols used to be there at the wharf to greet all the visitors previously. One of these two elephants was destroyed by the vicious and wicked Portuguese. The second elephant idol was shifted to the Victoria Garden in 1864. A horse idol, made up of marbles, was also there. Many know the Elephanta Island as Gharapuri as almost 1500 Ghara Brahmins stay on the premise of Elephanta Island.


Carved during 450-750 by the Hindu emperor 2ndPulakeshi out of stony hills, the Cave temple, houses the Hindu God, Shiva. Commingling of Buddha and Jain architectural flairs, are significantly shown on the walls of the cave. It upholds the talents of the dexterous architect of that era. Spread across a rambling 5000 square km, the area, houses 9 caves altogether. These caves have laid their foundation on 28 contiguous pillars. But, the sad part is that, 8 out of these 28 pillars are now in ruins. Previously three doorways, positioned at the eastern, western and northern sides of the Elephanta cave, used to mark entrances. But, now devotees and tourists only can get inside through the entrance, placed at the northern side of the cave. You can feel the presence of the Hindu deity, Shiva who is showing Tandava dancing posture in the 1stcave. A lot of impressive allurements in the Elephanta cave, however, have been demolished when Portuguese had set up their training centre here.


But the bright face of Shiva in the second cave would fascinate you for sure. Shiva here is fighting against the devils with human skeletons on his crown. Shiva is holding the skin of elephant in his 3rdhand while his 4thhand is occupied with sword. He is holding a bowl to take the droplets of blood of the devils.


The marriage of Shiva and Parvati is shown in the 3rdcave. The God, Narada, is their match maker. Fearful Himalaya hill is there with his daughter in his hand. The deity of Chandra, Chandrama is residing at the left hand side of the cave. The Sheepish face of Parvati with a cute smile is shimmering. The smiling Shiva is laudable as well. The worshipper Brahma is sitting right behind Shiva. Narayana himself is standing and observing the marriage ceremony as well.


The River Ganges flows into the cave four slowly. Shiva is holding its stream with his Chignon. Yamuna and Saraswati, two tributaries of the Ganges mark their ways through the cave as well. Bhagirath Shiva is bending his knees down and is worshipping.


Shiva is residing in the 5thcave (40*40 meters) in his Maheshwar incarnation. The Tri Muthy had been artistically carved out of a single stone. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are placed at the right, middle and left hand sides of the Trimurthy. Some believe that all of these idols are actually three different incarnations of Shiva. The height of the idol is 6 meters, where as the head has a height of 2 meters. The small cave, beside the main cave, houses an idol of Ashtamatrica. It seems like the idols of Karthik and Ganesh are protecting the idol of Ashtamatrica.


Shiva and Parvati are residing in the 6thcave as Ardha Narishwar. The idol has a height of 5 meters. Parvati at the right hand side of the cave and Shiva at the left hand side of the cave are standing with a mirror and a snake respectively. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and Varun are residing at the top while the deity, Karthik is residing at the downside of the cave. The idol of the deity, Nandi, is placed at the right hand side of the cave.


The faceless Shiva is there in the seventh cave. The idols of Parvati and Nandi are occupying their respective positions at the left and right hand sides of the cave. Shiva and Parvati are playing Pasha. It looks charming.


The devil king, Ravana, is lifting the Kailash up along with Shiva’s home to take Shiva back to Lanka. Shiva and Parvati have decided not to go with Ravana and they are effortlessly stopping Ravana. This entire story had been shown in the 8thcave. The idols of Nandi and Bhringi are standing tall at both sides of Shiva.


The 9thcave is imposing as well. The idols of Nataraj Shiva and Yogi Shiva are there at the left and right hand sides of the cave. These pretty idols are pulling crowds in huge numbers. The four faced Brahma draws attention as well. The Hindu God, Ganesh, is residing at the lower side of the cave.


Apart from the canteen of MTDC, a number of privately owned hotels with their average services are encouraging people to visit Elephanta Island. For staying an entire day, the Holiday Resort is excellent. 2 rooms of this resort, nevertheless, are getting renovated all together now and hence are closed. A lot of people move away from the mundane city life to the Elephanta Island on holidays. The Elephanta Island is a must visit paradise for all the tourists who visit the land of Mumbai. The Elephanta festival, organized during 19th-20thFebruary every year, is quite popular in the propinquity. For detailed information you can feel free to contact Maharashtra Tourism @ 022- 24143200. An oil refinery is working here with the oil, collected from the Arabian Ocean. Don’t miss the opportunity to gaze at the entire procedure of oil refining here.


The Nuclear research center of Trombay is not very far away from Elephanta Island. You are, however, not permitted to get down at Trombay.


Apart from the beguiling allurements of Mumbai, the well constructed big houses of eminent individuals at the roadsides are the magnetism of Mumbai. The grand and notable structure of the lavish Taj Intercontinental is sited right in front of the Gateway of India. To watch various Indian trademarked items at one place, you have to flock to the World Trade Centre in Colaba.


The University Building, erected by George Gilbert in 1874, positioned at the opposite side of Cross Maidan in the middle of K.B Patel Marg, depicts the pretty and trendy Gothic architectures of French style. The impressive library of the University has octagonal Rajabai Clock Tower which has a height of 80 meters. Sheth Premchand Roychand (Merchant), followed the well-thought-out designing plan of Sir George Gilbert Scott and spent an hefty 3 lakhs rupees to build this historical University in 1780. The prominent French Gothic architectural elegance and flair make this edifice one of the sought after tourists’ attractions of Mumbai. The riveting convention hall, built in 1874, resembles the structure of a holy Church. 12 glass windows which are decorated with zodiac cycles allow sunrays to come inside and illuminate the complex. The clock and bell, which produces same musical tone, had been constructed later on after 2 years. 24 holy idols of 24 different tribes of Maharashtra had been engraved on the tower walls. You have to grant permission to climb up the tower to stare at the panoramic vista around though.


57 meters tall high court, located at the back end of the tower, is one of the few buildings which show British Gothic architectural touch. 2 octagonal towers, City Civil Service Court, Secretariat and Legislative Building can be watched taking a walk. All these important edifices of Mumbai look different altogether at night with shimmering lights. The Pope Paul Maidan, located adjacent to the High Court, was famously known as the Oval Maidan previously. Modern towering homes and Victorian, at both the sides of the road, bedeck the entire territory.


Besides the eye catching and attractive towers of homes, the poor people of India are hidden. The largest slum of Asia is located in Dharavi, Mumbai. More than 50% of the populations of Mumbai are living their sub standard lives in these scattered slums. Thousands of poor people have made footpaths their homes.


It is evident that the increasing populations of Mumbai have severely affected the lifestyles of people. Countless numbers of people are flocking to Mumbai regularly to earn a better living and truly speaking Mumbai is getting relentlessly affected by the huge pressure of populations. To get rid of this ever increasing problem, the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO) had been formed in 1979. It had taken the much needed initiative to form an extended Mumbai through its 20 projects around greater Mumbai. Almost 2 lakhs people are living in each of these project areas.


The whole city of Mumbai is spread on the lands along the Arabian Ocean. So, a lot of sea beaches are dotted in and around the city. Beach lovers stroll around and enjoy their stay at Mumbai. Seeing the popularity of Goa as tourists’ spot, initiatives have been taken to make a number of other places, such as, Marvey, Madh, Manori, Aksa, Mahim and Versova, the sought after tourists’ destinations of Maharashtra. The Utan beach, on the Bassein- Manori road, is considered an outcast. It is important to take precautions before you take a bath on the beaches like Madh (44.8 km from Mumbai) and Marvey (38.4 km from Mumbai). All of these beaches are located on the outskirts of Mumbai.


Avail a train from the Church Gate railway station to Malad. Take a bus or avail a ferry service from Malad to Marvey and Manori beaches.


Delimited by diminutive hills, Marvey, the village of fishermen is a nice place to be at. The place is full of tourists during the weekends. Many of the city dwellers have erected bungalows on the beautiful land of Marvey. Make your weekend really very special watching the enamoring sunrise and sunset standing on the prolonged Marvey beach.


Ghorai and Manori beaches are not very far away from Manori. If you love to amble around the beach, then you must visit Ghorai and Manori. These beaches are the parts of the Portuguese colony called Bassein. A nearby heavenly destination for all the Christians is the Holy Magi Church.


Manoribel hotel, Roman holiday and Hotel Dominica are the notable hotels of Manori. During weekends tourists can stay in the homes of local people. Buses ply to Aksa beach from Malad regularly.


Another delightful heaven is Versova beach, about 23 km away from Aksa beach.


The Jogeshwari cave is located right beside the Andheri railway station. The Dargah of Makhtum Fakih Ali Paru (the Muslim saint), is the prime enticement of Mahim. The Muslim saint had taken his last breath in Mahim as well in 1431. The 1 week long Urs festival is celebrated in Mahim during the month of September to refresh the memories of the great Makhtum Fakih Ali Paru.


Kanheri National Park, covering a straggling 5000 acres, about 42 km towards the northern side of the city of Mumbai, exhibits lush green manor and dry mountains. Plentiful of aquatic birds increase the splendor of the astonishing forest. The sanctified Gandhi temple, atop the hill, depicts the class-apart Buddhist architectural flair and stylishness. It’s a pleasing and charming destination. Enjoy a day away from the gripe and grime of city life here booking a room in the cottage. The Lion Safari Park is located at the entrance of the park. A special kind of car would take you inside the forest to watch ambling lions, the kings of the forest. Children would have a nice time riding on a toy train. It’s not a bad idea to enjoy a boating as well. The Lion Safari Park is open during 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except on Mondays.


Kanheri National Park is located at a distance of 10 km from Borivali which is a well-known railway station. Borivili can be accessed from Mumbai Central by train. Come out through the eastern gate of the Borivali railway station and hire an auto or taxi to the National Park.


Sanjay Gandhi National Park, about 1 km away from Borivali, is a strolling land of innumerable wild beer, panthers, wolfs, and various species of deer.


Another impressive attraction of Borivili is the Portuguese Church which was converted into a church from a Hindu cave temple.


Esselworld, a prominent and bright name of Mumbai, is an amusement Park and can be accessed from Malad by bus. Tourists can avail a ferry service from Borivili to the Esselworld as well. Malada and Borivali both the railway stations are well connected to Mumbai. A number of famous companies have set up their machinery in this park.


Avail a bus from the Pinki talkies bus stand of Andheri East to the Fantasy Land. The ticket price to get into the Fantasy Land varies depending on the age of the visitor.


Kanheri Cave, about 7 km deep within the green manor of Kanheri National Park, is also famous with the name Mahakali Cave.109 Buddha Chaitya (Shrines) and Vihar, built during 2nd-9thcentury, are the prime attractions here. Some of these historical evidences are incomplete though. Many of these are also in ruins but their grandeur are still pulling crowds in numbers. All these Buddha shrines were artistically and innovatively carved out of hilly rocks. Pebbly staircase takes devotees higher up to the destination. The inspiring architectures would surprise all with their class-apart splendors. To keep its shape intact, it has been restructured and revamped recently.


The 1at Chaitya still partially is unfinished. The 2ndchaitya has two adjoining pillars where as the 3rdone is established creatively on 34 neighboring mainstays (28*13 meters). The remarkable and striking carvings, illustrated on the walls of these caves, are attention-grabbing. One of prime and foremost caves around the territory is Cave 10 (22*10 meters). Buddha in Padamasana is residing in the cave 35 (12*14 meters). Take a walk higher up to watch the pretty paintings in the Cave no 14. Buddhist Litany is there in Cave no 21. The beguiling architectural flair and elegance of the 11thand 34thCaves are treats to the eyes. To watch Buddha a bit differently you have to travel to the Cave 23. 11 faced Buddha here is blessing his devotees with his 4 hands. 11 faced Abalokiteshwar is residing in the Cave 41. Many of the caves showcase the tales of Jataka (29-35, 42-44, 73-77, and 98-99). Buddha in Padmasana is residing on top of a snake in Cave 50. The architectural sumptuousness of the Cave 67 is splendid. At last, watch the spectacle of the Cave 90 and 101, before completing the trip of Kanheri caves. It’s not very tough to understand that, if you are concerned about the impressiveness and extravagance, then the caves of Ajanta are far better as compared to the Kanheri caves.


Thane, located towards the northern side of Kanheri, was once famously known as a Portuguese port. Apart from the memories of the ancient era, the best memorial which tourists can see is the age-old Church, erected long back in 1825. You can stay overnight at Thane as well.


Bassein is located towards the northern tip of Thane.


The extended terrain of Mumbai houses a number of Lakes. Water is supplied to the city of Mumbai from all these Lakes, located on the outskirts of the city.


About 103 km towards the north- eastern side of Mumbai, Tansa Lake, on NH-3, is a beautiful Lake. But, as it is located outside the premise of the city, this place is not yet been accessed by many visitors and city dwellers. It is one of the huge water suppliers of Mumbai.


Surrounded by soaring hills, Tulsi Lake is located at a distance of 41 km from the city of Mumbai. Inhabitants mainly access the Lake through the National Highway and Aarey Milk Colony. Witness the fascinating majesty of the Milk Colony on the way to the Tulsi Lake. Climb up the adjoining Tila to gaze at the panoramic sights around.


Drive your car towards the National Park to watch the Powai and Vihar Lakes. Spend quality time, amidst the wonderful natural setting, enjoying the boat ride on the surface of the Vihar Lake. The astonishing orchard on the banks of the Lake is an eye-catching sight for the visitors. Ride on a boat and enjoy the charming view of crocodiles which swim across the Lake all throughout the day. The Lovely Lake is spread across a straggling 1400 acres of land. Especially, picnic and jaunt lovers would love this heavenly paradise on the outskirts of the busy Mumbai. On holidays, special bus services are available to the captivating Vihar Lake from Mumbai and Borivali. Travelers who like to travel by train can get down at Borivili railway station. Hiring a taxi to the Vihar Lake from the Borivali railway station is the best available option for the hordes of holiday makers.


Tourists who want to travel and enjoy the natural grandeur comfortably should avail a package tour for visiting Kanheri. It is conducted by MTDC.


The enamoring Amusement Park, located at the opposite side of the Powai Lake, is worth visiting as well.


To celebrate the 300thBirthday of the intrepid leader, Shivaji, a Park called Shivaji Park was built in 1927. Way back in 1946, the Indian patriot Mahatma Gandhi conveyed a strong message (against the British force) to the entire world. The main office of Shivsena (a political party of Maharashtra) has been set up here. Don’t forget to watch the adjoining play house.


Bassein Fort:


On the banks of Ulhas River, about 59 km away towards the northern side of Mumbai, the Bassein fort, was inaugurated for the first time by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, to ward off and stand firm against the Portuguese invaders. Later on, all the hard work of Bahadur Shah went in vain and Portuguese took the control of the fort. The island-shaped fort was reshaped and restructured in 1534. The name was changed as well to Vasai from Bassein.


Well protected by a fortification, the fort premise, had given the opportunity to 300 Portuguese and 400 Indian Christian families to live. The well planned and designed fort has a slanting doorway. Apart from the above mentioned houses, the premise also had the homes of aristocrats or Hidalgo, St. Joseph Cathedral (1536), 13 Churches and 5 Convents.


It was a well-known spot for the slave business. Vasai used to export horses to the entire world. Norte de Corte (Court of the North) was another name of Bassein in the Portuguese era. Later on, the name changed again to Bajipur when Maratha emperors won the fort and the battle against the mighty Portuguese force. The fort was again severely hit by the British troop in 1816. The wraithlike fort is still pulling crowds for illustrating the primeval history through its half-moon-shaped vaults, huge pillars and spiral narrow staircase. The colossal open windows of porta-di-terra recall the old memories as well. Previously the ocean used to be very close to the fort but now has moved away. The workshops of fishermen can still be witness around the fort complex.


Nalasopara, the capital of Konkans, are situated towards the north- western side of the Bassein fort. The Buddhist commemoratives, excavated from the surrounding lands, prove the existence of the Buddhist communities in that period.


Express trains are regularly traveling to Vasai Road railway station from Mumbai central, Dadar and Surat. Fort is just 11 km away from the railway station of Vasai Road and can be accessed hiring an auto or car. Buses also ply to the fort from the Vasai road railway station. Start your journey to Bassein fort from Mumbai early in the morning and complete the trip on the same day before coming back to Mumbai.


Hotel Vrindavan and Carejo Farm are the places where tourists can stay overnight at.


The astounding Snow Center is the newest of all the attractions of Mumbai. The huge entertainment Park, built with the aid of the Al Otaiba Group of Dubai, is spread across 9000 square km of land. It’s really enthralling to stroll around and take pleasure in the amusement Park. Tourists and their children generally have a pleasing time in the park enjoying various sports’ activities and skeet. For the laughter and enjoyment of the swarms of holiday makers, a lot of shops and restaurants are offering their services. The variation of temperature is noticeable at various parts of the center. Cable cars connect different corners of the Snow Center for the convenience of the tourists.


The well-know Crawford Market, about 10 km away towards the north- western side of the CST railway station, exhibits a pretty form of French Gothic architectures of 12thcentury. This is now popularly known in the vicinity as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market. Even though the market is rich in collections, but people enjoy buying stylish attires and fruits from the market primarily. The place looks different altogether in the seasons of mangoes as crowds from distant places assemble on the premise of the market to purchase mangoes.


The Apollo Bandar can be accessed crossing the charming Crawford Market. The entire road to the Apollo Bandar is congested with temples, mosques and shops.


Another market, namely Zaveri, is located at the roadside of the Abdul Rehman Street (at the northern side of the Crawford market). Besides gold and silver, innumerable pearls and valuables are sold in the market.


Shoppers would also have a nice time purchasing numerous products of their own choice from the brass market of Colaba. Get into the shoe stores around the Regal Theatre of Colaba. The roadside shops of S B Singh Road, Colaba would offer you an assortment of items as well. Leather items, Attires, Ornaments, Furniture and the collection of imported substances of the roadside markets would amuse you on any given day.


The Fashion Street in the basement of the M G Road, at the opposite side of the Bombay Gymkhana, showcases a huge anthology of items which are usually exported to countless numbers of countries of the world. You can buy these high quality items in reasonable price.


To watch the state emporiums, you can drive your car to the World Trade Centre of Worli. If you have the ability of bargaining, then it’s not very tough to get quality items in reasonable price range.


The Bhuleshwar Market can be accessed easily from the railway station of Charni Gate. Don’t forget to use your bargaining skills here.


For watching and purchasing aromatic flowers you have to travel all the way to Phul Gali, near the Buleshwar Market. Various state Governments of India have set their shops up in these markets. For reliability tourists can purchase items of their choice from these shops.


Harihareshwar:


On the coastal land of Konkan, about 210 km away towards the southern side of Mumbai, on NH-17, Harihareshwar, has now become a sought after tourists’ destination on the well-stretched-out banks of the Arabian ocean. Besides the enticing vista of the lingering ocean banks, abundant numbers of devotees flock to Harihareshwar getting attracted towards the divinity of Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwar and Parvati.


Quiet land, secluded amidst the wonderful natural locus, Harihareshwar, has few mythological tales attached to it. It is believed that the holy Kalbhairav Shiva temple, atop the small tila, was erected by the saint, Agastya. However, opinions vary regarding this. The family deity of Peshwa dynasty, Kalbhairav, is also accompanying the deity Shiva in this sanctified temple. Devotees believe that a footstep of Vishnu had been carved on a submerged stone as he had stepped in Harihareshwar while calculating the volume of the world.


The pilgrimage, Shukla Teertha, is situated at the mouth of the Savitri River and the Ocean. Pilgrims take a dip in the holy water of Shukla Teertha before paying tributes to the almighty.


The consecrated Gayatri Teertha is positioned right beside the holy Shukla Teertha. Your trip to Harihareshwar would be incomplete, if you are unable to enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunset there.


Take a walk along the seashore to the Pandava Kund, located at the opposite side of the Brahmadev hill. According to a well-known mythological tale, the kund was a libation spot of the Pandavas.


The only bus of the day starts its journey to Harihareshwar from Mumbai at 14:45 hours. It takes 6 ½ hours to reach Harihareshwar from Mumbai. A lot of buses, nevertheless, are available from Shrivardhan to Harihareshwar.


Some of the renowned and noteworthy hotels of Harihareshwar are Holiday Resort, A. C Tent House, Himalchura, Geetanjali Rest House, Guru Geeta Lodge, Resort Harihareshwar, Ganga Niwas, Hotel Shiv Sagar, Hotel Nanda Van and Hotel Gokul.


How to reach: Mumbai is well connected to almost each and every prime destinations of India. Mumbai is accessible by trains from Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Vadodara, Ahmadabad, Surat, Jamnagar, Dwarka, Rajkot, Porbandar, Bikaner, Kanpur, Allahabad, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Varanasi, Patna, Mangalore and many more Indian destinations. Buses also ply to various south and West Indian destinations from Mumbai regularly. Popular Indian and Overseas destinations are well connected to Mumbai by air as well.


Where to stay: City Palace, Empire Hindu Hotel, Modern Guest House, Hotel Royal Park, Hotel Mamata, Hotel Regal, Sheel Hotel, Hotel Manama, Hotel Sealord, Hotel Rupam, Welcome Hotel, Hotel Tourist, Prince Hotel and Nrisinha Lodge. Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings at best rates.

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