Today we sailed into Mumbai Harbour to a city covered in haze with the heat and humidity that goes hand in hand, arriving at last to some warm and the familiar sight of palms and mangroves
The Immigration procedures on board where lengthy and made for a late start. Today we are on the Elephanta Caves tour and after the short coach ride into the city of Mumbai passing through the Horniman Cirlce where the Mint, the Town Hall, Customs house we arrived at the Gateway to India.
As soon as we stepped off the coach we were inundated with hawkers pushing their wares of post cards, books, balloons and peacock feather fans upon us with insistent pleas. Our tour guide worked to keep the number of hawkers and beggars down and explained to our group that some beggars are professionals and it is sometimes hard to tell them apart from real beggars.
It was great to see the colourful saris worn by the Indian women and colourful clothes the children were dressed in and the culture of India.
Reaching the square situated on the water’s edge in the area of Colaba we were greeted with the sight of the famous ‘Gateway to India‘ monument and the ‘Taj Mahal Hotel’ The gate stands 84 feet high and is where dignitaries in time gone by use to first step ashore. It is a combination of a typical Muslim arch with Hindu-style decorations.
We boarded our ferry for the one hour cruise to the island which house the Elephanta Caves, there are no elephants and never has been on this island.
Our tour guide explained the history of this man made cave which were hand cut out of the side of the hill in centuries past. Inside the caves stand tall carved pillars and statues that tell the story the god of Sheba.
Leading to the caves are 120 stairs which are lined with stalls filled with colourful ornaments, bags, carved wooden elephants and jewellery. We were tempted to buy but we were not in the mood for haggling and bartering today.
The cows wander the streets along with the goats and and monkeys all attempt to grab some of the food the stall holders are selling. One lady on in our group was butted in the back by the horns of one cow so we all then watched carefully and took a wide berth from the cows.
Back on the ferry for the one hour sunset cruise back to Mumbai we relaxed in comfortable chairs and returned to the port.
Again we had to walk back through the streets to the coach and once back on board the Oriana we sat by the pool to rest and enjoy the sail away in warm weather.
Burns Night so a Scottish piper and Haggis for dinner tonight
On to Cochin, India next.