Mumbai - elephant island

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September 2nd 2018
Published: September 7th 2018
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After checking out we had breakfast for the third day in a row at the nearby Theobroma cafe. This French style bakery is full of delicious looking breads & cakes and do a very good breakfast. Nothing in Mumbai seems to open before 9am (except, perhaps, Starbucks) which rather limits an early start unless you can source food from elsewhere.

Despite the fact that the rest of Mumbai was clearly still asleep (judging by the empty roads & closed shops) the Gate of India was packed and the tauts were out in force. Successfully purchasing tickets for the boat over to Elephanta Island we picked our seats and set out for the hour long boat ride. It costs a little extra to sit on the top deck. Fortunately, being cheap, we had sat at the front of the bottom deck instead, and when the heavens opened we remained relatively dry.

Stephen found the boat journey more interesting than I did as he was able to identify lots of the naval ships (including one made by the British in world war 2 and still in use). The waters are full of ships of various sizes, from small fishing vessels up to massive container ships. The are all rather rusty and I’m not sure any of them would be deemed sea worthy back home! I was hoping for a pretty view but it was too hazy to see much.

Once at the Island we stepped off the boat to be greeted by stalls and guides all wanting your money. There’s a little toy train you can take about 500m along the flat to the bottom of the stairs up to the caves. There’s then a tax counter you have to pay to enter the island. They’re all nominal amounts of money but it gets frustrating that there’s always another charge.

The walk up to the caves is pleasant enough as the people tending the stalls weren’t pushy or aggressive. To the right of the entrance to the caves is a steep path which led up to a couple of gunner points and some beautiful views. You could see down to the fishing village and across to the Mumbai skyline.

The caves themselves are another world heritage site. They cost 600 rupees each as a foreigner. They are not worth it. There are only 5 caves and there is almost no information about any of them. The first cave is full of images of Krishna in his various incarnations, and there’s one in particular with his multiple faces that is rather magnificent. When you start looking closely though it becomes apparent that there has been a lot of ‘conservation’ work. The floors, stairs and doorways are all concrete, most of the columns are concrete, although some appear to just have concrete cladding over the bottom of the original columns. There is no indication anywhere that most of the caves are a reconstruction and it’s very unclear what’s original and what isn’t (the concrete which is breaking down to reveal the steel underneath is a giveaway in many places). We were so cross about being ripped off that we complained and actually got our money back! Whilst we accept this remains a site of interest the entrance fee is exorbitant for what’s there and the amount of reconstruction unacceptable. If you want to see caves go to Ellora, Ajanta or even the Aurangabad caves over this place!

After lunch we got on the boat back to Mumbai. With a reasonable head wind it took well over an hour and
Elephant island Elephant island Elephant island

Actual cave - hiding from rain
the water was choppy enough to get us rather wet. We got back into port about 430pm (having left at 1030am - don’t believe them when they say you only need 3 hours!). Grabbing our backpacks we walked to the train station to go across town to Boriveli and to our bus to Udaipur. On arrival at our pick up point we discovered that our bus had been cancelled - this despite a text message this morning confirming it! Somewhat cross we managed to get on a later bus with a different company at a slightly higher cost. Unfortunately no one on the help line could tell us whether or not we would be getting a refund so we’ll have to chase that up once back on WiFi...

Whilst looking forward to seeing Udaipur we are a little sad to leave Mumbai. There’s so much left to see there and it’s easy to get around. We certainly enjoyed it, although we won’t miss how expensive it is!

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Elephant island Elephant island
Elephant island

Concrete caves
Elephant island Elephant island
Elephant island

Concrete caves

8th September 2018

Kicking myself...
...for failing to mention that Elephanta Island would be disappointing. Sorry. I'm sad that you didn't make it to the Dharavi slums instead - but, hey, you've probably seen it already on Slumdog Millionaire!

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