SIGHTSEEING IN MUMBAI

Mumbai is the city of Gold where one willing can achieve his dreams. People from all parts of the country come and try their luck here. This is the reason behind the cosmopolitan and mixed population of the city. You will people of all caste, culture and religion. The dressing, eating habits are a cross section of the traditional beliefs and the new western influence. The urban and educated people are greatly influenced by western culture.

Mumbai has much to see. Once a tiny island covered by palm trees was used to belong to the native koli fisher-folk, who still live here in their little villages surrounded by huge skyscrapers. In the seventeenth century the Portuguese came and dotted the island with several forts, which stand even today. In 1661, Mumbai was finally ceded to Charles II of England and eventually became one the largest ports in the British Empire.

The local language is Marathi, but Hindi is widely used and known to all. Also as English is the medium of instruction is offices, even the locals understand and can speak the basic words to help a foreign tourist get around without much trouble.
Colaba Area

  • Situated in South-Bombay, this is a tourist preferred location. It has plenty of budget and mid-range hotels. The majestic Taj Mahal Hotel has great views of the Gateway of India from its top floor Apollo Bar. The streets behind the Taj Mahal Hotel are the travellers’ centre of Mumbai. The main drag of Colaba is plenty of street vendors, shops, stalls and cafes.

  • Fort

    The extravagant blend of Victorian gothic buildings in the Fort district of Mumbai, supports the European roots of the city. This lively area occupies the site of the old British built fort and is the established commercial centre of Mumbai. It’s jampacked with commuters, street stalls and the 19th century British institutions and trading houses. The Bombay Stock Exchange on the famous Dalal Street is one of the many establishments.

  • Marine Drive

    Built in 1920, Marine Drive runs along the shoreline of the Arabian Sea from Nariman Point to the foot of Malabar Hill. It passes Chowpatty Beach along the way. It’s one of Mumbai’s most popular romantic spot and sunset view is amazing. Tourist brochures are fond of stating it as the Queen’s Necklace, because of the dramatic curve of its streetlights at night.

    If you’re feeling energetic, a stroll down Marine Drive is possibly the best way to discover Mumbai. This is a windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings. Looped between the concrete jungle of Nariman Point, Mumbai’s Manhattan, and the leafy green slopes of Malabar hill, Marine Drive is sometimes called the Queen’s Necklace, strung with glittering street lights like an enormous strand of imperious jewels. It is also one of Mumbai’s busiest roads, an important artery for the heavy suburban traffic heading downtown. Cars whiz continually past the two mile stretch, past huddled lovers, children and babies in perambulators. This is where most of south Mumbai comes to breathe in some fresh air.

  • Chowpatty Beach

    Mumbai’s famous beach is no place for a sunbathe or taking a dip. In fact, there’s not much going on at Chowpatty at all during the day, but in the evening it develops a magical atmosphere as locals come to stroll among the balloon sellers, fortune tellers, magicians, nut vendors, ferris wheels and shooting galleries. You might even catch a film shoot or a street play. At one end is a row of bhelpuri shops hawking Mumbai’s most popular snack: crisp puffed rice and semolina doused in pungent chutneys, all scooped up with a flat, fried puri. Eating at the collection of stalls is an essential part of the Mumbai experience. Chowpatty is a great place to witness the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in August/September when large images of the Lord Ganesha are immersed in the sea. If you go to Mumbai and have not gone to Chowpatty and enjoyed the beach-side snacks then you have lost lots of fun.

  • Malabar Hill

    The colonial bungalows that peppered the hillside in the 18th century have now been replaced by the apartment blocks of Mumbai. The formal Hanging Gardens (or Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) on top of the hill, offer the visitor a panoramic view of Bombay – the bay, the colorful Chowpatty Beach immediately below,and the imposing buildings of Nariman Point (Manhattan of India) reaching for the sky. And at night, “the Queen’s Necklace” is something to watch from the height. Beside the Hanging Gardens, are the Parsi Towers of Silence. Parsis hold fire, earth and water as sacred so do not cremate or bury their dead. At the Parsi Towers of Silence, (not open to visitors) the dead are exposed to elements.

  • Hanging Gardens

    Perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side, just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park, these terraced gardens, also known as Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, provide lovely sunset views over the Arabian Sea. The park was laid out in the early 1880s over Bombay’s main reservoir, some say to cover the water from the potentially contaminating activity of the nearby Towers of Silence.

  • Crawford Market

    The colourful indoor Crawford Market, north of CST (previously VT), is the last outpost of British Bombay before the fever of the central bazaars begins. It’s a blend of Flemish and Norman architecture with a bas relief depicting Indian peasants in wheat fields just above the main entrance. The freize, incidentally, was designed by Lockyard Kipling, father of the famous Rudyard Kipling, and the Kiplings’ cottage still stands next to the JJ School of Art across the road. Now named after a local patriot called Jyotiba Phule, Crawford Market looks like something out of Victorian London, with its sweet smell of hay and 50 ft high skylit awning that bathes the entire place in natural sunlight. It used to be the city’s wholesale produce market before this was strategically moved to New Bombay. Today it’s where central Mumbai goes shopping for its fruit, vegetables and meat.

  • Kalbadevi

    No visit to Mumbai is complete without a round into the bazaars of Kalbadevi, north of Crawford Market. The narrow lanes of this area are flooded in by laundry-draped chawls, and a huge mass of people bring Mumbai’s traffic to a standstill. It’s in complete contrast to the relative space, orderliness and modernity of South Mumbai. The main areas are Zaveri Bazaar (jewellery), Mangaldas Market (cloth), Dhabu St (leather goods) Mumbai’s

  • Gateway Of India Gateway of India

    The Gateway of India – a 26 mt. Triumphal Archway designed Century to commemorate the visit of King Geoge and Queen Mary to India in 1911 – is Mumbai’s most famous landmark. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway.
    Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai’s splendid natural harbour.

    The dome of the museum

  • Prince Charles Museum

    Built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture to honour king George V’s visit to India. It has 3 main sections: Art , Archealogy , & Natural History. It has a fine collection of Chinese Jade pieces, oil paintings & miniature paintings.

    Rajabai Tower

  • Rajabai Clock Tower ( Mumbai University )

    Situated at the gardens of Mumbai university building, the Rajabai Clock tower rises above the portion of the library section. Consisting of 5 elaborately decorated storeys, the tower is 280 ft. In height and commands a fine view of the city. From the ground are about eight other statues depicting various Indian castes.

    Haji Ali

  • Haji Ali’s Mosque

    Situated in between the Arabian Sea, is a whitewashed fairytale mosque containing the tomb of the Muslim saint Haji Ali.

  • Essel World

    This is Mumbai’s only international-style amusement centre situated close to Gorai Beach. Special ferries get you across to the park and the entrance fee normally takes care of a fixed number of rides. These include the standard roller coaster and adventure themes, plus a water world section where kids can literally run amok. Summer is usually crowded, but the place also offers low budget monsoon packages and special deals on weekends. Check these out before you go.

  • Film City

    Mockingly called Bollywood by locals, Film City clings to the outskirts of the National Park, and is practically overrun by assorted stars and starlets — the demi gods and goddesses of modern India. Bollywood churns out over 900 films every year, all packed with those mandatory elements of song, dance, melodrama, violence and erotica that audiences love. Which is probably why Film City sets are heavily booked around the year. They are closed to visitors, but special permissions can always be obtained to check out the action.

  • Juhu beach

    Like Chowpatty, its downtown counterpart, uptown Juhu Beach is also a bourgeois paradise, filled to the gills with screaming children, courting couples and rowdy adolescents. If you want a more fancy excursion, however, retreat behind Juhu’s many five star hotels, for a steaming cup of coffee and a splendid view of the coast. The most popular of these beachfront hotels are the Sun and Sand and Holiday Inn. The government run Juhu Centaur also has a 24 hour coffee shop with a view of the sea.

welcome in Vajreshwari

 

The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory
The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory

THE red-and-yellow bus at Vasai Road station had only one door. A Koli woman and her three fish baskets were trying to get in through it. My spirits sank. Imagine starting off on a Sunday pilgrimage immersed in the smell of raw fish!

The bus slowly filled up with other smells and sounds. A basketful of bananas, another of assorted greens and a jerry can of heavy-duty oil joined the fish. A hawker thrust a packet of pens under my nose. A packet of chana floated outside the window. Thankfully, the man in the next row had an English newspaper opened wide.

The bus was old and rickety. Once we got into the countryside, its creeks and rattles seemed to bring the low clouds alive! The Konkan countryside turns a vivid green with the onset of monsoon. The hillsides present a blend of black igneous rock and green grasses or short trees. By the time the grey battlements of the Vajreshwari temple came into sight, we had spent over an hour on this green road.

The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory. Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao I, got it built after the Marathas conquered the Bassein fort in 1739.

 

Vajreshwari entered Indra's vajra to slay the demon Kalikat
Vajreshwari entered Indra’s vajra to slay the demon Kalikat

The temple stands atop a hillock by the road. A flight of 52 steps leads up to the main gate. Half way up, I stopped at the landing to survey the ground below. The Tansa, a small river, shone into view. It executes a crisp ‘L’ before slowly rolling into the cloud-draped hills.

A large board in the main gate’s side states the temple’s history but it is in Marathi. Though the gate is clearly old, the covered walkway that connects it to the sanctum is not. The original temple must have stood in a walled courtyard, unconnected to the gate. It was a grey stone structure, probably dome roofed. But now the curves of domes are visible only from the inside. Both the sanctum and the forecourt have concave ceilings, capped by cement spires.

The temple is dedicated to goddess Vajreshwari but the sanctum also has idols of goddess Renuka and goddess Kalika on either side of the main Vajreshwari idol. Smaller idols of Ganesha and other gods and goddesses are carved in the pillars and walls of the forecourt.

 

 

 

Divine cure

Last year, scientists of the National Chemical Laboratory isolated a molecule that inhibits the AIDS causing HIV-1 protease, from a microbe that thrives in the high temperature and alkaline conditions of a hot spring in Vajreshwari.

How to get there

Vajreshwari lies in Thane district of Maharashtra, 31 km from Vasai Road station. The suburban train from Andheri in Mumbai takes 45 minutes to reach Vasai Road. The fare is Rs 8. The state transport bus from Vasai Road to Vajreshwari charges Rs 18. Travel time is one hour and 15 minutes.

Both Renuka and Vajreshwari are widely revered in the North. The Renuka lake in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh is named after Renuka, mother of sage Parshurama, while Kangra and Chamba have famous Vajreshwari temples.

The Tansa flows here and the village is well known for its 21 hot water springs
The Tansa flows here and the village is well known for its 21 hot water springs

Vajreshwari has a balmy air about it
Vajreshwari has a balmy air about it

The legend goes that Parshurama had performed a mahayajna at Vajreshwari and the hills of volcanic ash in the area are its residue. The Parshurama connection somewhat explains the worship of Renuka in the area but the Vajreshwari legend is quite complicated. In fact, there are differing beliefs about the goddess.

In Kangra, for instance, it is believed that the Vajreshwari temple marks the site where the left breast of Sati Parvati had fallen. But in Vasai, one belief is that the goddess came to be called Vajreshwari after she swallowed Indra’s vajra (thunderbolt), which he had hurled at the sage Vashishtha. There is another belief that the goddess is called Vajreshwari because she entered Indra’s Vajra to slay the demon Kalikat.

Whatever the myth, the Vajreshwari shrine makes for a great outing due to its picturesque setting. On emerging from the temple, I walked down to Akloli village, about a kilometre ahead. The Tansa flows here but the village is better known for its 21 hot water springs. The presence of these springs is attributed to the volcanic past of the region. In all, there are about 350 hot springs in the Tejsa, Tansa and Surya rivers of Vasai taluka.

Vajreshwari has a balmy air about it. Hardly a jarring shade in the miles of green… I crossed the bridge on the Tansa and walked down the rocks to the edge of the water. A farmer and his daughter were spending the Sunday afternoon fishing from a rock. I sat down to snap up their catch with my camera!

Sri Malang Gad, Haji Malang

Trek Sri Malang gad, Haji Malang
Alias -
Type Hill Fort
District Raigad
Height above mean sea level 2596 feet
Nearest Village Kalyan
Minimum Duration 1 Day
Region Karjat
Transport

By Train reach Kalyan. Buses are available from Kalyan to the base of the fort on a regular basis

Time to reach the top About 2 hours from the base
Water Availability Water is available through the small hotels on the way. Best is to carry your own water from Kalyan.
Best season to visit Any season except monsoon
Sights to visit HajiMalang Dargah, Maachi and balekilla of the fort.
Difficulty Rating Reaching maachi is quiet easy but going to balekilla is quiet tough
Shelter No shelter is available
Location
A view from Malang GadSituated at the border of Thane-Raigad districts is known more for the Dargah of Malang Baba, halfway up the mountain. But above the Dargah there is a much more hidden thrill for the trekkers, which one may not expect.

Shri Malang Gad is situated at a distance of 13 K.m. from Kalyan. Kalyan is well connected to Mumbai by rail as well as road. Frequent S.T. buses are available from Kalyan S.T. station to the base. About one and half hours climbing by steps will take you to the Dargah. 20 mins from Dargah up to the mountain will take you to the Balekilla (citadel). The pinnacle of the Shri Malang Gad is supposed to be the real challenge for the professional trekkers, but for amateur trekkers reaching the pinnacle by a very very narrow path should also be a thrilling experience.

 
 Precaution
View of Malang gad from the base The way to the Dargah has many exhaustive steps (water is available throughout from the small hotel’s). Beggers on th eway are irritating.
 
 Sight Seeing
Way to the balekillaOne can visit the Haji Malang dargah on the way to the fort. From the Balekilla (citadel) we can see Chanderi, Matheran range to the south, Kalyan city, Mahuli to the north and Mumbai (with part of sea)to the west.
 
 Note
   All references regarding duration of trek and transport are given with respect to Kalyan
photographs
Darwaja on the way to machi The only way to reach the Balekilla
Darwaja on the way to Machi. The only way to reach the Balekilla.

Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves are a  great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai meteropolis. The Elephanta island is located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century CE.

 The Elephanta island was so named by the Portuguese, after the statue of an elephant near the landing area of the island. These rock cut temples dedicated to Shiva Mahadeva are rich in sculptural content. Motorboats take passengers from Appollo Bunder near the Gateway of India. .

How They were Constructed: This rock cut temples were created by carving out rock, and creating the columns, the internal spaces and the images. The entire temple is akin to a huge sculpture, through whose corridors and chambers one can walk. The entire complex was created through a process of rock removal. Some of the rock surfaces are highly finished while some are untreated bare rock.

The entire cave temple complex covers an area of about 60000 squrare feet and it consists  a main chamber and two lateral ones , courtyards and several subsidary shrines. Above the temple is the mass of natural rock.

There are three entrances to this temple. The ones on the east and the west marking the axis of the temple. A 20 pillared hall lines the axis, and on its western end is the cella in shich is enshrined a Shivalingam. The pillars consist of fluted columns standing on square bases, and are crowned with fluted cushion capitals.

The enigmatic image of Trimurthi Sadasiva: The Sadasiva manifestation of Shiva is carved in relief at the end of the north south axis.  This collossal 20 feet high  image of the three headed Shiva, Trimurthy is a magnificient one, considered to be a masterpiece of Indian art.  This colossal image represents Panchamukha Shiva, only three faces of whom are carved into the wall and it demands immediate attention upon entering the temple through the northern entrance. Also on the southern wall are grand sculptured images of Kalyanasundara, Gangadhara, Ardhanariswara and Uma Maheswara. To the west of the northern entrance are sculptured images of Nataraja and Andhakaasuravadamoorthy, and to its east are images of Yogiswara and Ravanaanugrahamurthy.

Thus in the Elephanta caves, Shiva is portrayed in the non anthropomorphic Shivalingam form, as well as in his quintessential being emanating from the Shivalingam in the colossal image, and in 8 manifest forms.

To the east of the main temple is a courtyard, flanked by the secondary shrine. This temple contains six pillars at its entrance, four of which are free standing and two engaged. The entrance leads to a hall decorated with sculptured panels depicting legends from the Shiva Purana.

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