The Financial Headquarters of India, a city that never sleeps! So what do you do if you had only 48 hours and want to beat Mumbai in its own game – speed. Here is a sneak peek in to the vibrant vitals of the Millennium city.
Gateway of India :
The southern tip of the city, an ideal starting point for any tour of the city. It is one of the most important landmarks from the British era. It is the landing place for the British governors and distinguished personages.
The structure standing since 1924 has both Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture. A statue of the Maratha hero Chhatrapati Shivaji adorns the site. Flora and fauna dot the surroundings. Expect a crowd at the place considering the importance of the location.
Jetty’s will take you to Elephanta Caves and Alibaug from here. Alibaug, a beach destination is just a 45 minute sea travel away.
Elephanta Island Caves (9 km from downtown Mumbai, (natively known as Gharapurichi Leni), is a collection of sculpted caves located on Gharapuri. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves they say date back to the period between 5th and 8th centuries, and show both Hindu and Buddhist influences. To this day, however, the identities of their original builders remain a mystery. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain.
Give this location a skip if climbing steps and walking is not your style. On a warm day this can be a sultry experience. It is a 45 minute ride on the jetty after which a barrage of steps awaits you. The island is 1. 5 miles (2. 4 km) in length with two hills that rise to a height of about 500 feet (150 m). A deep ravine cuts through the heart of the island from north to south. On the west, the hill rises gently from the sea and stretches east across the ravine and rises gradually to the extreme east to a height of 568 feet (173 m). This hill is known as the Stupa hill. Forest growth with clusters of mango, tamarind, and karanj trees cover the hills with scattered palm trees. Rice fields are seen in the valley. The fore shore is made up of sand and mud with mangrove bushes on the fringe. Landing quays sit near three small hamlets known as Set Bunder in the north-west, Mora Bunder in the northeast, and Gharapuri or Raj Bunder in the south.
Get past the steps and the Shiva Cave (the main cave) welcomes you. The cave has a central Shiva shrine which is almost life size. The sculptures show traces of Chalukyan architecture along with scene’s from the Nilkantha’s life
Sitabai’s Temple and a Buddhist stupa give company to the Shiva Cave. Water seeps in to the caves from the rocks. The portico has four pillars and two pilasters. The hall has 3 chambers at the back, the central one a shrine and the rest for priests (both are plain rooms). The door of the central shrine has pilasters and a frieze, with the threshold having lion figures at the end. The shrine has an altar, a water channel, and hole in the centre, in which a statue of Parvati may have been worshipped. A 17th-century record states that “this cave [has] a beautiful gate with a porch of exquisitely wrought marble” and two idols, one of goddess Vetal Candi and a head being in a large square sea.
Keep an eye on the watch as jetty’s leave at slated times and if you miss your return trip then staying back will be the only choice.
Back from Elephanta, You can relax and unwind at the Chowpatty Beach, which is located at Marine Drive, near the foot of Malabar Hill. It is among Mumbai’s most popular beaches. It is a nice place for watching the sunset (one of the most beautiful in the city). The site is also noted for its street food, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, and contortionists and snake charmers that converge on a bazaar near the beach, especially during weekends.
You are guaranteed a delicious dinner at the restaurants available all over the city.
Babulnath Temple, Mahalakshmi Temple @ Bhulabhai Desai Road
One of the most important Jain temples in the city is the Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple (Ridge Rd. , Walkeshwar (Malabar Hill). It is also regarded as the most beautiful Jain temple in Mumbai. The entrance is guarded by two massive elephant stone sculptures. Inside, you’ll find a variety of sculpted images depicting different gods and saints. The site is open daily from 5 am to 9 pm.
The Mahalakshmi Mandir as the name suggests is dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. The temple dates back to 1831 when it was built by Dhakji Dadaji, a merchant. History has it that idol was recovered from the sea and temple was built for it at the location.
The temple contains images of the goddesses Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati. All three images are adorned with nose rings, gold bangles and pearl necklaces. The image of Mahalakshmi is in the center shown holding lotus flowers in tandem. The compound of this temple contains several stalls that sell flower garlands and other paraphernalia used by devotees for worship and as offering.
Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most popular religious places in Mumbai, visited by people of all religions alike. Haji Ali Dargah is one of India’s most famous and prestigious landmarks situated about 500 yards from the Mumbai shoreline in the middle of the Arabian Sea.
The structure was erected on a set of high rising rocks and was given its present day shape in the early 19th century after the Trust was legally formed as an entity in 1916. Haji Ali Dargah is the complex housing the tomb of the Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari (R. A. ). Along with the tomb, there is also a Masjid at Haji Ali. This monument has been sentinel to the shores of Mumbai since a long time.
All the 3 sites are within a km of each other in the order Babulnath Temple, Mahalakshmi Temple and Haji Ali.
One of the most popular & significant places of worship is the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir situated at Prabhadevi. This temple was first consecrated in 1801. The temple then was a small structure housing the black stone idol of Shree Siddhivinayak, which was two and half feet wide. The outstanding feature of this deity is the tilt of the trunk to the right side. The idol has four hands (Chaturbhuj), which contains a lotus in upper right, a small axe in upper left, holy beads in the lower right and a bowl full of Modaks (a delicacy which is a perennial favorite with Shree Siddhivinayak). Flanking the deity on both sides are Riddhi & Siddhi, goddesses signifying sanctity, fulfillment, prosperity and riches. Etched on the forehead of the deity is an eye, which resembles the third eye of Lord Shiva.
A little known and quaintly located is Gilbert Hill which is a 200 ft (61 m) monolith column of black basalt rock at Andheri, in Mumbai, India. The rock has a sheer vertical face. It is said that this was formed when molten lava was squeezed out of the Earth’s clefts during the Mesozoic Era about 66 million years ago.
According to experts, this rare geological phenomenon was the remnants of a ridge and had clusters of vertical columns in nearby Jogeshwari which were quarried off two decades ago. These vertical columns are similar to the Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, and the Devils Postpile National Monument in eastern California, USA.
Gilbert Hill was declared a National Park in 1952 by the Central Government under the Forest Act. Atop the rock column, two Hindu temples, the Gaodevi and Durgamata temples, set in a small garden, are accessed by a steep staircase carved into the rock. The hill offers a panoramic view of suburban Mumbai.
Sign off the day with Beer Tap’s at Leopold’s in Colaba or a hot cuppa at Bru Cafe in Juhu
You may also like to catch up on Kanheri Caves at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly Prince of Wales Museum), The Taraporewala Aquarium, trekking trails at Karjat, Matheran.