Elephanta Caves & MumbaiFebruary 13 in India ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C
Feeling a bit better today so decided to head out and tackle the three (3!!) world heritage sites in Mumbai. After some breakfast at a western style cafe with tasty food and glacial service, we headed for the Gateway to India at the entrance to Mumbai harbour and caught a ferry across to Elephanta Caves.
Here there were more Hindu rock art caves, pretty similar to what we'd just seen at Ellora and Ajanta, and sadly these were by far the least impressive. Only five caves here, and really only the first cave has something interesting in it - a huge three-headed statue of Shiva known as the Trimurti. It was quite interesting looking at the three-faced head sculpture and reading the Wikipedia article, learning about it. Apparently it represents the three aspects of Shiva, the chief god of Hindus.
One side was slightly feminine, wearing jewellery and holding a lotus leaf, representing fertility. The centre face was serene and holding a shield, showing protection. While the third face looked furious and held a sword, representing destruction. It was probably the best single carving we'd seen in any of the three cave sites, but there was very little else here besides aggro monkeys and souvenir stands, so we beat a hasty retreat.
Sailed back across the harbour in the early afternoon and started wandering. The two sites in Mumbai are the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Buildings, as well as a separate listing for the huge Chhatrapatti Shivastri Terminus railway station.
Mumbai is actually probably my favourite Indian city, as the buildings are quite interesting. You can really see how important it was during the colonial era, as there's heaps of old buildings like that around. These days they're occupied by government offices, law courts, post offices and so on, but they're dotted around and very interesting to see. More trees here than elsewhere too, plus a large park in the centre of town called the Maidan. It was actually mostly green and of course had about 10 different cricket matches happening.
Last stop as evening approached was the main railway station. Dating from the 19th century and formerly known as Victoria Terminus, it was renamed after independence for an Indian king of yesteryear. The building itself is magnificent, with Gothic flourishes, sculptures and incredible details all over the front and interior. I'd hoped to do the building tour which ran frequently in the afternoon (and which Shandos had done the day prior), but alas we were just too late. Oh well.
Back to the nearby hotel where we went to the western-style cafe across the road for dinner. I managed a chicken burger for dinner even though it was way too spicy, but didn't feel up to a beer. Realised I hadn't had a single beer since arriving in India!Read more