Monday, 18 April 2011

Our adventures ...

... so far - and be warned this is a long post!!  I've already shared a few photos of the hotel and doorman (one of 4 men).  And now I'm going to tell you about our weekend.

On Saturday we went to Elephanta Island which is about 7 miles north-east of the Gateway of India.  The only way there is by boat - not something that Kathryn was looking forward to.  But the journey over wasn't too bad at all, in fact the views looking back towards Mumbai, were amazing.  However, even at 9am in the morning there was a distinct heat (pollution) haze over the city.  The boat trip takes an hour each way; it was lovely to start with as there was a breeze, but it didn't last long, and by the time we got to the island it was very hot.

To reach the caves we had to climb over 125 stairs - the gradient wasn't too bad, but the heat and humidity made it seem like a mountain!!  But it was so worth it.  The caves truly are a wonder.  We had a local guide - a nice guy and he told us all about the sculptures.  They were chiselled into the rocks during the 6th century and the sculptures are magnificent.  Sadly, when the island was discovered by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the soldiers used the sculptures for target practice.  There is a lot of damage, but one was saved because it was hidden from view.  The magnificent triple-headed Shiva statue - The Mahesamurti.  The faces represent Shiva in his different manifestations - the face facing west is Shiva as the Creator, the head facing east is Shiva as the Destroyer and the central face is Shiva the Preserver.  It is quite amazing.  Here's my photo, it's not bad, but there are many, many better!!


There are lots of monkeys running around at the top of the island.  They are a rough lot.  We watched them take a bottle of drink from someone's bag!!  They managed to open the lid and drink the contents.  We gave them lots of space after that.  The walk down to the boat was so much easier going down!!  Along the steps are lots of stalls run by the islanders.  Some of the stuff is nice, some it pure tat!  One thing that is very obvious from the sea, is the amount of rubbish that has been thrown away.  The plastic doesn't degrade and it all ends up in the sea and then collects in coves - it's awful.



The return boat trip was super - there was a strong breeze which really helped to bring the temperature down a bit.  Elephanta Island is not only popular with tourists, a lot of local people visit too, and I was able to get some super photos on the boat - people are very happy to have their pictures taken - so long as you ask.  The little boy with his mum ended up falling asleep - it's the heat.  The young man (right) was super - he took great delight in having his photo taken, not just by my, but by Jonathan and some of the other tourists on the boat.

And I was the subject of just as much interest - Westerners are still not that common, especially in the summer (most visit in the milder months of November to February).  I got a couple of wonderful photos of the Gateway of Indian (built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, but actually finished in 1924).  The large building with the red dome is the Taj Mahal Hotel - a very popular (and horribly expensive) hotel with tourists.



On Sunday Jonathan took us for a walk around the hotel.  We left early, just before 9am.  We saw lots of little shops - all shut at that time of the morning.  But there were still lots of people about.  I think Kathryn found it really difficult - not only the heat - but the fact that she could see that many people live on the streets.  Jonathan said that people might not have a house, but they come "home" every day to the same spot on the street.  It's hard to believe that this is all within a five minute walk of a 5 star hotel.

We got the train - an amazing experience - to Churchgate where we got off.  Jonathan took us through a cross street and we ended up on Marine Drive - an amazingly long promenade up the coast.  This was built on land that has been reclaimed from the sea - the buildings were once magnificent Art Deco houses, but now many of them are in desperate need of repair and restoration.  Kathryn really didn't enjoy this walk - the heat and humidity really got to her, but I found it very interesting.  A few photos from the walk.







We took a taxi back to the hotel and then, much to Kathryn's delight, spent the afternoon in the pool.  We had another walk in the evening - like most countries which are very hot, everyone comes out then.  The shops were busy and it was bright, vibrant, hot, exciting and fascinating.  We finished off by having dinner at a local restaurant - a wonderful vegetarian meal - beats UK Indian restaurants every time.





And today we're having a lazy day.  Jonathan is at work and Kathryn is not keen on going out today.  So I'm going to take my book and some sun cream, and we're off to the pool.  Kathryn will swim, I'm going to try and work on a suntan!  Bye for now.

7 comments:

Jackie said...

Fantastic photographs :)
Jackie xx

Craftilicious said...

I'm loving your posts about your trip - there's so much detail its like we're travelling with you. Tara x

Paula said...

Take care with the sun. Sounds very very different & I hope that Kathryn is able to cope with it during the time you're there. Thanks for sharing all the photos - I cannot imagine what it would be like.
Paula (PEP)

Jenny said...

Wow this is a great online travel log, loving the photos too.
Jenny x

Joyce across the Pond said...

Thanks again for the lovely report....the heat sounds very dehydrating - would love to travel there but for the heat.

mustavcoffee said...

Thank you for sharing, lots of things to see and do, India is a very interesting place and your pics are brilliant. I hope you have lots more fun:0) xxx

Stella said...

I love love love the pictures and your story. India is an amazing country....

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