Cave Carvings on Elephanta and Late Night @ Leos

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
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Trip End Aug 21, 2011


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Where I stayed
Travellers Inn

Flag of India  , Maharashtra,
Saturday, December 18, 2010

Breakfast at Universal Café was great, poached eggs on toast and mango lassi. Love it.  The staff were busy clearing the debris from the party of the night before but this beautiful Raj building with its open windows connecting you with the street outside had a wonderful charm, at any time of the day.  Felix rocked up and we swapped stories from our biking so far.  After breakfast Pols and I went to meet up with Alan and Tricia at the Gateway to India to venture out to the much hyped Elephanta Island.  The island 9km north of Mumbai was so named by the Portugese because of a huge stone carving of an elephant found there, it has since crumbled and been removed from the island.  But it is the intricate cave carvings of Shiva which is the main attraction.  We all met in Moshies, a Mumbai coffee shop behind the Taj Hotel and strolled down to the water.  Tickets bought we joined the flow boarding the small boats which ship hundreds out to the island each day.  The boat ride out allowed a close up look at the many boats in this gigantic harbour, tugs in their hundreds, oil tankers whose size defied belief, naval ships and then the many rickety tourist boats chugging between these resting giants.  On arriving on the island we made the long walk to the cave entrance.  Polly braved the toilets half way and narrowly missed a mass cat fight which broke out ironically because of cue barging (as if there is any system to such things in India).  The not so friendly monkeys darted around grabbing half eaten fruit.  Up we went, ignoring the option to be carried up by four men on a chair.  It was quite a climb with Tricia setting quite the pace, not resting until the 200 or so steps had been scaled.  The caves were interesting, the carvings were amazingly intricate and uniform and just like we marvelled at man's achievement of constructing such huge ships, we contemplated the architectural genius that directed the work that took place 1500 years ago.  I am not sure that I would class the sight as one of India’s most serene but Shiva with her three heads to represent her roles as Creator, Destroyer and Preserver, was a masterful piece of work.  The boat back was very relaxing and as we returned to the city the sun was dropping fast.  A red haze accentuated the Mumbai skyline and without noticing another day had slipped away.  Pols and I hopped back in a taxi to meet Felix for a beer, a quick beer turned into a few when it was decided to order one of their beer towers (we are such crazy travellers!).  We then rushed across town to meet up with A & T for a G & T.  Dinner back at Universal was great again, Alan’s sizzler was quite a meal.  I had agreed to try and find Felix later but it was now 10pm.  Struggling to remember the name of the bar Pols and I returned to consult the guidebook. Leopolds, of course.  Pols crashed but for me the night was yet young.  Taxi to Leopolds.  On entering I immediately sensed why this was such a legendary place.  The setting for  Gregory David Roberts 'Shantara’  and victim of the Mumbai attacks a few years back, the bar had stories to tell.  I sat down with the international crew Felix had assembled and we talked the night away.  I really don’t know what I did with that book I bought in Leopolds?

Quote of the day; In the blazing midday sunshine of India on the way out on a boat, when offered suncream, Alan responds "Don’t be so ridiculous, it is December, there’s absolutely no chance I could get sunburnt!"
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