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The Silk Route - World Travel: Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India
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India: Mumbai - Elephanta Island & Juhu Beach
February 2019

Elephanta Island Juhu Beach
Elephanta Caves, Mumbai


There are some wonderful Hindu carvings in the cave temples of Elephanta Island, and a particularly fine pillared hall.


Elephanta Island

Mumbai
Taj Hotel and Gateway of India from the ferry.
The tower is also part of the hotel, opened in 1973.

 

We took the first ferry of the day, a Tuesday, from behind the Gateway of India - we'd heard that weekends are best avoided because of the crowds. We opted for the luxury boat but not sure what the difference is, and paid 10 IRP extra to go up on the top deck. From the ferry you get the best view of the Gateway and the Taj Hotel.

Mumbai
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Stalls line the route up to the caves.

The crossing takes about an hour and when you arrive you can take a little tourist train to cross the long jetty - we opted to walk. At the end the stalls begin, though at this time few were populated, and they line the path and steps all the way up to the entrance to the cave complex. Mercifully the route is quite shaded.

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mud flats and mangrove at low tide on Elephanta Island.

There are five Hindu caves that most people visit and two older Buddhist caves that are more difficult to get to.

The Hindu caves date back to around 500 A.D. The first cave that you come to, Cave 1, is by far the most impressive. A wide, dark pillared hall is surrounded by carvings of Shiva and his wife Parvathi.

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Entrance to Cave 1.
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
There were quite a few security guards around.

On the wall far into the cave opposite the entrance is a three-headed Shiva called Mahesh. The eyes of the god seem closed in all three manifestations, and the aspect of the front-facing Shiva is very serene.

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mahesh
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Ardhanarishvara

For me the most intriguing of the sculpture groups is a dual carving of Shiva and his wife Parvathi, to the left of the Mahesh. Called Ardhanarishvara it represents the duality of life and is very cleverly carved. Shiva is on the left, Parvathi on the right. One of Shiva's hands rests on the head of Nandi, the scared bull and Shiva's mount.

After Cave 1 the caves are much less impressive.

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 2

Cave 2 is little more than a portico, though Cave 3 has a fine pillared entrance leading to a large space with a central carving.

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 3



 

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
The Shiva Lingam (representation of Shiva) shrine in Cave 3. Caves 1 and 4 have similar shrines.
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 3
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 3
The jagged hole on the left leads to the Shiva Lingam shrine.
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 3
The surrounding of the entrance to the Shiva Lingam shrine was once richly carved but is now badly deteriorated.
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 4
Entrance to the Shiva Lingam shrine.
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 4
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 3
Shiva Lingam
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Cave 5

All that can be seen of unfinished Cave 5 is a low ragged hole in the cliff face with a jumbled space beyond.

Mumbai - Elephanta Island
There are a lot of monkeys on Elephanta Island.
Mumbai - Elephanta Island
Excavations continue at the site, employing local women to help.

We got the first ferry back - they only start at around midday - to lunch at the Taj Hotel!

Mumbai - Elephanta Island

 

Juhu Beach

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Sea Princess Hotel
Note the abseiling cleaners at work!

Two days relaxation - unheard of! But since Andrew was at a conference, and I couldn't face the Mumbai traffic again, even with a private car and driver, I decided to go with the flow and enjoy the location.

The Sea Princess Hotel is right on the beach which is a beautiful sweep of golden sand. The hotel is walled with a locked gate leading onto the beach and ever-present security, although I felt quite safe walking there.

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
View from the room.
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Gorgeous fresh pineapple juice.

Sadly a lot of rubbish is washed up by the tide - the sea must be full of it. There is a cleaning crew out every morning, though, collecting as much as they can, and one day I even saw a party of school children litter-picking. As well as a great service, hopefully it will stop them tossing litter themselves; at other times I saw youngsters discarding sweet wrappers, empty food packets, spent party fireworks - not seeming to realise that most will not degrade quickly, if at all, and just builds up.

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Juhu Beach, late afternoon.
The hotel is on the right behind the wall. The beach is used by many people as a thoroughfare - much nicer than the road which lies on the other side of the hotel!
Mumbai - Juhu Beach

 

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Early morning looking south on Juhu Beach.

 

On the second morning I took a long walk, first north then south along the beach to a jetty where small fishing boats were tied up. The cleaners had already been over the northern beach which was looking good; they were working their way south. Women dragged plastic bowls behind them and picking up litter, men raked the beach, and an overseer sat on the tractor/groomer busy on his mobile.

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
I saw a few clumps of sea foam like this, something I'd never seen before. Apparently it's created in turbulent seas.
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
One of the colourful pieces of cloth, washed up on the beach.

Where they were yet to clean there was an awful lot of rubbish, mostly brought in on the tide I think, including many brightly coloured cloths. I was told by a friend later that these would originally have wrapped statues on offerings which the people float out to sea.

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
Where the cleaners have yet to work there is all kinds of rubbish, mostly, I think, brought in on the tide.
Mumbai - Juhu Beach
There are a few properties which look derelict but might be saved to create beautiful beach homes or small hotels.
Mumbai - Juhu Beach

 

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
There always seems to be at least one game of cricket on the beach.
Mumbai - Juhu Beach

 

 

Mumbai - Juhu Beach
I believe this man was selling ice cream.