Friday, 29 July 2016

A trip down memory lane - My Visit to Mumbai and Shirdi

Mumbai holds a special place in my heart because this is the place where I spent my teenage years and somehow out of the so many cities that I visited so far,I still long for the vibrancy of Mumbai .

After God blessed us with our second child,we wanted  to visit Shirdi to pay homage to Sai Baba .I know many would snigger at this but again there are some feelings that you just can't explain logically ....So when the opportunity arose ,we decided to take a trip from Delhi to Mumbai and further down to Shirdi and back to Delhi .Since kids were accompanying us,we did all the hotel bookings for Mumbai and Shirdi  in advance and then we booked Air India Airlines tickets and flew to Mumbai Once there,a prepaid taxi took us to our Hotel Ameya .

Again,there were purely sentimental reasons to book that hotel .It was the place where I had stayed during my training before joining as a consultant for Dr. Batra's Chain of Homoeopathic Clinics .The brochure had looked promising enough but to my dismay the place was now in shambles but because it was situated in the heart of Dadar and hence well connected to the whole city ,we decided to stay on in that Hotel only .

In front of the Famous Taj Hotel, note the covered monument undergoing renovation post the unfortunate 26/11 attack

The Majestic Gateway of India 

The beautiful Kamla Nehru Garden is famous for its "Boot House" and floral diversity
                                
 The next day we booked a taxi and went sightseeing which included - Siddhi Vinayak Temple ,Haji Ali Dargah,The Hanging Garden,The Tarapore Aquarium ,Juhu Chowpatti beach ,The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (earlier known as the  Prince of Wales Museum )which houses  Indus valley civilization artefacts as well as artefacts from the Maurya ,Chalukya period and modern Indian History.We could easily manage all these places in a day as most were a short distance from our Hotel .

My kids loved the peda prasad (and what a huge variety of peda flavors they had !) at the Siddhi Vinayak Mandir .I was amazed to see the Bandra -Worli Sea link .Who could have imagined this architectural wonder possible a few years back !

The Golden Pagoda on the way to Essel World is a sight to behold

Further on the itinerary were the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Essel world-the amusement park .Essel world was a cherished place for us kids when we lived there and similarly The Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Kanheri caves were an often visited picnic spot for us.

A warm and colourful and musical welcome as we got down from our ferry
The kids were spoilt for choice with games and activities 
The water park in the sweltering heat was a big respite at Essel world

                                       
So the next day, we took a taxi that took us from Dadar to Borivali and from there on we took a boat ride called Ferry to Essel world.My kids were squealing with joy as the Ferry chugged into slicing through the sea waters towards Essel World.Luckily,Essel World still is a great place to hang around and my kids and even we adults could not have enough of it .By the time we were done with all the rides ,it was already evening and since the National Park closed by 5 pm,we grudingly had to shelve that programme and the kids were too tired anyways .So we took a taxi back to our Hotel.

Luckily we were in Mumbai in the mango season and our hotel was very close to the market so we indulged in the best Alphonso mangoes throughout the two days that we were there .This was another highlight of our trip.

The Golden Alphonso Mangoes

The same night we took a pre-booked Volvo bus to Shirdi and snoozed our way to Shirdi .We landed there early at 5.30 am and our hotel was a 5 minutes walk from there .Once there,we freshened up and after a light breakfast proceeded to the Darshan which started at 11 am .Unaware of the fact that one  can get registered online for Darshan which could have saved time,the two of us spent about three hours  in the queue taking turns to hold the kids in our laps alternately.

We were able to pay our respects and were out of the Dwarka Mai compound( the place where Sai Baba lived in Shirdi ) by 2 p.m and had a hearty lunch of Misal Pav and Pav Bhaji at The Udipi Restaurant .


A sweet shop catering Pedas and Chaklis in Shirdi


Too tired but satisfied we came back and spent the evening at the hotel sleeping off the evening .At night we ventured out to get our daily fix of alphonso,our golden addiction, but strangely the only fruit available throughout shirdi was the humble guava .
After exploring the city we came back as there's not much to explore except for a few saree and crafts shops there .

The next day we had asked the hotel to arrange a taxi and we set out for Ajanta and Ellora caves , which is about 270 kms away from Shirdi.The economy here  is mostly agriculture based and it was a delight to drive though the red soiled fields .We had Vada Pav (what else ?) for breakfast on the way with cutting chai and finally eached the famous rock cut Ellora caves.It was sweltering hot outside  and inside the huge caves one also felt a bit dizzy but the ruins were marvellous being carved out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th centuries..It was sad that the acid rains would slowly eat into these beautiful sculptures and maybe there would be no Ellora in the next ten years !
 
A Yakshika at Ellora

Lord Shiva with his consort Parvati
The life like carved Elephants at Ellora

Imagine carving statues out of a mountain in the 6th century with those primitive tools !

Exhausted from the heat and the hiking and with a Flight Schedule to adhere to,we again had to ditch the visit to the Ajanta caves , a fact that I really rued , for I was very excited at the prospect of visiting the world famous Ajanta cave paintings .
The beauty of these sculptures is beyond words

The Taxi took us to the Aurangabad Airport and from there we took a direct flight to New Delhi .And thus we concluded a whirlwind but memorable yatra .

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