Here goes the tale of my first solo travel! (I have been longing for one)
My story of jouney within, story of travel through multiple modes and story of visiting a place on high alert!
The obstinacy of solo travel have always engulfed in my heart. This Sunday I took the plunge and left to explore Elephanta Caves. Though it’s not a tough task but still, exploring it alone was an accomplishment for me. I boarded the train to CST and reached there by 10:45 am, every time I get down at this station the heart throbbing incident of 26/11 moves my heart and particularly on that day because it was just a day before Independence day. Now the station is itself a tourist place also famously known as Victoria Terminal. The giant clock, the peculiarity of architecture embarks the glory of Old Mumbai or better to say the real Mumbai. I never noticed the magnificence of this place before, perhaps that why the travel with yourself connects you better with your surroundings.
Next I took a taxi ride from CST to Gate Way of India. The best part about Mumbai, all the taxi drivers are always eager to strike out a conversation with you, and as far as my experiences says, those talks are never boring in fact sometimes these drivers take me by surprise when they narrate their vision of world. Well that’s another story but anyway this driver scared the hell out of me. The opening line was ‘Madam itne police wale khade hai aaj, kal hi do bomb mile hai yahan’ and I thought twice about continuing my journey. Two bombs were discovered the day before on a bike so the area was on high alert because as I said earlier it was just a day before Independence Day.
I immediately wanted to take the train back to my place but the first step of everything/anything is so very important that I just couldn’t gave up. I reached ‘Gateway Of India’ pondering upon the significance of the place. This was the place from where British people left India. I was surrounded by crowd and I was keeping my eyes open for any unusual activity, my heart was racing fast on the thought of blast.
I bought return ticket to Elephanta Caves and got a good seat on the top of ferry. The journey was good and almost took 1 hour 15 minutes. Our ferry was makings its way cutting through the cohesive water layers right into the heart of sea. After getting down at Elephanta debarking point I took a mini train till the foot of Caves from where the journey of almost 120 steps starts. It was a good walk covered with tarpaulin and vendors selling souvenir of all types. I decided to stop for more shopping on the way back and bought just a safety knife.
Cave 1 is the most significant and beautiful out of all. It depicts the avatars of Shiv Parvati, have 4 guarded entrances. Sculptures are damaged but still very captivating. All 5 caves are situated on the same stretch. Cave 2 is unfinished one. Cave 3 is famous for its cushion pillars. Cave 4 is known for its beautiful doorjamb. Cave 5 is again unfinished one perhaps depicting the early phase of excavation. Cave 6 and 7 were closed. It took me not more that 40 minutes to cover all the caves.
Next I went to see the canon point. The climb was quite steep and I wanted to give up but my determination of going back only after taking a complete tour kept me moving. There is huge canon mounting on the top of hill. It’s literally huge. I wonder how people in old times would have carried it all the way to the top. On my way back I had a quick bite of Indian Burger i.e vada pao and neembu pani. Now it is just so insignificant to mention what I had but it was so tasty and refreshing that I can’t resist mentioning it. Now this other incident of my quick bite is also very interesting … I was munching on my bhutta (roasted corn) and chased by a cow until I gave up and left my bhutta for her to eat, it was interesting because it brought round of laughter to the people around seeing me running around. My munching on road side eatery did not end there. One much have kacha aam over there it was so delicious.
I got onto ferry back to ‘Gate way of India’ delighted over my mission accomplishment.
I certainly didn’t strike any interesting conversation with anyone, I didn’t have any such ‘out of the world’ experience but I discovered a part of myself. The little girl gained a part of confidence that she needs when she is going to explore the world all by herself. J
Quick Guidelines on how to reach and fare estimate:
- Board a train to CST: priced 10rs to 15rs
- Board Taxi from CST to Gate Way of India: Priced 10rs in shared and 27rs in Personal
- Board ferry to Elephanta : 180rs (includes return fare as well)
- Additional 10 Rs to sit on upper part of ferry.
- Board mini train: 10rs(includes return ticket as well) .. Though you can walk also, just 10 min by walk
- Entry fee: 30 Rs (500rs for foreigners) and 5 Rs some sort of Income Tax
Total time needed to explore Elephanta caves: 5 hours (including ferry ride time)