Mumbai, Bombay, call it what you will. The locals still call it Bombay. Perhaps because it’s sited on a long narrow peninsula, the tourist areas are near enough to the water to get a cooling breeze. This means it’s less smoggy than Delhi. The air feels much cleaner and the skies are bluer.
Even the traffic seems more orderly and actually stops for red lights. There are no tuk-tuks downtown so none of the incessant honking. I really like it here. Dare I say, I could live here.
We spent a few hours on our first day getting oriented with a driver, going to some of the sites in the Fort and Churchgate areas as well as Colaba where we are staying. Our guy Raj took us to the Dhobie Ghat, a shanty-town looking neighborhood where everyone is involved,in the business of laundry. It was the most incredible sight seeing all of the people scrubbing and beating and wringing and hanging the laundry for clients from the local tour guide to the big hotel chains. There were ironing rooms and big industrial spinners and kids and cats and grannies. A real community affair.
Next day we hopped a ferry to Elephanta Island to visit the caves there which are dedicated to Shiva. They date back to about 600-635AD and were listed by UNESCO as World Heritage in 1987. The main cave is an excavation of about 40 meters square (about 130 square ft) and is supported by massive pillars with fluted columns topped by bulging cushion-like top bits (technical term!). There were monkeys about the place, romping and preening and stealing packs of chips off small children. Cheeky monkeys…
Here are some pics from our first two days: