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Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir is dedicated to Ganesh and is located at Prabhadevi in Mumbai. Can be accessed by road.
It was built in 1801 by Mr. Laxman Vithu and Mrs. Deubai Patil.
Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir

The temple has images of Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesh in Maharashtra) carved in it. It has a gold plated roof, which is visible from the inside, not outside, and has a statue of Ganesh in it.
People come here from all corners of Mumbai. People come walking barefoot for the early morning aarti just to show their belief in Ganesh.
The temple is visited by people day in and day out. It is the richest temple in Mumbai. 
Map to Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir

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Girgaun Chowpatty

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Girgaun Chowpatty, known as Chowpatty, is a famous public beach on the coast of Mumbai.
Girgaun Chowpatty with the skyscrapers in the background
It is famous for Ganesh visarjans (immersions) when people come in large numbers to immerse an idol of Ganesh in the sea. There are halogen lights put up on the beach during such times.
View of the beach
There are many fast food joints on the beach selling bhelpuri, ragda patties and pav bhaji. People come here in large numbers to enjoy the sunset and then feast on the fast food.
Another view of the beach, with litter on the shore
The water here is not clean but some people do prefer to have a nice bath in the water. The beach is nicely kept. No littering is allowed on the beach, which is patrolled by lifeguards.

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Ban Ganga

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ban Ganga is located in Walkeshwar and can be easily accessed by road. Taxis and buses frequently ply there. I was told about this place by Parag, an ex-colleague of mine. So I headed off to see this place.
View of Ban Ganga
Ban Ganga is a part of the Walkeshwar Temple complex in Malabar Hill.

Having checked with the locals, I was able to locate this place. It is surrounded by many temples.
Temples near Ban Ganga
This place is really beautiful and reminded me of the ghats at the banks of the river Ganga.

There is a rectangular water tank in the middle with steps on four sides leading to it. There are two pillars at the entrance where oil lamps were lit in ancient times.
History states that this tank was originally built in 1127 AD by Lakshman Prabhu and was later rebuilt in 1715 AD by Rama Kamath.

Mythology states that Rama, the Hindu god, had stopped there on his way to Lanka to rescue his wife, Sita. As Ram was tired and thirsty, he asked his brother, Laxman, to bring him some water. Laxman shot an arrow in the ground and at once water gushed out from that spot. This place is called Ban Ganga, meaning Ganga created by means of an arrow (ban in Sanskrit).
Another view of Ban Ganga
Ban ganga houses the samadhis of the heads of the Groud Saraswat Brahmins. It also doubles up as the Hindu cremation ground.

This area smelled really bad. The stink was horrible. I felt nauseous. Also to my surprise many eagles flew above the area. I wondered why. To my surprise there are many people who stay nearby. Wonder how they have managed to adjust to the stink.
Contrast Picture of a Rustic Ban Ganga and a skyscraper near it
To add to this I saw two young boys bathing in the water. The water was green in colour. I was wondering if the water was clean and good enough for them to bathe in.
I shot a few photos here and then left in a hurry as the stink was driving me nuts.

Haji Ali Dargah

Friday, January 20, 2012

Haji Ali Dargah can be reached either on foot or by a vehicle as it is very close to Mahalaxmi Railway Station.

Boarding a BEST bus, I alighted at the Haji Ali junction. This place is always the site of a traffic jam. The landmark to look out for here is the Haji Ali juice centre. Next to this juice centre, there is a path which takes you to the dargah. For that matter, the dargah itself is a landmark.

Haji Ali Dargah from a Distance
 On the way to the dargah you will see a number of stalls selling offerings to be offered at the dargah. The stretch can be covered in 15 minutes.
Entrance to the Dargah
 The Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431 in memory of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who gave up his possessions before going on a pilgramage to Mecca. He later settled in Mumbai. Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari had a recurring and disturbing dream that he had committed an offence against the earth. Disturbed by the dream, he fell ill and directed his followers to cast his coffin into the Arabian Sea, on his death. When his followers did as he directed, they noticed that tThe coffin carrying his body floated on the shores and got stuck on the rocks. It was at this place that the dargah was constructed.
 The dargah features Islamic architecture. It occupies an area of 4,500 sq ft. The tomb in the mosque is covered by a red and green chaddar. There are separate praying rooms for gents and ladies here.
Beautifully Carved Minaret
 People of all faiths visit this shrine in large numbers. I found some musicians playing devotional songs in the dargah premises. The dargah is reconstructed part by part so that it does not hamper the people visiting the dargah.
Devotional Singers in the premises
 The reconstruction is being done in two phases. The first phase involves the reconstruction of the mosque and minarets; the second phase involves the sanitarium building.
Old and New Minaret
On a rainy day when there is a high tide, the entire stretch of land leading to the dargah is submerged under water, making it an island. People are restricted from entering the premises at such times.

As the dargah is located in the middle of the sea, it provides a panoramic view of the city.

Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat

Monday, January 16, 2012

I had absolutely no idea that Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat is visible from the bridge atop Mahalaxmi railway station. The first time I realised this was the day I went to see it. The dhobi ghat is located on the eastern side, quite close to the railway station at a place called Saat Raasta.
A view of Dhobi Ghat from the Bridge
 The place is a sight. Everywhere there are tiny cubicles where dhobis, the Indian term for washermen, wash clothes. Clothes are soaked, washed, flogged and hung to dry. A nice mosaic is formed from the same.
Washing Stations at Dhobi Chat
 The clothes that the dhobis wash come from hospitals and hotels. They are washed in concrete wash basins. This is the world’s largest outdoor laundry.
Clothes drying at Dhobi Ghat
 When I saw them washing the clothes, I thought that I would personally prefer to wash my clothes myself when my washing machine conks off, instead of giving the job to the dhobis. Otherwise, I won’t have my clothes back in one piece.
White Linen drying at Dhobi Ghat
The dhobi ghat is a very famous tourist spot. Lots of tourists come here to click pictures and see the dhobis in action. The place is also featured in a number of advertisements, movies and television shows.

Kanheri Caves

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My ex- colleague, Nimish, and I set out to see Kanheri Caves which are located in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, popularly known as the Borivali National Park.

Kanheri Caves
The caves are located around 6 km from the entrance of the Borivali National Park and around 7 km from Borivali station.
Road leading to Kanheri Caves in the National Park
We bought an entry ticket to the National Park. It was a two-hour trek to reach our destination, Kanheri Caves. It was fun walking in the Park. We hoped to see some wild animals along the way. But sadly all that we got to see were a few monkeys.
Monkey spotted on the way
We bought some fruits from a tribal woman who lived in the forest. Even as she sold us the fruits, which kept us going along the two-hour hike, she regaled us with stories of what it is like to live in the forest. She talked about the difficulties they face on a daily basis, considering that they live in such close proximity to wild animals. I was amazed to hear some of the stories that she told us. She and the people of her tribe are indeed brave to be living so dangerously.
Road leading to Kanheri Caves
We had refreshments at the entrance of Kanheri Caves and then proceeded to see the caves. There were quite a few people up there to see the caves. Surprising! There are around 109 caves in there but they are not positioned in numerical order.

Photos of Caves Below

Carvings behind the Stupa in a Cave
These caves, built between the 1st and the 9th centuries, were carved by Buddhist monks out of basalt rock formation. They were used for the purpose of meditation, study and for habitation. Some of the caves were beautifully carved. These caves are very well planned as they had a very good canal system and cisterns that collected all the rain water.

Photos of Carvings on the Cave Walls

The caves had well-cut stairs in the rocks leading to the top of the mount. There is a prayer hall within, known as Vihara in Sanskrit. All the caves consisted of Spartan beds used for meditation purposes.
Steps cut out in the Rocks
I felt very sad on seeing the way the caves were maintained, but nevertheless the good thing is that they have lasted this long and that people return to see them. It took us around 3 hours to see all the caves. Tired and exhausted we returned to the entrance of Kanheri Caves to have our dose of refreshments and then decided to get back home.
A view of the City from Kanheri Caves
Kanheri Caves is a haven for picnickers, especially in the rainy season when a number of waterfalls make their appearance.
Me sitting at the banks of the stream
We had to walk down 2 hours to reach the entrance of Borivali National Park. We did a detour on the way and decided to spend some time at one of the streams running through the park. It was fun sitting at the banks of the stream with our feet in the water with the little fish playing around our feet. That was like a good natural massage for our feet.

Didn’t want to move out of the water. But had to go as it was getting dark, so we headed   back home.

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