The heat was tangible, even though it was 5 a.m. as we made our approach, through masses of anchored ships and fishing vessels, towards the Mumbai pilot station. This was located deep inside the buoyed approach channel and I had, for prudence, made a planned speed of 12 knots through this congested area. It was a ‘comfortable’ speed, shallow waters and concentrations of vessels do not make for fast speed.
Sunrise as we sailed up channel, passing anchored ships and rigs while we did so. They ‘work’ cargo like this, discharging cargo into or out of, barges.
The flood-tide was pushing us north as we turned into the approach channel. It has a dredged depth of 7.6 m of water, our draft, 8.0 m, so obviously, we needed some additional water under the keel, hence waiting for the tide to give us that safety ‘cushion’. The same when we leave tonight, we have delayed our departure until 9 p.m., then the tide will give us the same ‘cushion’.
So, my turn on the 19th, Gerd’s on the 20th, (I am writing this on the 20th). First, that pesky Immigration procedure; although we ‘entered’ India in Cochin, there is an entirely separate process for Mumbai, hence having to go through the face-to-face yet again. 😥
That having been (eventually) achieved, time to get off. We planned to start at the Taj Mahal Hotel, it makes for a comfortable base and, as we intended to go to Elephantra Island, handy for the ferry. The ‘Taj’ has been beautifully reconstructed since the terrible attack there and security is (obviously) very tight. Nevertheless, many guests go there, some to enjoy the amenities and restaurants, others to have suits and jackets made, (measured and ready in 4 hours!), while more will have lens’s made for their glasses.
Refreshed, it was 34ºC (95°F) and as humid as a bath, we set off, around towards the ‘Gateway to India’, a massive arch, erected in 1911 I believe, during the heady days of British Empire. Constant ‘attention’ from street-hawkers becomes tedious and annoying, one cannot go a few yards without being approached, it is going to continue all day, so one might as well get used to it, it’s India after all.
One used to be able to walk straight out of the hotel and over to the Gateway to India; not so any more, there are barricades everywhere, armoured cars discreetly parked in back-streets and armed soldiers. Being a Brit, one is used to it, our airports are like this and I was brought up during the IRA bombing campaigns, so one ‘sort of’ gets used to it, a necessity in the days in which we live.
Anyway, onto lighter matters; a walk under massive Banyan trees and into a security check-point before walking onto the square surrounding the ‘gate’. Down to the ticket office and purchase the ferry tickets for Elephanta, 160 rupees for the ‘luxury’ ticket, ($2.70). We never found out what the ‘luxury’ was, (as opposed to the cheaper ‘Economy’ at 100 rupees), because we were all crammed together on the same deck 😕 Some photos as we walked to the ferry and on it.
A 1½-hour ferry ride to Elephanta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its Hindu carvings which are situated in caves. Disembarking the ferry, it’s a melee, (Indians don’t queue, nor do they ‘give-way’, it’s everyone for themselves and one quickly learns that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em) 👿
A long walk along a pier awaits, or the alternative is a train; so having learned that when it arrived, it would be dog-eat-dog, the rule of “gross-tonnage” came to the fore, i.e. We were bigger than them and weight counted; seats were ‘obtained 🙄
When one reaches the terminus, the inevitable stalls await and a long walk, up 120 steps, in the heat, to the caves themselves. We pass cows and goats, the cows being sacred to Hindus and they regularly receive morsels of food from the passing Indian tourists.
Up the 120 steps, by which time my cotton shirt is drenched and into the cool of the caves. before doing so, the entire stairway is lined with stalls; one has to go through the same ritual at each one, “no thank you, no thank you”, wish I had a tape I could play…..
There are monkeys, which will snatch water bottles and, surprisingly, have learned to open them.
Some wonderful signs, noted during the day.
By now we were hungry and found a wonderful establishment, “Leopold’s” which describes itself as a cafe, however it boasts and extensive menu. I love curry and had eaten it for breakfast, lunch and dinner when I sailed with Indian crew, so my choice was obvious, a mutton Rogan Josh, which was to die for, superb. Suitably replete, a taxi to Crawford market. My objective? Spices for curry, I make it at home and have several friends who demand, no less, to let them know when I’m making one…
The ladies looked at gazillion jewelry stores while I assumed the usual role, waiting outside….. 🙄
Then, back to the ship, some photos through the taxi window, apologies for the quality.
And so, that’s it for a while. We leave at 9 p.m. this evening, bound across the Indian Ocean, 2 days at sea beckon.