Mumbai Darshan

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Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bangalore to Mumbai and back


Bombay was originally seven islands of Colaba, Fort, Byculla, Parel, Worli, Matunga and Mahim. Now, it is no more an island. It is a sort of peninsula. Its early inhabitants were KOLIS or fishermen. Bombay was a part of the Mauryan Empire. It was under Silhara kings. On Dec 23, 1534 Sultan Bahadurshah ceded Bombay to D. Joas III King of Portugal.

In 1549 the islands of Bombay were handed over in perpetuity to one Dr. Pracia da Orta for a yearly Quit rent of 85 sterling. In 1625 an Anglo-Dutch fleet captured Bombay Fort by a surprise attack, but they looted the island, and left suddenly. On June 23, 1661 King Charles II of England married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal and island of Bombay was given in dowry to King Charles II. Thus Bombay went to the British by an alliance of marriage. In 1668, by a royal charter, Bombay was handed over to the East India Company. Sir George Oxenden was the first Governor of Bombay.

Plan & Preparation

After all excuses to miss going to Mumbai were exhausted, I decided to go there. In a few days, my ‘chikkappa’ were shifting to Bukkambudhi and before that happened, I was supposed to see Mumbai. We reserved tickets on-line on May 7th for the Bangalore-Dadar Special train, scheduled to leave at 3:15pm.

I took as less clothes as I could, novel, cassettes, Walkman, food for the journey and cash. Bharath came a couple of days before the journey. Packing went on smoothly.


Dad dropped us of in Bangalore-City station. The train left as scheduled at 3:15pm. Here’s a brief account of our journey towards Mumbai:

The lower berths belonged to us. Two aunties who boarded in Bangalore itself occupied the middle berths. The top and the side berths would be occupied later at Raichur. So, we were only 4 of us in the compartment.

The first station after Cantonment where the train stopped was Hindupur (A.P.). It was 5:10pm. The halt was for 5 mins. We had dip-tea and a few chocolates and gums.

We reached Dharmavaram junction at 6:40pm. Again the halt was for 5 mins. Bharath and me passed our time by reading, listening to cassettes or talking to each other. The evening weather was cool, the journey comfortable.

We reached Anantpur at 7:36pm halt being for 7 mins.

As the train left Anantpur and moved on towards Gooty, an unforgettable incident took place. A lady walked up towards me, waving her hand as though she knew me. She came and stood very close to me, clapped her hands once, and demanded money. I was perplexed. It did not take me much time to realise that she was a ‘khoja’. But I did not know what to do under such a circumstance, as I had heard some scary stories about them. I just looked outside the window. Obviously, she (or he) was annoyed, said something and just went away. My mouth had gone dry. I just hoped that this would not happen again. Then, we had dinner at 8:30pm.

We reached Gooty at 9:20pm. The halt was for 8 mins.

I was feeling sleepy by the time we reached Guntakal junction at 9:55pm. The train stopped for 15 mins. I then fell asleep.

Suddenly I began to feel thirsty. Our water supplies were exhausted and not a single shop was open in any station. Somehow, I tried to sleep and forget the thirst; we reached Raichur at 12:30pm. There was a din, people rushed into our compartment, switched on lights, waking everyone up. Even though the train moved on, the people who occupied the remaining berths in our compartment, kept shifting places, and refused to remain silent. I thought of complaining to the TC, but they finally settled down. I went back to sleep. The train was moving really really fast, and I was a bit scared that it might get derailed.

The train had stops at Wadi and Gulbarga, but we weren’t awake. When the first rays of the sun hit my eye, I woke up. The time was 6:15pm. We had reached Solapur. The train stopped for a long time – about 42 mins. The previous day the train was almost an hour behind schedule. This day, it was almost 45mins ahead of schedule. That was why there was a long stop at Solapur. We just washed our face, and then had tea.

The next stop was at Daund at 9:30pm. The train was going really fast now. We had breakfast. I was slowly getting sick of the travel. The halt at Daund was an unbearable 80 mins.

We reached Pune at 11:40 pm. Again the halt was a long one – for 60 mins. I realised that, since the train was going faster than scheduled, so the time was being adjusted in this manner. I was by now, getting sick and tired of the long journey, and only hoped that it would reach Dadar fast enough.

I was just relaxing, when suddenly I heard noises, and was shocked to see 4 ‘khojas’ in our compartment. One especially was really tall, and spoke roughly. The lady next to us gave 2 bucks, only to receive curses from the ‘khojas’. I certainly did not want to mess with them, so I gave them 6 bucks. They kept on insisting that I give them 11 bucks, but finally they gave up, and went away. So this was a great start to Mumbai trip. Expecting more ahead, I recovered from the shock and the journey went on.

We reached Lonavala at 1:55pm and Karjat at 2:55pm. We passed through Diva junction that is famous for it’s tunnels. We had chapattis for lunch that tasted like rubber.

We reached Kalyan junction at 3:45pm. So, the plan did not change. We would get down at Dadar and catch a train to Mira road. If the train had reached Kalyan late, we would have had to get down at Kalyan, go to Thane, and then catch a bus to Mira road.

Finally Dadar came. And in time too. 4:34pm. We got down, climbed the over-bridge down to the other side, purchased tickets and rushed down to the local train that was waiting. We were just in time. The pick-up of the train was marvellous. And another thing that was marvellous was we boarding to a First Class compartment. No wonder it was not packed with people. Luckily, we were not caught. We got down safely at Mira Road, boarded a share-auto to Sheetal Nagar, a 3-minute drive.

I was already soaking wet because of the humidity, my clothes were dirty and stained. We reached the Trimurthi Apts and I collapsed in chikkappa’s house. Drinking cold water now felt like going to heaven. The tiresome journey ends here.

The first day (8th May)

Did nothing. I was quite tired. Just played a few indoor games with Sumanth, watched TV. Stayed inside the house the whole day. Chikkappa came home at around 7 pm. I discovered 2 things characteristic of Mumbai. The first, that days are really long in summers. The sun sets only at around 7:45pm. The second, that Mumbai never seemed to sleep. Roadside vendors stayed on till around 1:30 am, and customers too were seen during that time. The day passed off just by chatting. I hadn’t been introduced to the actual weather of Mumbai as yet.

The second day (9th May)

It was early morning, at around 6 am, and I was sweating profusely. In Mumbai, early mornings are really uncomfortable. The only fan in the hall hardly provided any air, and I could not sleep any further. After bath, I seemed to be a lot more comfortable. I shaved off my beard as I was already looking like a ‘mohalla rowdy’, with beard and a sweat covered body. The whole day was spent by playing carom, listening to cassettes and reading. I longed to go out. As the skies darkened, chikkappa took us out for a walk around Mira Road. I was surprised to see apartments everywhere, and later realised that single houses (or row houses) were only owned by rich people, as land was really costly there. We had an ice cream, and I feeling better after the walk, went back home and had a nice cold bath (bathing 4-5 times a day is something common for a Mumbaian).

The third day (10th May)

Chikkappa was free today, and it was decided that we give a visit to the Science centre in Worli. We got down at Mahalaxmi (not to forget the confusions in the local train, where we got separated) and reached Worli by a taxi. It was around afternoon. The Science centre was not even half of Bangalore’s Vishweshvaraiah Museum. But it was good enough. We had a look at all the exhibits, and a few, I noticed, were quite interesting. Then, we had some snacks, and immediately boarded a train to Churchgate station – the last station of Mumbai. This place was famous for shopping and the place was rightly called as ‘Fashion Street’. We did a few purchases there. I for myself was amazed to get novels at cheap rates. After buying a few clothes for myself, we went on towards Marine Drive. It’s now called Netaji Subhas road. It was very refreshing here, no wonder it is one of Mumbai’s favourite evening resorts. And as night falls, the entire Marine drive gets lit up; far away are the Chowpatty leading to Malabar hill. Because of the gleaming lights, the place is also called as Queen’s necklace. It was one of the few places in Mumbai, whose experience still remains fresh in my mind. This was the last place for today, after which, we went on, back to Mira road.

The fourth day (11th May)

We had absolutely nothing to do on this day. So the three musketeers (Bharath, Sumanth and me) went on to BoriVali. Maybe because of a police raid, all roadside shops were closed. So, we went back to Fashion Street in Churchgate, did a bit of shopping, and returned home. I was beginning to feel sick of shopping for clothes, but could not find anything else worth buying there. In the evening, chikkappa took us around Mira Road once again. We had samosas, and then Mumbai’s special – Malai ka gola. It simply tastes amazing. Very refreshing, especially due to the hot weather there. And, it is so easy to prepare. If you go to Mumbai, don’t forget tasting the ‘Malai ka gola’. We went back home (and bathed of course).

The fifth day (12th May)

Morning went off smoothly. We idled the time by watching TV or playing something. Few fights with Sumanth were common. In the evening, Bharath and me went to Monday market in Mira Road. It was nothing special, but the crowd amazed me. It was as though half of Mumbai’s population descended down to the Monday market. We had pani-puris, and this was the day I met Emmy aunty for the first time (Chikkappa’s immediate Christian neighbour). She was very nice, and socialised very well too. We played carom again. That was the end of the day.

The sixth day (13th May)

The three of us went to Jogeshwari, for getting Sumanth’s transfer certificate endorsed. The day was hot as usual. It was a long walk from Jogeshwari. We were again made to wait there. That was when I tasted the cheaper roadside ‘gola’. It was equally refreshing too. After the endorsement, we went to Andheri for booking return tickets for Sumanth and me to Bangalore. But, because of the rush, we decided to book tickets at Bhayandar. We enquired about Chalukya and Kurla express trains. But we were in the waiting list. Without booking the tickets, we returned back to Mira Road. We had forgotten to inquire about the Dadar-Bangalore special train. We also booked tickets for the Mumbai-Darshan organised by Neeta travels. The darshan was for the next day, early in the morning.

The Real Mumbai Darshan (14th May)

The bus was scheduled to arrive at Mira Road at 6:15am. But the idiot came at 7:10am. Bharath and me were given the seats in the last row. The places we visited in Mumbai darshan are as follows:

First place was shown to us in the bus itself – the golf ground wherein the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was shot.

The first destination was the Mahalaxmi temple, the 2nd biggest temple in Mumbai. We stopped there from 9:55-10:20 am. There was nothing much to see in the temple other than the view of the Worli sea face.

From the bus, many places like the American Embassy, singer Mukesh’s apartments, Ratan Tata’s bungalow, Girgaon beach were shown.

The next destination was a boating camp, actually set up by Sunil Shetty, the flop actor. The motorboat was costly, and resembled more like a ferry. The halt was from 10:47-11:28am.

In a few minutes time, we reached Kamala Nehru Park, beside which were the Boot House and the Hanging Gardens. The halt was from 11:55 – 12:18am. What really surprised me was the fact that gardens like these were places of attraction in Mumbai. This was when I really began to appreciate Bangalore as the Garden City. We just took a few snaps, had a walk and returned to the stuffy bus.

On they way, we saw a lot of buildings like the SBI, Mantralay, Assembly Hall, Express towers, the Air-India building, BSE, Mumbai high court (Sanjay Dutt’s sasural as it is called). We stopped at Majestic hotel for lunch. The time given to us was from 1:45 to 2:40pm that also included a visit to the Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalay situated near the hotel.

The vastu sangrahalay (previously called Prince of Wales museum) was really impressive; especially because of it’s sculptures, paintings and antiques. It resembled much like the museum I had seen at Dharmasthala. The display of daggers, swords, pistols, spears and other items were awesome. Some swords were as long as 6ft in length. Other glass sculptures, artwork and antiques were splendid. But it was time to return, and we had to rush back to the bus.

During the journey, we also saw Lata and Usha Mangeshkar’s apartments, Mumbai’s biggest hospital-Jaslok hospital and other buildings of importance.

Our next stop was at Nehru Planetarium from 3:10-4:05pm. The show was on the Solar System. Again, I felt that the planetarium at Bangalore was a lot better than in Mumbai. The show was good. We rushed back to the bus.

Now, we were shown some interesting places like the Shivaji Park, where Tendulkar and Agarkar practised their cricket, ShahRukh Khan and Rekha’s bungalows, Salman Khan’s apartments, Amitabh’s blue mini bus and the 2 bungalows he owned.

The final stop was at ISKCON temple. The halt was from 5:40-7pm, which also included the Juhu Beach, which was a 5-minute walk from the temple. We spent much of our time in the beach itself, where we had ice cream. I went out for a long walk near the shores. The return journey was long and uncomfortable. The bus stopped near MTNL itself. We related our story to chikkappa, and tired from the journey went off to sleep early. Moreover, the next day, we were supposed to go to a water-park called ‘Great Escape’ in Virar.

The Great Escape (15th May)

Great Escape is a small water kingdom, an hour’s journey from Virar. Chikkappa, Bharath, Sumanth, me and Chikkappa’s friend’s family met at Mira Road station, boarded a local train to Virar, and went to the water park by an auto. We reached the place by 11:30am, in time for breakfast. It consisted of lemonade, uppit and jalebis. After breakfast, it was enjoyment in the park. An account of how I enjoyed there is as follows:

The park was quite small, but the water slides were really huge, very scary too when compared to ‘Black Thunder’ I had seen in Coimbatore.

The first slide was a swirling one that threw me from place to place and landed me on water, which was less than 3ft in depth.

The other set of slides were more straight, and steep, and was absolutely scary. Moreover, when I landed on the pool below, I used to hit the ground with a thud because the water was not deep enough.

The best slide I went in was known as the ‘Black Hole’. It was actually a tunnel, which was dark and eerie. The force with which it carried us was awesome.

The other attractions were slides wherein we sit on rubber tubes. A couple of them were good, but only for a short period.

Lunch was excellent. Puris, rice items, mango milk shakes, everything were better than the best.

In the evening, tasty snacks were awaiting us that consisted of golas, cotton candies, vada-pavs, pav-bhaji, bhel, you name it, and you get it. We really felt that the money we paid here was worth it.

We returned, tired, to Virar by bus, and then went on to Mira Road by local train. From Mira Road to Sheetal Nagar by auto and walked towards the Trimurthi Apts. So, that was 4 kinds of transportations in a single day

My body was aching and we decided to have a long sleep that day.

The ninth day (16th May)

Tired from yesterday’s enjoyment, we did nothing today. Just eat, sleep, shit or watch TV. In the evening, we went for a short walk, did a bit of shopping and returned home.

The tenth day (17th May)

Again, there was nothing much to do this day. In the morning, tired from the humid weather, we Bharath, Sumanth and me went to the Corporation Bank. The AC atmosphere made us shiver (for the first time in Mumbai). In the evening, we had a walk to Chikkappa’s friend – Mr.Dixit’s house. We played a few games there, and returned home.

The eleventh day (18th May)

Fights continued with Sumanth. Today, it got a little bad. Went on to play carrom. That too resulted in blows towards the end. In the evening, Bharath, Chikkappa and I went to Shrishti – a temple that actually is a part of ISKCON. The statues were good, better than that in Bangalore. But the mosquitoes attacked us from all sides. Singers and dancers were many, which is usual in these ISKCON temples. We also ate another special snack – dhabeli. It was really good. It’s a pity that we don’t find them in Bangalore.

The twelfth day (19th May)

Chikkappa told us to go watch a movie. He suggested ‘Armaan’, but instead we went to the morning show of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The theatre was called Movie-Gem, situated in BoriVali, near Hotel Ravindra. The film was good, actually very good. I also had the opportunity to travel by the ‘BEST’ bus. Slept heavily in the afternoon. Idled away the time afterwards.

The thirteenth day (20th May)

Gradually, my trip to Mumbai began to come to a close. We did not go to any other place this day. Played carrom again. It was the only enjoyment.

The fourteenth day (21st May)

Nothing to do other than packing. Evening, we went to BoriVali as chikkamma had some shopping to do. The entire evening was spent in shopping. The large crowd and rush irritated me a lot. I was happy to go back home.

The fifteenth and final day (22nd May)

This night, we were supposed to leave for Bangalore. I just did the last packing. Evening, chikkamma and Bharath prepared lunch for us. Chikkappa, who was refusing to drop us to Dadar, finally gave in. Bharath, chikkappa, Sumanth and me went to Dadar at around 11pm. We were still on the RAC list, but later our berths got confirmed. We bid chikkappa and Bharath goodbye. The train came at around 11:25pm. Departure was at 11:55pm.

The return journey (23rd May)

Return journey was quite boring, what with Sumanth explaining about trains, routes, buses, and about the greatness of Mumbai. We reached the following stations on the way:

Kalyan at 12:45am
Karjat at 1:46am, after which we slept. So, we missed the stations of Lonavala and Pune.
Daund at 5:50am
Solapur at 10:14am
Gulbarga at 12:33pm
Wadi junction at 1:36pm. Here, the stop was a long one, for about an hour.
Raichur at 4:20pm
Guntakal junction at 7:25pm
Gooty at 8:40pm
Anantpur at 9:39pm

I slept for some time, so I missed Dharmavaram. The train was supposed to reach Bangalore at 4 am. But, it picked up speed during the night.
We reached Hindupur at 12:38am. So I guessed that we would reach Bangalore at the worst possible time. Sumanth went back to sleep, as I waited for Bangalore.

The train stopped ‘just like that’ in Bangalore East for 25 mins. Finally Bangalore Cantonment came at 3:08am. So, we had to get down.

The autos demanded exorbitant money, but we had no choice, especially on a cold Bangalore morning at 3pm. I had a nice peaceful sleep till 10am.

So there ends my trip to MumbaI