We caught the bus down to the Gateway of India, Lonely Planet recommends you buy boat tickets along the road at the kiosks, we took our chances and went straight to the boats where we got tickets for me and Charlie for 130 Rupees return – Abi was free. I didn’t see a ticket under 300 Rupees at the kiosks.
We sailed out into the Arabian Sea and past all the huge tankers, war ships and even a submarine. About an hour later and we were at Elephanta Island. One of India’s UNESCO world heritage sights it is basically a tropical island that is a mountain. On that mountain are caves where temples have been carved out.
Upon arrival you can get the toy train to the entrance or walk, we walked and it took 10 mins. I got Abi some corn on the cob for 20 Rupees until I realised that the locals were paying only 10 and so paid only 10.
Charlie said that it wasn’t like he expected an island to be, I asked what he expected and he said “A big piece of sand with a palm tree in the middle with coconuts on…” After a deadly silence where I tried to come to terms with what he said I explained that in fact the island we were at was like a jungle on a mountain.
You have to pay a tourism tax of 5 rupees, again they will try and charge for all kids but refuse and thus far I have always been waved on.
The walk up to the caves is up 20 million steps and in 42 degree heat and 95% humidity is actually very difficult. Along the sides of the stairs are many stalls selling everything from handicrafts to wives. Suddenly I hear Abi scream, I turn round and see a monkey on her back munching her sweet corn, my natural instinct was to try and boot it but in true monkey ninja style it was off and seconds later was gurning at Charlie. The problem with monkeys is that they can carry all sorts of diseases and are more than willing to take a bite out of you. The problem with Elephanta Island is that there are hundreds of the things. We did literally see hundreds and got some awesome photos! I just missed one drinking red bull but caught one refreshing himself from a bottle of water (see pic)
Once we had got to the top we were absolutely exhausted and dripping with sweat, it was 250 Rupees in for foreigners and before long we were gazing in awe at the caves and their carvings. Our efforts to do as much as we could were thwarted by the constant need to avoid monkeys and the heat but we did almost all the caves.
Afterwards we headed up to Canon hill which I’ll be honest I wasn’t arsed about, but for some reason the thought of huge guns did it for the kids and sadly the further 1km of uphillness didn’t put them off. It really wasn’t worth the walk but the views were amazing. Past the trees we could see a few km below us the Arabian Sea littered with ships all set against a backdrop of Mumbai, it was certainly impressive and memorable.
We spent most of the day at Elephanta Island and by the time we left we were all sunburned and dripping in sweat. On the boat the kids laughed as the sea hit them in their faces since it was a bumpy crossing.
I was sat trying to avoid the water and was sat thinking of Jack, it was father’s day and I was missing one of my boys
I had hoped Mumbai would come up with something good and it did, it came up with something magical, special, memorable and simply stunning.
It’s just a shame Jack wasn’t there to enjoy it too.