India, mumbai, people, traveling, Uncategorized

Chai, cigarette and Cricket!

Indian men are fond of 3 things. Drinking tea, Smoking cigarette and talking about cricket!

Yes, People here are crazy about tea and cricket. Cigarette maybe little less, though. These 3 things work best to strike a conversation with a total stranger in India.

I would like to narrate an incident which made me realized how true this is!

My friend Dev invited me to watch a cricket match in a restaurant. It was semi – finals of India vs. West Indies. I instantly said yes and then regretted for not being able to deny. I wondered what I will do sitting between 4 walls staring at the TV. I wasn’t very keen to go, but since I said yes, I had to.

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SOURCE : Google Images

Indians had a good start with batting. I could see the room filled with men staring at the TV as if they are watching porn. Dev and Ismial (my other friend) were constantly chatting about cricket. Who should bat first, who is the bowler, what was the score last time, debating on every player, etc. Their conversation was so intense that I couldn’t even take part in it. I was like that clueless little kid sitting in one corner. Maybe, because I had zero knowledge about cricket, I could not talk much. The first inning ended very smoothly with a decent score from Indians.

Everyone started getting up on break after first innings to freshen and pee. No this was not a theater with an interval break, Lol. Anyways, the 2nd inning started. Everyone was gripped in their seat. Slowly but steadily West Indies were making up with the score of Indian. Every 4s and 6s removed Uhh and Ahh from us.

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Source : Google Images

I was just relaxed, enjoying my food and drink that suddenly, A loud noise stuck my eardrum and I was deaf for 2 seconds. All the guys in the room were shouting and dancing. The first wicket had fallen. But the match was not yet over and they were still playing very well. The last five over’s were the most dramatic. People were so involved that you could feel the intense emotion of joy and disappointment together! It was like stepping into the shoes of the cricketers them self.

Even dot balls were cheered!  As soon as a wicket was taken, everyone shouted as if they won some lottery. Normally people mind their own business in a restaurant. But here, all the strangers were cheering together for India as if they knew each other for years.

India lost the match. As soon as the match was over, the whole room got empty within just 5 mins! Our friend Ismial was having ‘loss of India’ blues very badly. You just can’t make a difference between him and a guy who has just had a breakup.

This whole episode made me realize how Indian men are crazy behind cricket and how passionately people talk about it.

Not just cricket, While hanging out with friends I have seen people gelling up while asking for lighter or cigarette. I don’t smoke, but I have seen how seamlessly people hang out while smoking.

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Source : Google Images

Yeah, I can say that after cricket, Tea is the best thing on which you can strike up a conversation with a stranger. It is like a secret weapon for a traveler in India. In a strange land, I always have chai at a tea stall and randomly try to talk with people.

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Source : Google Images

In India “The way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach” and “The way through a man’s heart is through Chai, sutta and cricket ;)”

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Backpacking, exploring, traveling, unexplored places, village

Mitti di khusbu Tarapur ki

“The slow life of the villagers and the peace,

That familiarity of the site,

The pleasant smell of the mud and our very own people.”

We all have nostalgia of our village place. But when you ask someone when was the last time she visited her native place and the standard reply will be – “oh! It’s been more than a decade now!”
Even I am one of those people who haven’t visited its village since years. Growing in a metropolitan city, I am never use to open spaces, less people and peace.
It’s not that I haven’t visited any village, my trekking adventure gives me enough chances to explore villages, but I am always in a hurry to move from one place to another or to complete the trek.

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This time breaking from our itinerary while going on a trek, I along with my 2 other friends decided to explore a nearby fort. It was in a village called Tarapur. We hopped on a rustic village bus going towards Tarapur. The bus journey zoomed through open fields, lush greenery, narrow roads and through a number of rickety shops.

I was just enjoying the empty bus with pleasant breeze that suddenly the bus got flooded with school going kids. Everywhere inside I could see the kids in their snow white shirt and blue shorts. The girls were smiling with their oily hair tied up with red ribbon.
They made sure to make nuisance thought the journey. We reached our destination.
As soon as I got off the bus, the sense of my eyes caught the attention of this unknown place.

The color was quite dusky and dull, but yet interesting.

The air of this place was quite thin, allowing to breath fresh air with the odor of mud.

I could see the slanting slopes of red roof tops.

People had simple cloths and the older ones in their traditional attire.

Kids were running here and there fooling around for no reason.

The lanes were very narrow and houses stuck to each other. You won’t see a single building.

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We had some snacks from a shop and the owner was kind enough to show us the fort. While walking I saw the wooden doors of houses with a chain as a lash to lock it.

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We reached the fort, which was quite in dilapidated condition. Half of it was covered in jungle.

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As we enter the fort, there was a permanent staircase inside the fort like a watchtower or something.

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I quickly climbed up to get a 360 degree view around the fort. It was pleased to see a channel of river flushing itself into the sea.

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I was just enjoying the moment that suddenly a man entered and asked me to get down. He was a cargo officer of Tarapur. He came to verify our identity as he found us suspicious. After checking our ID cards and asking 100s of questions, he explained “No one visit this place for sightseeing as there is nothing interesting to see here”

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We chatted quite a bit about our hometown and the history of the place.
We then moved towards Tarapur beach. The 3 kms walk towards the beach was very pleasant and serene with narrow roads and beautiful meadows.

 

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Like any other beach it had mountains.

People were playing cricket with football.

Some were cycling on Motorbike while others were flying balloons.

At one corner Guys were drinking water with their bodies.

There were same sex couples making out everywhere!

I know, I Know, you just read something weird, that’s what I wanted! 😛

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Adventure, Backpacking, exploring, traveling, unexplored places

Kumbh ke Mele me bichda huva Rahi

 

Travelling is not always about visiting destinations, but also experiencing events. Kumbh Mela, one of the India’s oldest and biggest event in history was this time in Nasik. To visit this place, I had to travel nearly a total of 600kms in one day from Mumbai.
I woke up early morning to catch a train of Tapovan express at 6:40 am from Dadar. A general compartment ticket had cost me just 90 bucks.
But it was a horrific experience! As expected, the general compartments were full and super crowded. (I am sorry to say this for those who may feel offended) The crowd was pretty uncivilized. People were finding their place and sitting on the luggage space above window, hanging stuffs on the grills of fan, sitting on the top of the entry/exit door of the train and whatnot. On the top of it the crowd was a mixture of Maharashtrian and UPs. People were fighting for silly reasons, all around me. If they did not find any space, they sit down on the floor leaving no space for leg moment. My legs got fried standing in the same position for the 3 hour journey.
I started regretting and thinking that even before starting the journey I’m experiencing Kumbh for what it is famous for, crowd!
As soon as I got down at Nasik, the climate dramatically changed. I was feeling much refreshed with the cool breeze and comfortable environment. There were herds of police standing everywhere to control the crowd and because of them there was zero chaos. I had to go Trimbakeshwar which was 15 kms away. There were well marked directions from the platform itself to guide the tourist coming for Kumbh. As soon as I got out of the station, there was a bus waiting to take people all the way till Trimbakeshwar especially for pilgrims. It was comfortable enough for a cozy one hour sleep.

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The road towards Trimbakeshwar

Nasik is much like Pune where it is rapidly getting urbanized, but still has a pleasant climate due to the surrounding mountains and sticking to its ground culture. There were several religious organizations providing free services for the pilgrims coming to Kumbh. At various spots they were providing water and lime juice in the bus. The bus dropped us to a spot near Ajneri. From here we had to walk more 4 kms to reach Trimbakeshwar.
I started walking, there was a friend waiting for me at Trimbakeshwar. Police had a good control over crowd but they were stopping the public at various places. They made many straight paths also lengthy. This made everyone very impatient and angry.
I reached the guest house where my friend was staying. He, along with his other friends recommended me to go towards Juna Akhada where all Naga Baba’s were residing. After all, the temple will be there if I come again. But not those Baba’s.

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The first sight of Naga baba’s

Juna Akhada is a temple situated on a mountain top. It has a Trishul big enough to be visible from a  distance. As soon as I enter the starting point, there was a Bhojnalai providing free food for the pilgrims. I had my lunch there and I must say it was very good. This Bhojnalai is situated on the right side of the entry point of Juna Akhada with the name itself ‘Bhojnalai’.

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Trimbakeshwar city from top

After lunch I went further and I started to see 100s of Naga Baba’s one after the other. Their naked body covered full of white ash, their long dreadlocks and a chillam in their hand made them distinctive. They are quite, they are fearless, they are weird. Yet, they are attractive.

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smoking chillam

I was warned that they do not allow to get themselves clicked and if you want a picture than they demand money. Another way is that they just call you and put some ash on your forehead as a symbol of Lord Shankar forcefully. And then they demand ‘Dakshina’ (Money) from you. Anyways, I asked permission from some baba’s before clicking them and they happily allowed me. There was one particular Baba, who was calling everyone to put some ask on the forehead and then demanding money. I tried to strike a conversation with him and here is what we spoke –
Me – Jai bhole nath.
Baba – jai bhole nath, aur beta kaise ho?
 
Me – bas badiya, baba aapse kuch sawal puchna chahta hu.
Baba – zarur, pucho!
 
Me – aap itne lambe baal, bina kapde aur chillam maarte ho, kya issliye ki bhagwan shiv bhi aise the?
 
Baba – ha beta, aap karte kya ho?
 
Me – kuch nai bas idhar udhar ghumta rehtahu, muje pura duniya ghumna he.
Baba – achha arre wha to tum bhi kyu nai harame jaise ban jate, mere pass aa jao me tumhe tumhare iss pant shirt se mukti dila dunga!
Me – haha…nahi shukriya, aapko ek aur sawal puchna tha, log kumbh me apna paap dhone aate he. Aapko to pehle hi moksh he fir aapko kya zarurat kumbh me aaneki?
 
Baba – beta hum yahape khudke liye nai, puri duniya ka paap dhone aate he. Tum jab paida bhi nai huve the, hum tabse kumbh me ja rahe he.
 
Me – achha. Aap dusre shai snaan me rahoge?
 
Baba – haaji hum tumhe yahi milenge.
Me – shukriya baba (I gave him 10rs and moved on)

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yet another baba

I started heading towards the Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple for which lakh’s of people had come to offer their prayers. When I reached there, I saw a huge chaotic crowd and police desperately pushing everyone to move forward. This temple is one of the 12 joti lings. It looked quite ancient. carved out of stone, and it is!

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Beautiful carvings on Trimbak temple wall

It had a pond in the middle where people took a dip inside to wash their sins. The water was for obvious reasons not clean. I had left my footwear near a Banyan tree. When I went back to wear it, it was not there! Someone told me that all the unknown footwears are taken to the backside of the temple by the authorities. I went there just to see a huge pile of footwears! I was desperately searching for my sandal, and it took me a good 20 mins. Mission successful! Phew!

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Trimbakeshwar temple

I was happy! I was enjoying every moment of this trip and this was only possible because of good arrangements made by Nasik police. It was the occasion of Raksha Bandhan day. Far from their sister’s, they are here just to make sure the journey of pilgrims is smooth. A salute to them!
I wrote a quick letter to the police thanking them for such a brilliant arrangements.

While getting back in the bus I got a companion and we had a good long conversation about trekking and travelling in Marathi. The person was 69 years old but still strong to do any Himalayan trek by his own. Let’s call him T.
T – college madhe aahe ka tu? 
M – nahi me ek adventure company barobar kaam karto aani logana aaple saiyadri pahada madhe trekking sathi gheun jato.
T – arre whha tar tu himaliya madhe gelo ka?
 
M – nahi ajun nahi pan mala karaicha aahe, tumhi gele waatthe?
 
T – arre khuub! Me dar warshe jato aani kedarkanth me 5 wed kelo aahe. Te mala khub aavadte.
 
M – tar tumhi konte konte trek kele aahe aani kuthe kuthe india madhe firle?
 
T – purna 4 dham yatha, khub chote mothe treks himalya madhe aani purna bharat mi firlo aahe.

I was thrilled to meet this 70+ traveler. We talked a lot about various places, family members supporting to travel, and weather a travel planner is necessary or not.

The bus dropped us at a place just before entering the city. From there I walked for an hour just to realize that I am on the wrong bus stand. Somehow I searched my way till Mumbai point. It was already 8 and I was still in Nasik, I mistakenly took a semi luxury bus instead of an ST. The money from my pocket also went out luxuriously. Anyways, comfort also matters sometimes. I met a guy in the bus who was talking with me about all sorts of things like religion, atheism, government, different places, people, career, parental pressure and what not. I asked him his age, he said he was just 15!!!! Wow, I wonder if my brother was so smart then I would probably be hanging around with only him every day.
I was still in the bus at 12:30 am. Looking out of the window enjoying the journey. Then suddenly, the bus stopped with a loud noise of thud at Chembur. The bus can’t go further due to some technical problem, said the conductor. Now I’m stuck at Chembur 1:00am in the night!
With no other option I took a rickshaw till Andheri to reach somehow back.
To my surprise the expenditure fitted my budget exactly!!!

Ps – This adventure was commenced on 29th August, 2015. If you are inspired to go for Kumbh, then the next Kumbh is happening in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) called as ‘Simhastha Kumbh Ujjain’

Simhastha 2016 will begin on 22nd of April and will continue till 21st of May.
here are the useful links for more details –

 http://www.simhasthujjain.in/

http://www.mptourism.com/pdf-html/simhastha/index-su.html#home

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Adventure, Backpacking, exploring, traveling

Daman me Chaman

Daman, A paradise for beach lovers and a perfect destination to get drunk after Goa. But there is a lot more that lies in these twin islands. Daman is divided into 2 parts, i.e., Choti (small) Daman and Moti (big) Daman but ironically Choti Daman is bigger than Moti Daman. One has to plan a 2 day trip to explore everything in Daman.
The nearest station is Vapi. Only passenger/express trains operate. I reached Vapi station at noon and as soon as I came out I found many rickshaw wala’s approaching me. When I asked them, I want to go Daman beach, they demanded a good 200 bucks one way and I was shocked!
Both the different beaches in Choti and Moti Daman are at distance of around 12kms from Vapi station and there is no direct connecting vehicle except rickshaws. This is the reason why they charge so high. But I did not want to spend so much in travelling so I did some research and came to know that I can even reach there by changing between taxi and bus. So I hired a sharing taxi from the Vapi station till bus stop. The taxi driver was quite pessimistic about Daman tourism and said there is nothing interesting here due to ill maintenance.
From bus stand I took a bus to Jampore beach. While I was on my way towards the Jampore beach I noticed a massive huge fort near a football ground. I quickly realized it was Moti Daman Fort about which I had read on the internet! So I quickly got down there and on a bright sunny afternoon I started to click photos of the outer wall of the fort.
The Moti Daman Fort is very massive with beautiful structure. The fort is influenced by Portuguese style and it was actually built to guard against the Mughals. A road is made for vehicles to pass by through its entrance. I found this weird, But then I realized it actually formed an outer wall of a small city.

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Road entrance & Wall of Moti Daman Dort

I wanted to go on the top of the fort. I discovered that there is a way from backside going up towards the fort. The taxi guy had mentioned the fort is not maintained at all. In fact, it was in a very bad state. As I went up I realized that I was alone on such a huge fort. Grasses and small trees had grown everywhere and almost half of the fort from inside is not visible due to these green covers.  I started walking inside and I was literally trying to make my way through the grass. There was a small typical type of crackling noise made by insects in that grass continuously. And it’s enough to scare you. There was nothing interesting to view outside from the fort.

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The uncontrolled growth of grass on the fort

As I was moving ahead, I saw a very strange structure with a cross on it and a cave inside it. It was very small and I was curious, so I went inside. As I went inside I saw many broken pieces of alcohol, bottle and some cloth lying around. I quickly understood that people visit this secret place to drink and sleep.

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The strange structure on the fort

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The cave inside the structure

This fort is very huge and to go from one end to another, I had to literally walk for a km!
It was also little risky and dangerous due to its lonely nature and green cover everywhere. I was very scared to walk. My heart was pumping fast and sweat was flowing out of skin in a flow. The adrenaline rush I was getting inside after I dared to explore its every side was just adventurous!
There was another side of the fort, which had a different entrance. So I started getting down, as I found some young kids from school fooling around. They told me about the cave and I gestured that I already explored it by showing them pictures. I got down and went little forward, I found those same kids again. We decided to go together and explore the other side of the fort. As we were walking we stopped and adored the big beautiful Bom Jesus Church, we moved forward after clicking some pictures.

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Bom Jesus church & my little friends

The structures of High Court and of government bodies were quite interesting. We ended up to a point where there was one more gate. I thought it might be the other side of the fort entrance. But it was actually the exit of the fort and as we came out, I saw a huge sea port. Kids told me that there is bridge to connect to Choti Daman on the other side. I did not mind exploring it, so I first started capturing full view of the sea and then we headed towards Choti Daman. (though I couldn’t explore the other side of the fort) we walked through the bridge which was a look alike of the famous Howrah Bridge in Kolkata.

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The Howra bridge connecting Nani & Moti Daman

It was a short walk. I bid goodbye to my small friends as they had to head home on time. Btw, even I had to go back to home before evening back towards Vapi station. I rushed towards the St. Jerome Fort (or The Sao Jeronimo fort) of Choti Daman. When I reached the entrance of the fort, I stopped to gaze its jaw dropping architectural  beauty. The Portuguese culture could be seen very brilliantly in its fine artistic carvings.

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St. Jerome fort entrance

Like the previous one, this fort was again very huge. I had to walk a lot to explore the whole fort. The good part of this fort is that it was well maintained and no green bushes covering it. But the illiterate public there write names on the fort wall, spoiling its beauty.

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Insides of St. Jerome church

It was already 4 and I had to catch 5:00pm train. I was done with exploring the fort and then I rushed towards the beach, but Jampore beach was too far so I decided to go towards the Devka beach in Choti Daman.
Sharing rickshaw is quite active in Daman. If you try to take a private rickshaw, they charge you a lot.  But if you take sharing rickshaw (though being cheap) it will take a lot of time as they have to wait for other passengers.
So I reached my destination, this beach was actually well maintained. Along with entrance fees you also have to pay camera fees if you want to click photos. And to be honest clicking photos of only this beach for photography is not worth. This beach is very much like Bandstand beach (in Mumbai) with rocks everywhere on the shore. Sitting idly staring at the endless sea and hearing its roaring wave is always a soothing  to eyes and a peace to mind.

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Devka beach

I realized that I only have 45 min’s to reach back to Vapi station, which was 10kms away. I could not afford to miss this train so this time I did not care about money and just hired a private rickshaw to the nearest taxi stand and from there I took a sharing taxi. The roads where much better here compared to Mumbai and I reached station very fast.

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Beautiful Sunset while returning

Though I couldn’t explore everything in Daman, I was much more than satisfied with Daman and I got to know about my inner explorer!

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mumbai, traveling, unexplored places

Slum Dog Millionaire

After watching slum dog millionaire I had some idea about the Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi in Mumbai. I never visited this place as it was famous for dirt, filth and danger. But slowly I developed the curiosity for the place and one fine day I set off to explore this different side of Mumbai.
Dharavi has an active informal economy. It is mainly divided into 3 different Industry. Pottery, textile/leather and plastic recycling.
I boarded an early morning train to kings circle from where I had to go khumbarwada, Dharavi. As I get down, I started asking around for directions and kept walking. It wasn’t difficult to guess the place with the familiarity of the slums and its odor.
To get a view from the top I had to cross a pile of shit. A man was amazed to see my interest in clicking slums.

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A part of dharavi from the top

As I was entering Khumbarwada, there was slight anxiousness in my mind. All that I had heard about Dharavi started to get rewind in the back of my head.
The paths were very narrow and locals were making raw pottery everywhere. As I was walking, I noticed a man stomping in the mud/clay again and again (mud for pottery). It looked exciting, so I requested him to let me also do it…

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Man stomping on clay mud

Me – kya me bhi ye kar sakta hu?
(can I also try this)

Him – nai beta maaf karna me tumhe ye nai karne de sakrlta
(No dear im sorry I cant allow you)

Me – kyu
(But why?)

Him – iske andar kaafi Sara lokhand he jo tumhe lag sakta he
(There are steel pieces inside which can hurt you)

Me – to aapko nai lagta
(Dosnt it hurt you?)

Him – beta mera kaam hi yahi he, lokhand ko mehsus karke bahar nikalna. 25 saal ho chuke muje iss kaam me.
(This is my work, To feel the steel pieces and remove it)

Me – achha! Kya me aapki ek photo le sakta hu?
(ok, atleast I can take a picture of you)

Him – zarur
(yes)

Me – ok, shukriya.
(Alright, Thankyou)

Him – agli baar aaoge to me tumhe pakka karne dunga.
(Next time when you come, I will surely allow you)

 

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Raw pots kept to dry

As I went further the lanes were getting narrower and started becoming a maze. After 15 minutes of wandering I reached the same place from where I had started. Khumbarwada is just a part of Dharavi and it alone has 1400-1500 families. It occupies 22 acres of land.
The smell of the raw pottery, the smoke filling the air and the redness of the pot. All makes a great composition of a picture!

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The pleasant smell of the smoke while making the pot

Some other things I noticed was….
A lady coloring diya’s., a man making diya’s on a wheel. People here are very sweet and are pleased if you ask them permission to click their picture.

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Man shaping the pot while woman coloring it

Dharavi is a mixture of different religions dominated by Hindus and then Muslims.
I started walking on the Dharavi cross road. It was a very long walk. I got to see people from different walks of life. The cross road was very long. I saw a gully going towards a masjid. It was beautiful and I didn’t hesitate to take that path alone.
The place was very filthy and scary but safe.

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A typical Dharavi lane

Back on the road I walked further and finally reached a T junction. Towards right was Sion, and straight went to Matunga station.
I kept walking straight. On the other side of a huge gutter was again a huge hamlet of slums. I entered into the crumbled path of slums again and this time it was different. Here people recycle plastic materials. I entered into one of the workshops where I saw workers dividing and arranging different types of plastics to recycle.

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Plastic recycling workshop

I have little idea about it as my dad has same business. The plastic materials are put into a machine which cuts it into very small pieces. It is then sent for reproduction. These workshops create lots of noise due to its high powered machine. The area is also not much clean as plastics which are brought to recycle are from waste. The Labors are pretty much focused on their work. They did not bother much of my existence.

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Plastic pieces sent for recycling

Even if you are a person who prefers to travel alone like me, I would recommend you to hire a tour group to guide you through Dharavi lanes so that you can understand the place better. They have better reach and connections. It is also pretty safe for women to travel with these groups in Dharavi, while that might not be the case if travelling alone. I found a local guide who gets hired by tour groups to guide their clients. You can directly contact him, here is his number Dinesh – 9004135215. My trip ended at Matunga station with an astonishing South Indian temple.

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Beautiful south Indian temple

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exploring, mumbai, traveling, unexplored places

The secrets of Mandapeshwar (Dahisar caves)

You must have heard about Elephanta caves, Mahakali caves or Kahneri caves in Mumbai. But have you ever heard about caves in Dahisar or Jogeshwari?
Yes, there are caves in Dahisar called ‘Mandapeshwar caves’ which is not known to many. These caves also known as Dahisar caves. Forgotten by time and rapid development, These caves are isolated  between Dahisar and Borivali. ‘Mandap-pe-eshwar’ means hall of paintings of lord. This rock cut cave was built in 8th century. This is the only cave dedicated to Lord Shiva in Mumbai, unlike other caves being Buddhist. It was originally located on the banks of Dahisar river, but later the river changed its course.

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Dahisar River

 

Long back, these caves were used by traders passing by, army men, etc. In the 17th century, these caves were destroyed by the Marathas in fire. Today, the surviving cave’s are preserved by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).  A huge playground is there in front of the cave. Towards west is St. Francis school.
Mandapeshwar caves are located just 1km away from Dahisar station. I did not expect much from this place as other caves under ASI are in a very bad state (specially Jogeshwari caves). But Mandapeshwar was far better than my expectations.

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Caves from the left side

The style of caves is same as other caves. The caves are clean, but all the garbage, cement, extra logistics of labors is stored inside its own smaller caves. I was clicking pictures of sculptures when I was approached to not do it as it is not allowed inside the caves.

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Pillar support from inside

There is a small Shiv Linga at the center of the caves. It is converted into a temple and maintained by the caretaker. The caves towards left consist sculptures of Natraja, Ganesha, Vishnu, Bramha. There is nothing towards the right, just empty caves. There is also an underground well. You may find fishes and turtles.

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Natraj sculpture

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Ganesh sculpture on right side

 

You can climb to the top of these caves from right side. At the top there are ruins left of a much older Portuguese church.  It’s like a mini maze when you enter it. The same ruins built by Portuguese can be found in Vasai fort.

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Portuguese Church from outside

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Portuguese church from inside

I then went to Saint Francis school. The structure is 100 years old. There is a huge church inside and a beautiful sculpture of mother marry is in the middle of the campus. A lovely garden and graveyard is maintained at the backside of the church. This place is very peaceful and best convent school maintained apart from St. Xaviers in vile Parle.

 

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Church in St. Franscis school

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Garden behind the church

Overall I would recommend you to come at least once here but do not expect much.

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mumbai, unexplored places

The hidden mountain called Gilbert Hill

Gilbert hill is a small basalt rock hill (unknown to many) situated inside the fast growing Andheri suburb.  It proudly stands against all illegal encroachments around it.
Under the rampart development of humans, it is quickly getting eroded. But still it gives a beautiful panoramic view of Mumbai. It is a beautiful lotus coming out from a pit of mud.

The rock formation of Gilbert hill is rare and cannot be found anywhere in the world except the Devil’s hill in the USA.

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Wall of Gilbert hill

This place is just a 10 min walk uphill from Andheri station. The area is a quick getaway as it provides refreshing breezes even in summer. This mountain erupted after huge lava broke out destroying Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. In fact, this wasn’t the only mountain standing before, it use to extend to as far as Jogehwari! But except Gilbert hill, all is history under the rampart development of humans. Gilbert hill still continues to shrink. The Government has declared ‘no construction’ around 500m of the hill, but the buildings standing there are barely 100m away.
There is a temple on the hill and the place is beautifully maintained by converting it into a small garden. You have to climb around 150 steps to reach on the top.

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The Temple on the hill top

From the top of the hill you can see Juhu, Andheri east/west, vile Parle, etc. towards Andheri west side you will see large areas of slums. If rumors are to be believed then illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan stays here.

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The vast view of slums from Hill top

Kites, Parrots regularly visit on this hill. The management of this place does not entertain any type of PDA act by couples. Drinking water and washroom is also available on the top. The sunset seen from here is spectacular.

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Serene Sunset

The aarti starts at 7pm in the evening for 15 min’s and you have to attend it if you are on the hill, whether you like it or not. Gilbert hill closes down at 8pm. Watch out your steps in rainy season.

Direction – once you get out of Andheri Station from west side, you will notice MacD on both of your sides. Walk straight till the road and then take a left. Take a right turn from Archie’s store which is just opposite to Nadco shopping center. From here you start ascending uphill. Take second right, which is a 5 min’s climb (there is a beautiful Jamad khana here) and then another 5 min’s straight until you reach the gates of ‘Gao Devi Mandir’. The last five min’s of the walk is filled with a lot of dirt, filth and strong smell of non veg kebab’s on street. You may find this particular area slightly unsafe, but you have to go through it to reach Gilbert hill. Though, I have never experienced any problem visiting this place several times.

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