Sunday, 14 January 2007

Colaba

The southernmost peninsula, known as Colaba, is where most tourists gravitate to as it has a good range of hotels and restaurants and two of the city's best landmarks, the Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal Hotel.


Mumbai's most famous monument, Gateway to India, built in 1911, is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the Raj rule ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianiced, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbor or to Elephanta caves. In the days of the steam liner, the Gateway was for many visitors their first and last sight of India but today it acts purely as a colorful tourist stop, and attracts hawkers, snake charmers, and beggars.

The neighbouring Taj Mahal Hotel was built in 1902 by JN Tata, after he was allegedly refused entry to one of the city's European hotels on account of being 'a native'. It has since turned into a bit of an institution, and the streets behind it have become a Mecca for tourists,

Colaba Causeway could proudly be termed the `Culture Square' of Mumbai. The look and mood are reflective of its cosmopolitan feel; a classic example of the clichéd `East meets West'. The Causeway is a must-see for tourists. People of different nationalities meander through the streets to pick up a souvenir or two. And to cater to this crowd, there are vendors who display authentic Indian ware. So, there is woodwork inlaid with ivory, miniature Taj Mahals, decent imitations of South Indian temple paintings, Kashmiri carpets and shawls that apparently come from Shimla! Further down the Causeway, a mehndiwalla woos foreigners. If oddity excites you, then don't miss out on the stalls that display a motley combination of antique pieces such as gramophones, porcelain door knobs, bugles, colored glass lanterns, nautical sextants, miniature telescopes, compasses and, most importantly, the hookahs. These hookahs, available in several sizes, are generally made of wood or ivory. These aesthetic pieces appeal to users as well as the non-users.


Barely a stone's throw from the Gateway of India, to the North, set in beautiful lush gardens, is the Prince of Wales Museum, a magnificent structure, built in a confluence of Gothic and Moorish styles, and crowned by a sparkling white dome. It boasts a good collection of ancient Indus Valley artifacts dating back to 2000 BC, plus some priceless Tibetan and Nepali Art. There is an entire gallery devoted to Buddhist tankha scrolls and another to Tibetan bronzes, but the chief attraction here is the collection of over 2000 miniature paintings from the various art schools of India.


Nearby the new National Gallery of Modern Art, opposite the Prince of Wales Museum, showcases Indian modern art. Converted from an old public hall, the dynamic, three tiered structure houses collections from India's best known living artists and provides a convenient overview of the country's contemporary art scenario.


To the south is the Sassoon Dock, which at dawn becomes an area of intense and pungent activity as fishing boats arrive to unload their catch.


Hewn out of solid rock, the Elephanta Caves date back to 600 AD, and attract more visitors each year than the entire city of Mumbai. It is situated on Gharapuri Island in Mumbai's harbour, about an hour's boat ride from the Gateway Of India. At the entrance to the caves is the famous Trimurti, the celebrated trinity of Elephanta : there's Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva the Destroyer No wonder: this place resonates with the spiritual energy of India. The cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos arranged in the splendid symmetry of Indian rock-cut architecture, and filled with exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Every year, in February, the Elephanta Dance Festival is held. Renowned dancers and musicians perform outside the caves, beneath a star-studded sky, to an appreciative audience. Special launch services and catering arrangements are provided for visitors.

Bus routes to Colaba 1, 3, 6, 43, 45, 103, 107, 122, 123, 124, 125, 132, 133, 137, 11 Ltd., 21 Ltd, 21 Ltd., 83, 136

Bus routes to Gateway Of India, Prince Of Wales Museum 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 14, 16 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 43, 44, 47, 65, 70, 101, 107, 123, 130, 131, 132

1 comment:

Anandham said...

Hi,
I have created page on Elephanta Festival 207. Check it at
http://anandham.blogspot.com/2007/03/night-at-elephanta-after-escaping-from.html

Thanks
Prem

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