Onward to Elephanta Island

Mid morning on a hazy day, we hopped out of our Uber at the Gateway to India. We quickly went through security and crossed over the huge plaza that was only just waking up, trying to find the ferry pier that goes to Elephanta Island.

The ticket taker took one look at us and without a word motioned down a ramp leading towards a ferry that looked already full.

We sat down on a flat orange liferaft. One minute later we were backing out of the slip. Someone said, “I hope this is going to Elephanta Island.” I hope so too, I smiled, and said, “Well, that was well planned.”

The ferry was barely making five knots through the harbor but I didn’t care. I had entered my happy place, in a boat on the ocean. Although it would be hard to find a more industrialized harbor.

We motored for about an hour. After disembarking we found you could wait in a line to buy a ticket, then wait in another line to board a tiny train to ride the one kilometer to the base of the hill. Or you could walk down the long pier past dozens of chatty venders where “no thanks” doesn’t seem to translate. I don’t know about you but running into a row of palanquins at the base of the hill to schlep some putz up to the top was a shock. Can you imagine?

This is where the vendor density and the pitch of the stairs increased exponentially and before long I no longer had the breath to say “no thanks.” I just grimaced and slowly plodded up.

When we gained the summit we found an unoccupied bench in the shade and sat for a while, breathing deeply and finishing the water bottle.

After our vision cleared we realized we were at the entrance to the main cave. The monkeys realized we had a small bag with a few snacks and we sensed they were planning something nefarious.

Time to visit the caves.

It’s hard to believe this was chiseled out of solid rock in the 5th century.

The main cave is 39 meters deep and over 9 meters tall so it’s no small thing.

Every cave had a phallic symbol, don’t know why.

Resting under a fine shade tree, enjoying a nice hill top breeze we still made sure we knew what the monkeys were up to.

A large multigenerational family near us were not as alert and sure enough we heard a scream and saw a monkey zoom up the tree with a very large Tupperware container filled with what was to be their entire family’s picnic lunch. These families take picnicking seriously. He balanced the tub in the crook of the tree and at his leisure picked through the best stuff. They all stood under the tree watching helplessly as the monkey would occasionally drop something. I don’t think they’re getting that plastic tub back either.

On the way back to the boat we stopped for a late lunch at an open air restaurant with a view. I do so enjoy a good view.

The press of humanity coming up was much more intense now and once again I’m reminded of the 1.4 billion humans that call this place home. Back at the end of the pier we found a ferry just beginning to load so this time we got a seat.

Now we had to motor into a light breeze but the Arabian Sea remained benign and aside from watching a huge container ship creep ever closer to us, we reached the harbor in just over an hour.

Before long the skipper had us tied up to the pier.

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