The Mumbai Blog

That’s all I can say after watching Shaka Laka Boom Boom. You can’t find a junkier movie – ever!

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The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai

by Vinaya HS on December 20, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,Travel

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai

The splendid Taj Mahal Palace & Tower standing majestically opposite to The Gateway of India (not seen in this picture, but see below). We had a buffet lunch here (after we came back from Elephanta Island, tired and ravenous) that set us back by Rs. 1100 a head. But it was worth every rupee spent – I could not stop myself from eating a five-dessert course (I can almost hear my ex-Fitness One trainer shouting that I am quite shameless). The fresh watermelon juice was simply out of this world. Ummm…you gotta try it once.

History of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower:

{ from the Taj Hotels website }

Since it opened in 1903, The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai has created its own unique history. From Maharajas and Princes to various Kings, Presidents, CEOs and entertainers, the Taj has played the perfect host, supportive of their every need.

Built in 1903, the hotel is an architectural marvel and brings together Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles. Offering panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India, the hotel is a gracious landmark of the city of Mumbai, showcasing contemporary Indian influences along with beautiful vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, graceful archways, hand-woven silk carpets, crystal chandeliers, a magnificent art collection, an eclectic collection of furniture, and a dramatic cantilever stairway.

Over the past century, The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai has amassed a diverse collection of paintings and works of art and is a veritable showcase of artifacts and art of the era. From Belgian chandeliers to Goan Christian artifacts, the hotel incorporates a myriad of artistic styles and tastes.

The famed central tower.

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and The Gateway of India – two to tango!

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai

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Swami Vivekananda Statue

by Vinaya HS on December 20, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog



Swami Vivekananda has his own address on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Mumbai – 400 001. He stands facing the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue that you recently saw here.

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A Brief History of Elephanta Caves

by Vinaya HS on December 19, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,Travel

History: Elephanta Caves, Rock-Cut Temples

Click for a full-size image.

Western India is famous for a string of rock-cut temples ranging in date from the 2nd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. Around Bombay alone, one can see within a radius of 20 kms several of them including the Buddhist rock-cut temples of Kanheri and Kondivite and the brahminical caves of Elephanta, Mandapesvar, and Jogesvari.

The island of Elephanta, originally known as Gharapuri, derives its name from a massive stone elephant now displayed in the Victoria Gardens in Bombay. Except for a few Kshatrapa coins of the 4th century A.D. found here nothing is known of the history of Elephanta prior to the defeat of Mauryan rulers of Konkan by the Chalukyan emperor Pulikesin II of Badami in a naval battle for the island in 635 A.D.

There are three caves (rock-cut temples) out of which one is dedicated to Siva. Others are of no particular interest. The main cave datable to the mid 7th century A.D. comprises of a pillared hall in which a small shrine with four entrance doors flanked by Guardians (Dvarapals) is situated. It is a unique example of a happy blending of the Gupta and Chalukyan arts. While the massive but graceful figures of divinities and guardians and certain architectural features such as square pillars with cushion-capitals suggest Chalukyan influence, the depiction of mountains and clouds and the hair style of women are reminiscent of Gupta art.

The sculptured panels depict Siva as Anugrahamurti (bestower of gifts) or Samharamurti (destroyer of evil and ignorance). The figure of Mahesamurti (as Siva is called when all the three aspects of creation, protection, and destruction are combined), in the central panel of the back wall is a masterpiece of Chalukya-Gupta art. His calm face in the centre represents the protector, while his ferocious face on the left depicts Bhairava (responsible for destruction), and the one on the right having a gentle feminine look is that of Vamadeva (responsible for creation).

Other important panels on the side walls are those of Yogisvara (Lord of Yoga), Nataraja (cosmic dancer), Ardhanarisvara, Gangadhara, and Ravananugraha Siva. The circular pedestal in the open courtyard marks the seat of Nandi (Bull), the vehicle of Siva.

The side cave has a small shrine and a Pradakshinapatha (circumambulatory passage). An interesting panel in this cave is that of Ashtamatrikas (eight mother goddesses) flanked by Kartikeya and Ganesha.

A Siva Linga in the main cave temple.

Siva Linga

A different Siva Linga. Ensure that you take off your footwear before you enter this holy room. Else the guard on duty will ensure that you do so. Thanks to Vinayak for this image.

Siva Linga

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Cannon Hill – Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

by Vinaya HS on December 19, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,Travel

Your trip to Elephanta Island would be incomplete without a small climb up to Cannon Hill – aptly named because of the cannons strategically perched on top of the hill. The cannons are cleverly camouflaged by the surrounding greenery. In its hey days it must have probably been a very effective weapon in keeping out attackers.

One of the cannons in all its glory. The dais can actually turn a full circle thereby giving a 360° field of attack.

Cannon Hill - Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

The sturdy base of the cannon. From where I shot this photograph, there’s a staircase leading downstairs and into a maze of rooms probably meant for storing shells for the cannon and other artillery. Passageways cut into the hill were probably used as escape routes. You can actually feel yourself being transported into history. Quite mesmerizing!

Cannon Hill - Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Probably a lookout wall meant to keep a watch for attackers coming in from the sea and also as a first line of defense. Again, it’s perfectly camouflaged amidst the surrounding greenery.

Cannon Hill - Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

To be continued…

Part #1A Day Trip to Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

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Block Unwanted SMSes On Your Hutch Connection

by Vinaya HS on December 18, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

All you have to do is send the text DND as an SMS to 111.

You thought it was that easy huh? Hell no. Your trauma begins now. India might be the fastest growing telecom market in the world, but cellular operators here require 72 hours to implement a tiny change. Here’s my story in chronological order.

Early 2006

At a Hutch customer care centre, I was told that it is impossible to block promotional SMSes. “We just cannot do it Sir,” was the punch line thrown at me.

December 14, 2006 – 11:04

Message from Hutch: Hi! In case you do not wish to receive any promotional calls and SMS from Hutch, you may send DND as an SMS to 111 (toll-free). Thank you.

Me: What? But I thought this is impossible. Well…Hurrah! As instructed, I sent the message DND to 111.

December 14, 2006 – 10:55 (Huh?)

We respect your privacy. Please give us 72 hours to include your number on our Do Not Disturb list. Thank you.

Me: What the *uck! It doesn’t take 72 *ucking hours to add a *ucking number to a *ucking database. Come on. We are supposed to be the IT wonderland. I can almost visualize a flood of spam within the next 72 hours. What a *ucking scam. And why the *uck didn’t you mention this in your *ucking message. Why the *uck don’t you understand that I just sent you a *ucking DND message?

My prediction turns true.

December 15, 2006 – 09:54

Hutch Spam SMS #1: Get your name as LOGO on your phone screen! Sms MYLOGO [fontno] [name] to 8243. Eg MYLOGO 8 RAHUL. For Nokia phones only. Font range 1-16. Rs 3/logo.

December 15, 2006 – 13:47

Hutch Spam SMS #2: Get sizzling Mona Chopra’s best images. Click on the link http://202.87.41.147/hungamawap/hutch/1800/index.php3

December 16, 2006 – 15:05

Hutch Spam SMS #3: Kabul Express ki shooting Bangladesh mein ki gayi. Jawab dijiye aur jitiye Kabul Express ke FREE tickets. Sms YES or NO to 123. Rs 2/SMS.

December 16, 2006 – 15:47

Hutch Spam SMS #4: All new KINGFISHER Calendar models’ images and 2007 Calendar Application for your mobile! Click on the link http://202.87.41.147/hungamawap/hutch/2358/

As my friend once said, “Incredible India! But where’s the credibility?”

December 18, 2006 – 06:00

The 72-hour wait seems to be over. Haven’t received a spam SMS in the last 36 hours.

Update – December 18, 2006 – 10:19

Aaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!! Spoke too soon. I should have known better than to trust these lousy cellular operators.

Hutch Spam SMS #5: Now check the PNR status of your railway tickets on SMS. Simply send IRPNR (PNR No.) as SMS to 123. Eg IRPNR 8023453297. Rs 2/SMS only.

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A Day Trip to Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

by Vinaya HS on December 16, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,Travel

Elephanta Caves is a quick getaway from the daily din of Mumbai. Planned properly, you can complete this trip in half a day. Here’s how.

Trip itinerary to Elephanta Caves

  1. Take the local and reach Churchgate Station by 08:15.
  2. Take a taxi (it’s a 5-minute ride) to The Gateway of India.
  3. Book tickets on the 09:00 ferry to Elephanta Island. Tickets are priced at Rs. 120 a head (return journey included) and can be bought at the counters near the entrance to The Gateway of India. You need to pay an extra Rs. 10 to sit on the top deck.
  4. Reach Elephanta Island by 10:15.
  5. Explore the ruins at your leisure. Don’t forget to trek up to Cannon Hill. It’s worth it.
  6. Catch the 13:00 ferry back and reach The Gateway of India by 14:15.
  7. Have a scrumptious buffet lunch at The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower (approx. Rs. 1100 per head).
  8. 16:00 – Catch the local back to your area.

It’s quite OK even if you miss the 09:00 and 13:00 ferries. There are regular departures and return trips throughout the day, spaced approximately half an hour apart. But it’s in your best interests to stick to the above schedule and avoid the mid-day heat.

Food, water, and even beer is not a problem on the island. There are quite a number of decent hotels where you can have a quick, clean bite. Light cottons, a cap, and sunglasses are recommended.

Elephanta Caves Photos

The entrance to the island. For Rs. 8 you can take a two-way ride on the toy train (faintly visible in the photo) up to the foothills.

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Everything’s in complete ruin here. The Archaeological Society of India (ASI) is patching up the ruins thereby ruining it even more!

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

The entrance to the caves.

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

To be continued…

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Marg

by Vinaya HS on December 15, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Opposite to The Gateway of India
Mumbai – 400 001

Shivaji

And Shivaji’s majestic statue.

Shivaji

Shivaji

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History of the Gateway of India

by Vinaya HS on December 14, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Did you know why the Gateway of India was actually built? The answer to this question sits right on top of the monument itself. Etched into the monument, it reads:

Erected to commemorate the landing in India of their imperial majesties King George V and Queen Mary on the second of December MCMXI

Gateway of India

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What is the value of a blog?

by Vinaya HS on December 13, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Your blog can change your life, sometimes in ways you never imagined. I am testimony to this fact. Improving yourself as a person (in areas you never thought possible), making new friends, meeting your mate, making money, finding your next job, and spreading knowledge, these are some the areas where you experience a positive impact. The last couple of months have demonstrated to me, the true value of a blog (specifically, in one of the areas mentioned above). Unfortunately, I cannot reveal which one!

I am glad that I blog. What are you waiting for? Start to blog and experience the change.

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Pav Bhaji in Mumbai

by Vinaya HS on December 3, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Pav Bhaji Chat

Equipment: Nikon CoolPix 5300
Location: Kalaash Parbat, Infinity Mall

Image Copyright © 2006 – Forever, Vinayak R

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Mumbai Road Navigator and Map

by Vinaya HS on December 2, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,Travel

{ Thanks to Vinod for the tip. }

This – Mumbai Road Navigator – should prove quite handy over the next couple of months as there’s a huge percentage of Mumbai that I am yet to see and discover. A simple search for the route from Andheri to Juhu Beach results in these directions:

Plan with 0 change overs (Expected Travelling Time: 36.97)
Walk from Andheri to andheristation(w)
1: andheristation(w) to juhubeach by 203.

Note: You still need to know in which direction to start walking to reach Andheri(W) station. That’s something the navigator won’t tell you.

There’s a visual version as well. You can play with it here – Mumbai Road Navigator with Map.

All said and done, you can get by in Mumbai without these maps as Mumbaikars often go out of their way to help you. That’s one of the best things I like about Mumbai and it’s a memory that will stay with me forever.

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Pani Puri in Mumbai

by Vinaya HS on December 2, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Pani Puri Chat

Equipment: Nikon CoolPix 5300
Location: Kalaash Parbat, Infinity Mall

Image Copyright © 2006 – Forever, Vinayak R

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India Tourism – Gateway of India

by Vinaya HS on November 28, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,Travel

In between exams, I somehow managed to make it to the Gateway of India. Just one look and you can’t help but be mesmerized by its grandeur. I strongly suggest that you plan your visit at night – it just isn’t the same during daylight. History has it that this monument was erected in honor of the arrival of a certain king and queen (I forgot the names, sorry) from England. If you’re in Mumbai and there’s only time to see one thing, this is it.

This photo was shot with Vinayak’s Nikon.

The Gateway of India

And this was shot with my Nokia 6681.

The Gateway of India

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Daswala and Jaaji Flowers

by Vinaya HS on November 21, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Vishu seems to be on a major photo-hunting spree! He’s managed to dig up these beauties. Thanks again, Vishu.

Daswala or Hibiscus flower

Daswala

Jaaji (I don’t know the English name) flower

Jaaji

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Scrumptious

by Vinaya HS on November 20, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Quick. What’s warm, soft, and lip-smacking?

Tick tick one…tick tick two…tick tick three…you better stop your wild thoughts now. There’s one thing you certainly did not think about – a Jerry Berry Waffle! Caught you didn’t I?

This is how a Jerry Berry Waffle looks like. And believe me, it’s warm, soft, and lip-smacking, and just dissolves in your mouth.

Waffles

Shot @ The Infinity Mall – our third home in Mumbai. Looks like this week is going to be a “Food Festival” week on the GEO blog.

[Blogged during a boring KM class]

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Sevpuri in Mumbai

by Vinaya HS on November 19, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog

Shot on Juhu Road at a roadside vendor who prepares delicious chaat.

Sevpuri Chaat

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Movie Review: Casino Royale

by Vinaya HS on November 17, 2006

in The Bangalore Blog,The Mumbai Blog

Please bear with me if this post seems to have tossed the grammar book aside.

It’s 02:00 IST and I just came back from a special preview of the new James Bond movie Casino Royale. Don’t let the movie’s title song, which seems so subdued and out of place in a Bond movie, fool you. The rest of the movie is packed with explosive action. There are a couple of dull and drab moments in an other wise excellent movie. Daniel Craig’s acted well. But he’s no match for the outgoing Bond Pierce Brosnan.

I don’t think I can type anymore. My only advise to you is: “Go watch it.”

I am off to wonderland.

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Cheer up!

by Vinaya HS on November 15, 2006

in The Mumbai Blog,The SP Jain Blog

A couple of pretty faces to brighten your day. Shot on campus at 08:00 IST.

Flora

Flora

Did this cheer you up?

[Blogged from Dome 2 - the coolest class!]

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In most Hindu establishments (homes and other institutions) you normally find a Tulasi plant growing out of a Tulasi katte (or enclosure). The Tulasi is considered to be a holy plant and is worshipped often – sometimes every morning in orthodox Hindu families. There is also a Tulasi Habba (or festival) that accompanies Deepavali (festival of lights). The Tulasi has medicinal value and is often used as a herb in curing the common cold and cough.

These photographs were shot on campus.

Tulasi Plant

Tulasi Plant

[Blogged from Dome 2]

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