23 April 2011

Our school year has just ended, and we are grateful to some very thoughtful friends for providing this school-break trip for us, the best we have experienced to date!

Seaside Mumbai is the capital of our Maharashtra state, and is also the commercial capital of India.  Yet many of us had never seen Mumbai or its famous sites, so familiar to us, nor the seaside.

Traveling to Mumbai

Mumbai is about 150 km north-west of Pune, but the intervening mountain range and heavy metropolitan traffic on each end make it a four-hour journey, even on weekends.  So we departed our Janata Vasahat neighborhood in Pune at 6:00 am, -45 girls and four staff, on a large 50-seat bus.  Despite the early hour, we were very excited and immediately commenced singing and dancing as we headed down the Pune-Mumbai expressway.
At 8:00 we reached Khopoli, the half-way point, in the scenic mountain range.  Here we stopped for breakfast and tea, while staff and driver strategized our route and day in Mumbai.  After half an hour, we continued our journey.  Reaching Mumbai, we traveled the whole length of the city, reaching our first destination in the Apollo Bunder region in South Mumbai at about 10:00 am.  As we exited the bus, we immediately recognized the glorious Gateway of India before us...

The Sites We Visited

Below are the sites that we visited, in chronological order.  Click on the site links for more information on each site.  Pan and zoom the map for more detailed view of each site.

Gateway of India (10:00 am) - Our first destination was at one of the most famous national monuments of India, the "Gateway of India" arch.  Built in 1911, the basalt arch is 26 meters (85 ft.) in height.  It stands on the eastern waterfront and in earlier times was the first monument visible to visitors by sea.
Taj Mahal Hotel (11:00 am) - Next to the Gateway of India.  Already of architectural and historical fame, after the terrorist attacks of 2008 the Taj Mahal Hotel became a symbol to the world of Mumbai's resilience.
"We were very amazed and excited to see these famous places that we have always heard about and seen in our school books!"
Mahalaxmi Temple (12:00 pm) - One of the most famous Hindu temples in Mumbai, built in 1785, on the western seashore of central Mumbai.  The temple enshrines the three deities Mahalxmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati.
Haji Ali Dargah (1:00 pm) - Nearby Mahalaxmi Temple, Haji Ali Dargah is a famous and ancient mosque and dargah (tomb) of Haji Ali, built in 1431.  It sits on a tiny island, 500m from shore, accessible by a narrow causeway nearly 1km long.  It is a fine example of Indian Islamic architecture, and remains an important pilgrimage site for India's Muslims, while people of all faiths visit the dargah to receive blessings from the legendary saint.
Kamala Nehru Garden (2:30 pm) - Also known as "Hanging Gardens", beautiful landscaped grounds perched on the top of Malabar Hill, with fantastic views of Mumbai and the sea, overlooking famous Chow Patty Beach.  Also the home of the shoe, in which lived the little old lady.  Our girls enjoyed lunch in the park, along with the view and some free time in the beautiful grounds.
Sri Siddhivinayak Temple (5:00 pm) - Another important Hindu temple and pilgrimage site, dedicated to Lord Ganesh.
Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge (6:00 pm) - A modern feat of engineering, completed in 2010, an 8-lane bridge spanning 4km of sea, connecting central Mumbai to the western suburbs, reducing travel time from one hour to 10 minutes.


Below is a photo chronology of our fantastic day!

Return to Pune

As mentioned above, we happened to cross the Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge exactly at high tide.  It was a marvelous experience for the girls, who felt as if they were riding on top of those waves.  They wondered at how it was possible to build a bridge in the sea? -and marveled at the majestic beauty of the sea spread on both sides.  It was one of the unexpected pleasures of our fantastic day.
We reached the Mumbai-Pune Expressway at about 7:00 pm.  The girls enjoyed wadapav (Indial savoury pastry) and flavoured milk.  Though we had spent the whole day walking, playing, and visiting different places in Mumbai, some of the girls were still very energetic and were singing songs loudly and dancing to the tunes of those songs.  Others were very tired and managed to sleep through the din.  We reached Pune at 10 pm.  This was the first trip our girls had taken outside of the Pune area, so we're sure it was a day they will always remember!


Letting the girls experience Mumbai has been a dream of ours for the past year or so, but the expense and effort involved has prevented us from realizing it.  But a number of very thoughtful individuals combined their efforts to fund the cost of the trip and provide this memorable day for the girls.  We can't tell you how grateful we are!
Kirsten Friedman
Lynette Lamb
Pam Milavec
Melanie Ueland
Kerry Ludlow
Margaret Mahfouz
Ann Sutton
Nicholas Tummillo
Heather Sharp
Michelle bell
Thanks also to Minal's incredible staff (Pramila, Mukta, Sangita, Ms. Gadre) for having energy and endurance to match the girls! -and for all of the coordination efforts.
Many thanks to all of you, on behalf of the girls and this memory that they will keep with them the rest of their lives!
OSI-India Site Page

With more photos, maps, and information about OSI-Pune