Taj Mahal Palace Hotel opposite Gateway of India, Mumbai, India

A Gateway to India: From Goa to Mumbai

 

Elsa Dixon Viking Mars Choir

Debby and I had fun on the Viking Mars, joining the Viking choir, an event sponsored by the jewelry outlet on the ship. We practiced diligently to perform with the ‘stars’ in The Living Room. At the back of the wide staircase leading down to the area, there is a big screen where the cruise line daily projected a selection of works by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. This interactive event is called “Munch Moments.” The jewelry store made us each sign for the piece of jewelry we would wear for the choral performance, the prices ranging from $600 to $4,000! We jokingly agreed to meet at a lifeboat for a great escape!

 

 

 

 

 

Debby Harrison and Elsa Dixon Viking Mars

 

Debby and I celebrating our impending arrival in India! Debby's wearing an incredibly beautiful sari.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map of India

We were close to India. The Goa (Mormugao) port on the west coast was only 666 nautical miles, a day’s sailing away. First conquered by Afonso de Albuquerque, Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961 and the capital of the Portuguese Empire east of the Cape of Good Hope. The government of India launched a military action and liberated Goa from Portuguese rule. Goa was the only region in India that the British did not rule. 

Welcome band at Goa Dock, India

Waiting for our cruise ship to dock, the Goans gave us an uproarious welcome with trumpets blasting at full volume and drums beating the rhythms! I love these hearty welcomes by local people in different ports. We walked to where our bus awaited and soon headed into busy streets. 

 

 

 

Open-air market Goa, India

 

Many open markets on the sidewalks sold fresh fruit and vegetables under awnings below shady trees. Scooters weaved their way through the traffic. We did not have time to do any personal shopping, but Goa’s flea market and local shops offer many opportunities for tourists to buy souvenirs. 

 

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa, India

Today, colonial structures still abound, and many Portuguese Goans, especially Catholics, continue speaking the language. The old city looked somewhat neglected. We visited the Basilica of Bom Jesus, an impressive Baroque architectural building and a World Heritage site. ‘Bom Jesus’ means ‘Good Jesus.’ It was very crowded and hot, but that did not stop young Indian people from heartily greeting us and asking us to pose for photos with them. 

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, India

We stayed in Goa only one day before sailing on to Mumbai, India’s largest city and financial center. After disembarking from the ship, we set off on the tour included in the Viking package, The Highlights of Bombay of Old (Mumbai). 

We passed beautifully preserved architectural treasures. I could see why people regard Mumbai as one of India’s grandest coastal capitals. Our bus dropped us off at the Mumbai harbor waterfront near the impressive Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. What a stunning building!

Market Gateway of India, Mumbai, India

I was excited to see the Gateway of India, built on the Mumbai harbor waterfront for the 1911 visit of King George V and Queen Mary. We weaved our way through the crowd at a very lively market area. Hawkers balanced very large trays on their heads carrying an array of different products: jugs and glasses of drinks, stacks of flatbreads, samosas, fruit, sacks of potatoes, candles, and so on.  

 

Gateway of India, Mumbai, India

The Gateway, an impressive, solid arch made from basalt, overlooks the Arabian Sea. In later years, Viceroys and new Governors of Bombay used it for symbolic ceremonial entrances to India, allowing entry and access to the country.

 

 

 

 

Hanging Gardens, Mumbai, India

After dodging back through the crowd, we boarded the coach and drove along Marine Drive, admiring the skyline of high-rise buildings across the waters. We passed beaches of yellow sand, finally reaching Malabar Hill. This upscale residential area for the rich and famous is known for the Hanging Gardens and Kamala Nehru Park. We stopped to admire the extensive views of the Bay and the city and the hedges sculpted into animal shapes.   

Mahalakshmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai, India

Our next stop gave us an overview of the Mahalakshmi Dhobi Ghat, an open-air laundry place. The launderers do not use pegs but tie knots to hang the washing in long rows. Each open-air concrete wash pen has its flogging stone. This laundry place with skyscrapers in the background was certainly an unusual sight.

 

Mani Bhavan Museum Ghandi Diorama

Our last stop was at the Mani Bhavan Museumthe Mumbai residence where Mahatma Gandhi frequently stayed. It was the epicenter of India’s struggle for freedom. The most fascinating room housed a display of dioramas depicting the main events in Gandhi’s life. I found the re-enactments of scenes during his time in South Africa fascinating.

 

Bamboo scaffolding, Mumbai, India

On the way back to the ship, I saw everyday suburban life through the bus window: people resting under a banyan tree and informal markets on the sidewalks. However, what stood out was the construction sites, which used scaffolding constructed from bamboo and nets from knotted ropes covering buildings. I wondered how workers climbed up and balanced on those poles while working!

Traffic congestion, Mumbai. India

The bus suddenly stopped when we landed in heavily congested traffic. Motor coaches, cars, taxis, tuk tuks, bicycles, motorbikes, scooters, trucks, and yes, my eyes did not deceive me, a man walking a cow. Of course, cows are sacred, according to the Hindu belief in India. Later, during our extended tour through rural areas, we saw many bovines wander the streets without ropes around their necks.

For now, it was farewell to Mumbai and the Viking Cruise ship. We would be leaving on our post-cruise Golden Triangle adventure the following day.

 

 

 

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