Bombay is a microcosm of India. It is a world in itself, it is a spirit; one that imbibes in you, traits like courage, fearlessness, empathy and ultimately teaches you about this bittersweet journey called life. I have always loved Bombay; for its rain and for its sea, for its cruelty and for its gentleness, for the way it tests us with the heat and humidity and rewards us almost instantly with the generous showers. But there is a lot more to Bombay than just the rain. One thing many fail to acknowledge is the historical and natural beauty that Bombay possesses. Certain beautiful parts of Bombay often go unnoticed, thanks to the many praises that have been sung in favour of the sea and the rain.The ‘unexplored side’ of Bombay as I like to call it is as much a part of Bombay’s beauty as Marine Drive and Gateway of India and Bandstand. As much as I love walking on Carter’s at night, there is a certain charm about the churches in Bandra and Colaba that are often empty. As much as I like the view that Juhu beach offers, it doesn’t match up to the beauty of many of the SoBo buildings; and as much as I admire the skyscrapers in Lower Parel and Worli, there is nothing like a quiet afternoon spent in finding those few green, untouched spots in Bombay. These, I feel, are the things that add to Bombay ki beauty.
Mahakali Caves in Andheri East is one place that is accessible from almost every part of the city, yet it was quite deserted on a Sunday afternoon; mostly because a lot of people don’t know about it but also because it hasn’t been maintained. Keeping all that aside, I can safely say that I haven’t seen a greener place than this in Bombay.
These caves, often confused with Kanheri Caves in Borivali, are a group of 19 rock-cut monuments built between 1st century BCE and 6th century CE. Unlike other monuments of national importance, Mahakali Caves doesn’t have any signboards, informative descriptions or ticket counters. One can simply walk in amidst the group of children playing football outside the gate and explore the ruins of these caves and indulge in the quiet this place offers. Due to the lack of maintenance, it is difficult to figure out what each cave represents; there seemed to be traces of stairs in one cave but they’re completely inaccessible now.
Since there was very little to do except walk in the lush green space that the Caves provided, that’s all I did. And it was exceptionally satisfying. Being surrounded by such tranquility in the middle of the maddening circus that Bombay is,is priceless. Mahakali caves may not have impacted me in the way Elephanta did, in terms of grandeur, but it soothed me, it pleased me, it captured my attention with its immense beauty, greenery and above all, its mystery.
Marine Drive captured my heart the first time I sat there at night, along with hundreds of other night owls; I enjoyed clicking pictures and posing at the Gateway of India and the Hanging Gardens. But the sense of satisfaction I felt after visiting Mahakali Caves was unparalleled, maybe because it felt like a hidden gem, a secret only a lucky few knew and something that hadn’t been tarnished by the carelessness of tourists .It is beautiful, it is enchanting, it is spectacular but in an unconventional way. I took time out to go Khanabadoshing to Mahakali Caves and I wasn’t disappointed. So next time you feel like going out on a weekend, ditch Carter’s or Juhu Beach and go to Mahakali. Explore the unexplored side of Bombay and find yourself falling in love with this city all over again.