City Tour of Mumbai with Kanheri Caves

Mumbai City Tour

Mumbai is the commercial capital of India, and a fast paced, cosmopolitan city. Visit the Gateway of India, situated at Apollo Bunder. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911, replete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone.

Next, visit the Prince of Wales Museum. This Gothic and Moorish style building is crowned by a sparkling white dome, and houses a priceless collection of art, sculpture, china and other antiques. Drive past the old colonial buildings like Victoria Terminus (undoubtedly the British Raj's piece de resistance, featuring carved stone friezes, stained glass windows and flying buttresses), Mumbai University and Rajabai Clock Tower. Make a photo stop at Dhobi Ghat, the open-air laundry of the city. Proceed down Marine Drive, South Mumbai’s windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings.

Drive past Chowpaty Beach, the Parsi Towers of Silence and Malabar Hill. Visit Mani Bhavan, the old Mumbai residence of Mahatma Gandhi. It's a pretty, two-storied structure that now houses a reference library with over 2000 books, a photo exhibition of the Mahatma's life, and well-preserved memorabilia, including an old charkha or spinning wheel that Gandhiji used to use.

Kanheri Caves

" This tour takes you to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park to see the Buddhist caves at Kanheri."

Kanheri is over 2000 years old, and provides a rare opportunity to understand monastic life in ancient India. Located on a prosperous trade route, Kanheri saw continuous occupation from the 1st century BC, until the decline of Buddhism in India in the 9th century AD. The carvings and architecture of Kanheri reflect the older, more austere Hinayana Buddhism as well as the later, more popular Mahayana.

Since it was a large settlement of monks, Kanheri is almost a mini-university, carved into the cliff face. The monks devised ingenuous ways of sourcing and harnessing rainwater, to provide for their daily life of study and prayer. Water cisterns, clever stairways chiselled into the hill, group prayer halls, dining halls, dormitories, and the “superior” living quarters of senior monks – all of these make Kanheri a fascinating place to visit.

The caves are largely undisturbed, tucked away in the green environs of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The park is spread over 9000 hectares, and is home to several species of bird and animal life, including deer, four horned antelope, leopards, macacques, civets, mongoose and langurs. In the monsoons, and immediately after, the park is a lush green haven, providing Mumbai residents with a much needed break from city life.