Matheran – My short visit in Mumbai

As some of you may know, after visiting Nepal in January I headed back to India for a yoga retreat. However as always my trip in India started in Mumbai with a flying visit to see Pooja.

One of the things she recommended was to take a short weekend visit up to Matheran an old English Hill Station, now declared an eco-friendly motor free zone. This is such a wonderfully peaceful place, which was unfortunately on strike when I arrived. So after having difficulty finding accommodation I set out to walk around the many mini walking trails.

Mid-walk I stupidly slipped and fell on my ankle, with no one around but a man and his pony to rescue me and take me back to my hotel. Because of this I took very few pictures as I became bound to my hotel. But here are some I took before the incident.

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Flying Visit to Mumbai

I was only back in Mumbai for 48h, I had a little walk around and saw a few of the sights I’d not seen before…

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A selection of food I’ve been eating…

And obviously a visit to Mumbai would not be complete without this lovely lady…

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The Wedding

The wedding was really beautiful and nothing like the ceremonies we have in the UK. In the morning a small prayer was held for Pooja that was attended by her close friends and family. Then that afternoon the wedding was held before the reception.

The reception was quite different to what we have in the UK. The bride, groom and family stood on a stage greeting a line of guest who came with congratulations and gifts before having a picture taken by one of the many photographers at the event. This whole process took about 4h, and we went and grabbed some food whilst we waited.

At the end of the night there was another small emotional event for the bride and grooms send off, where Pooja said goodbye to her friends and family before leaving with Abhishek.

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Sangeet

The sangeet celebrations were the first of the events to be shared by both the bride and grooms families. It was a night filled with music and dance, some of it choregraphed most of it spontaneous.

     
 
Some more dance photos/videos to follow..

Cocktail Party

Pooja’s cocktail party was held in a sky high bar on the 37th floor called EXO. It had beautiful views of Mumbai and we spent the evening eating, drinking and dancing.

   

(This was the only wedding event where alcohol was served)

Mehendi Party

One of the many celebrations leading up to Pooja’s wedding is the Mehendi party, mostly celebrated by the brides friends and family. It was an amazing night centred  around the application of henna, but there was also some great food, music and dance performances.


Mumbai to Gujarat

I landed in Mumbai on the 4th January 2015 at about 00:05, but I had to wait a whole hour before I got out of the airport to see Pooja!

I got to meet Abhishek and his friend before being greeted by Pooja’s whole family on my arrival at her home. Mumbai was so warm compared to the UK and I was so tired I slept like a log before being woken up to the sounds of the crazy car honking in the city.

My 12 hours in Mumbai

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In the short time I was in the city Pooja took me to her local salon where I got a manicure and pedicure. I then got whisked around on a whistle stop tour of the Gateway to India, Leopold Cafe and Caster Road before we headed to a roof top bar for some pre-departure drinks.

On our drive around I witnessed some absolutely mental driving, I’ve seen whole families on the back of a motorbike, unbelievable overtaking, decorated lorries, unstoppable rickshaws and complete overuse of car horns. We also drove through a Muslim street party festival by chance.

The Overnight Train to Bhuj

IMG_0002Never having been on an overnight train I didn’t really know what to expect. We had 2 bunks in a compartment with curtains, bedding and blankets. Being midnight we made the beds, locked up our bags and I tried to get straight to sleep. It was the weirdest sensation ever, I was being rocked in the opposite way I expected and then by the time I went to sleep I woke up screaming thinking I had a rat crawling across my chest! (It was just a dream). We woke up in the morning at our destination Bhuj.

Ran Uttsav

Joining the transfer at the station we headed off on the 2 hour drive to the campsite at the edge of the White desert near the Pakistan boarder. The campsite and people were so nice, and I found the food amazing.

We did IMG_0051the White desert twice, once at sunset and then again in the full moon. The desert is white as its a dried up monsoon lake that’s left behind the saltwater residue. When there we rode camels, posed for pictures and enjoyed the cultural music.

On the second/third day we went out on a tour to Gahndi Nu Gamm village of craft, where the locals were so colourful and the women so beautifully decorated. We also visited Kalla Dungbar the highest point in Kutch, Swaminarayan Temple and a second crafts village. The local crafts of the state of Gujarat are mirror work and embroidery.

Most of the places we saw had been hit by the 2010 earthquake, the villagers lived in new mud huts and some of the temples had been rebuilt from scratch, but the history of area was quite prominent.