After a day spent in the hills checking out the route for our OxFam trail, while driving back to Mumbai I got a call from good friend Rakesh Bakshi asking if I was interested in cycling to the docks early the next morning. Not wanting to lose the opportunity of a good ride with great company, I agreed to join him.
We followed S.V. Road till Elphinstone Road and then joined Tulsi Pipe road to Mahalaxmi Station, from where we turned eastwards towards the docks
The satellite view from Google earth clearly shows the layout of the docs, with the fishing boats jetty towards the north, and to the left as you enter the dock; and the passenger terminal to the south, to the right as you enter the docks.
When we reached the docks, the place was crawling with people and choc-a-block with vehicles jostling with each other to get to the dock. Luckily being on cycles, we made our way through the crowd easily and reached the passenger terminal on the right
We parked our cycles next to the passenger ferry wharf and waited for dawn. As the day made its way through the darkness, the blue water glimmered and the lights on the ships anchored out in the sea started fading. I was desperately missing my camera and had to be satisfied with my trusty iPhone
We could see the colorful flags on the fishing boats emerge from the darkness on the other side. This scene must be not far from how the dock looked when it was first built in 1841 by Laksman Hari Chandarjee Ajinkya more commonly known as ‘Bhau’ and after whom the dock is named. Bombay did not have a regular pier or wharf till 1835 for either goods or passengers. The British government started leasing out land on the Bombay frontage to private individuals to build wet docks and basins. Bhau was the first local to take the opportunity and built these docks for the convenience of passengers. It remains one of the busiest ferry wharfs today, ferrying passengers to Rewas towards Alibaug and Mora towards Uran.
We climbed down into one of the fishing boats that was moored at the dock, and Shachi got busy clicking photos of the boats and the fishermen who were thrilled to pose for her!
As the day brightened, our cycles parked in a line looked like royal steeds waiting for their riders to embark upon a new adventure! Pankaj in the meantime managed to get us some hot cups of tea that we enjoyed while staring out into the water
Finally we caught a glimpse of the rising sun as it struggled to appear from behind the clouds, lighting up the sky and the water with its striking colors
This cat seemed to have managed to steal its morning meal from some fisherman’s catch of the day, and was looking for a nice hiding place to enjoy it. It slipped through the gaps in the floor and disappeared underneath.
The sun had now appeared from behind the clouds, and we declared that to be the sign for us to make our way back.
On the way back, we peeped into the fishing lane and saw rows of vendors on both sides, busy with setting up their shops with various types of wares related to fishing, and tons of fish being separated and sold in auctions. The fishing wharf was built and commissioned in 1980 and now handles more than 400 different types of sea food from surmai (king fish), mori (shark), rawas (salmon), mandeli, prawns, mackerel, kane (lady fish), pomfret, crabs and of course the legendary bombil (Bombay Duck). Over 2000 metric tons of sea food is handled every day!
On our way back, we followed the eastern freeway that links Chembur to CST. It was deserted at this time of the day, and we enjoyed the ride at a fast clip. Shachi zoomed ahead, tempted by the excellent road!
We stopped at Matunga to enjoy hot idlis and filter coffee. Rakesh and Shachi stuck to coconut water. Then we rode non-stop back to Andheri, while Rakesh and Pankaj took a detour via Mahim to Bandra