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Sea-Scented Mumbai

22:53 pm | Saturday, 08 August 2015

The Arabian Sea is the soul of Mumbai - unnoticed in the daily struggles of life but ever present, a guardian, a mentor and an eternal friend. Mumbaikars seek its embrace in celebration, when seeking moments of reflection and solitude, to escape the noise of the daily drill and even to spend a few stolen moments of passion with their paramours. It is symbolic of the best aspects of the metropolis and Mumbai and the Arabian Sea are like timeless lovers - one cannot exist without the other.

And the sea can be experienced in myriad ways to truly understand its many avatars and moods. 

Lighthouses
Sentinels of the Mumbai harbour, these beautiful, historic structures appear mysterious from the shore. There are three prominent lighthouses:
1.    The Sunk Rock Lighthouse stands 5kms from the Gateway of India. This unmanned tower flashes red and white beacon every six seconds. Entry is prohibited but it can be viewed from a ferry.
2.    The Prongs Lighthouse stands the tallest at 144 feet and is one of the few manned lighthouses left in the world. Its beacon flashes white every ten seconds. At low tide, one can walk to the lighthouse, but since the approach is through Naval land necessary permissions from the Port Trust and the Navy have to be obtained to visit it. 
3.    The Dolphin Rock Lighthouse is also unmanned and at 58 feet, is the shortest of the three. It can be best viewed from a ferry.

The Kala Ghoda Association partnered with the Mumbai Port Trust to organise a tour of these magnificent lighthouses during the 2014 Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. It’s worth enquiring if they are planning it again.

Mangroves
The wetlands and mangroves around Mumbai are like the lungs of the marine ecosystem of the city, sustaining a variety of flora and fauna.The largest expanse of mangroves occurs on the western bank at the Thane Creek. A significant section lies by the Godrej & Boyce township at Pirojshanagar in Vikhroli. The Soonabhai Pirojsha Marine Ecology Centre is dedicated to sustaining and nurturing this precious ecosystem and has spared no effort in this pursuit. They organise guided nature trails in the mangroves where a variety of avian, marine and wildlife can be spotted. They also organise film shows and presentations to raise awareness about the mangroves.

Sassoon Docks
Noisy and smelly yes, but also historic, colourful and atmospheric, Sassoon Docks are the oldest docks in the city, built in 1875 by Albert Abdullah David Sassoon. An early morning visit (wearing shoes that will not slip on slippery fishy water) at 5 am when the boats come in with their catch, is a memorable experience. The piles of fish, the colourful and loud Koli women, the shouting of sellers and buyers is quintessentially Mumbai. If you can manage, a trip on a fishing trawler is recommended although not for the faint hearted (the smell can be a challenge).
These visits will give you a slightly different perspective of the city which every lover of the city must experience for themselves.