Interesting Facts

Dragonfly Apartments, Andheri, Mumbai Mumbai Mahakali caves 3

Mahakali caves : historical site in the heart of Mumbai

There is a mysterious connection of the maximum city to Buddhism. The city has seen monks and monasteries since times immemorial. One of the many connections points that links today with the historical trail of Buddhism in this city is the Mahakali caves which is located in the Andheri East. It can be accessed from Andheri railway station by bus number 333. Alternatively one can reach from Vikhroli by bus number 410. Third option is to get down for Mahakali caves at JVLR. The most amazing thing about these caves is that you don't need to go into some remote located to get a glimpse of it. It's right in the heart of Mumbai.

Popularly known as Mahakali caves,it is also called Kondivite caves. These caves are a group of 19 rock cut structures which were built between 1st century BCE and 5 ACE. The caves were mostly used as monasteries by monks. While there was a chaitya chamber for meditation. As there was resurgence of Hinduism and decline of Buddhism, these structures were eventually abandoned. The royal patronage was taken away and these caves lost their value. These were marked as important monument by Archaeological Survey of India and now a perimeter stands to guard against the encroachments.

The sad part is the neglect from the government to promote the place. This area is surrounded by scrap dealers and slums which makes it not a pleasant place for tourists. Also there seems to be no push for these unlike the Elephanta caves which in spite of being located several kilometers in the sea, get more footfall and better funding too. Apart from these caves, there were other excavations all around India and lot of statues were discovered at different places. Some of the statues are located in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya - Mumbai which is located very close to the CST railway station as well as from Churchgate station. If you are looking for Buddha statues in different forms, you can also visit the Dragonfly hotel in Andheri East that has excellent collection of Buddha themed statues as well as books and paintings,carefully curated from artists. This can be great detour for visitors to the Mahakali caves as it's located within 1.5km from the caves precincts. 

Dragonfly Apartments, Andheri, Mumbai Mumbai Train leaving Churchgate

Andheri-Trombay line putting life in virgin lands
 
Andheri-Trombay local train via Chakala, Sahar, Santacruz, Kurla
 
Anyone living or working in the deeper areas of Andheri East knows how tough life is without a local train line running through. Yes, after the introduction of the Versova-Ghatkopar metro rail, things have eased out but still travelling remains a challenge. It is very interesting to note that long long back, even before the international airport was built in Sahar, there existed a railway line all the way from Trombay to Andheri via Chakala.
 
This may seem impossible today but it was reality in the early 1930s. Apparantly the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, had undertaken this painstaking job of laying down the line between Trombay that was located on the South-Eastern outskirt(that time it was a different town altogether) and Salsette, which was the island where today’s Andheri is located. The line was named as Salsette-Trombay Railway which eventually was known as the Central Salsette Tramway. This was seen as a positive move by the Bombay Improvement Trust which saw immense opportunity to colonize(that’s what Britishers liked the most in that period) the virgin lands. This was just boost to the establishment of areas like Kurla and Andheri which was previously just colonies of small ethenic groups.
 
"The opening up of a Railway line running West to South-east and linking up the Andheri and Kurla stations to render available for building purposes vast tracts of land sufficiently close to the city." "Report of the Bombay Development Committee". Government of Bombay, 1914
 
This line was used even for recreational purposes and people travelled to Trombay for picnics and purchasing locally made liquor from Palm extract, which was and still is known as toddy. The Salsette-Trombay Railway also had station at Kalina which was then called Kolovery. It was located at what we see today as the Kurla-Kalina flyover. This flyover forms one of the important junctions in Mumbai as it is the crossing of CST road over LBS marg. Another stop was near Kurla bus depot.
 
Sadly as progress has to pay a price, the city needed international airport and it was in 1934 that the railway line was decided to be erased from history of Bombay. The service was discontinued and it was dismantled. Anther grim aspect is that even the locomotives used for the line( eight steam engines) were all returned to England. The prime reason for this was the Sahar International airport but today there would be millions who would benefit from it if it existed or at least was re-routed. RIP Central Salsette Tramway or what we would call as Andheri-Trombay local line if it was today.