Thursday 4 October 2007


Early start today, we coudn't afford to miss the famed and reknowed Rock Garden.

After having breakfast followed by checking out, we flagged a rickshaw down and asked to be taken to the Rock Gardens. The driver just laughed back at us and left.

This puzzled Wala to no end, to the extent that she was willing to give up on the gardens. However, knowing how much visiting gardens with statues made out of rubbish meant to her and how an enriching experience it would be, IÂ flagged another rickshaw down. This time, the proud driver of a not so pristine Ape Piaggio agreed to take us to the gardens.

Once there, we were to face the challenge of finding the ticket booth, cleverly disguised in a tiny crack of the garden walls. Inside, we found a huge number of creative statues scattered along an intricate labirinth of narrow passages and tiny doorways. Worth a visit.

We then returned back to hotel to pick up our bags and catch a taxi to the airport. Once there, we unsuccessfully attempted to book our hotes in Mumbai from the tourist office (they could only book hotels in Chandigarh) and book a flight from Mumbai to Kolhapur at the AirDeccan ticket office (they would not accept international credit cards and there was no ATM at the airport).
We'd have to sort all of that out once in Mumbai....

...and sort it out we did!

The official goverment tourist office was in the baggage collection and arrivals halls, lurking behind two other (commision charging and partial) tourist offices. We snaringly turned down the offers coming from the touts at the private tourist offices and seeked advice and help from the official office.

The (very tall) smily man was extremely helpful and took the pain out of arranging accomodation for our stay in Mumbai _and_ Kolhapur.

Accomodation in Mumbai was pretty scarce, so he had to try a number of hotels (which were fully booked) before landing us a room in the Strand Hotel.

The Strand Hotel is horrible and ridiculously overpriced for what you get. The hotel lures you in with a nice cool reception, but the luxury ends there. Stepping out of the reception lands you in a dated, old, shabby hotel, though clean.

Wala was very tired and prey to a pounding headache, so we opted for room service, wolfed it down, took our anti-malaria tablets, and tried to sleep. It was very hot, and although the room was equipped with an air-conditioner, it was so loud that it was completely useless (not sure if it was the air-condition device or the electricity converter attached to it, but the noise level was deafening anyway).

We resolved to sweat the night out and get up bright and early in the morning to hunt for a better hotel.