Swamiji visited Mumbai thrice

First visit: July 1892
It was during the last week of July 1892 that Swami Vivekananda arrived in Mumbai as the guest of one Sri Ramdas Chhabildas, a barrister of Mumbai. (Click here to see details of his first visit and host in Mumbai)

At the Parliament of Religions

Second visit: May 1893
Again after his eventful trip to Kanyakumari, he was in Mumbai for a short while before he embarked on his trip to attend the historic Parliament of Religions at Chicago on 31st May, 1893.

Third visit: December 1900
After his second trip to the West in 1899-1900 Swamiji arrived in Mumbai on the 6th-7th of December, 1900. After spending a very short time on the train platform of the Victoria Terminus Railway Station incognito in his Western dress, he boarded the train to Calcutta literally making the city thrice-blessed!

Swamiji’s Visit to Kanheri Caves

Swamiji’s Visit to Kanheri Caves
During his first visit, Swamiji visited the Kanheri caves near Borivili. Since the Kanheri caves are about 22 km from Mumbai it can be presumed that along with Ramdas Chabildas and Chabildas Lalubhai, Swamiji may have taken the train from Grant Road (which is near their bungalow) to Andheri and then proceeded to Borivili by horse carriage, or they might have used an eighthorse shigram carriage from the Napean Sea Road bungalow.

Swamiji was no casual visitor (to the caves). He would have minutely observed and studied each and every cave. He had a deep interest in rock cut architecture. These caves, numbering more than 100, are among the largest Buddhist caves in western India. Swamiji must have been fascinated to see Caves 1, 2 and 3 for their massive pillars, sculpture and stupa.

Swamiji’s Visit to Kanheri Caves

Perhaps the chaitya hall in Cave 3 and the assembly hall in Cave 10 gave him the idea that the natmandir (prayer hall) of the future Ramakrishna temple should have such a design concept.

Swami Vijnananandaji incorporated this and other ideas of Swamiji in his drawings and plan of the Ramakrishna Temple at Belur Math, which was completed in 1938. It is therefore reasonable to presume that Swamiji might have returned to the caves more than once to study them in depth, because all their details do not lend themselves to serious study in a single visit. They made such a deep impression on him that many years after he had visited the caves, Swamiji spoke of them to his disciples who had gathered at Thousand Island Park, USA. The wealth of details Swamiji studied at the Kanheri caves is evident from Sister Christine’s reminiscences of him:

Swamiji’s Visit to Kanheri Caves

While he was at Thousand Islands he made plans for future, not only for his disciples in India and the work there, but also for those of his followers in America, who were hoping sometime to go to India. At that time we thought these plans were only daydreams. One day he said, ‘We shall have a beautiful place in India, on an island with the ocean on three sides. There will be small caves which will accommodate two each, and between each cave there will be a pool of water for bathing, and pipes carrying drinking water will run up to each one. There will be a great hall with carved pillars for the Assembly Hall, and more elaborate Chaitya Hall for worship. Oh! It will be luxury.’ It seemed that he was building castles in the air. None of us dreamed that this was something which could ever be realized

Extract from article on Swami Vivekananda’s First Hosts in Bombay
by Swami Shuddharupananda

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