As a travel blogger, I am always fascinated with different places that speak so much about the local culture, food and people. Every village, town, and the city that I have visited has its own trademark style and that is what I carry back home and try to write it down before it begins to fade out of my memory. I am a part of a closed group of bloggers, writers, poets and creative minds and during our last conversation, we came up with a thought of rewriting one of our old posts that we think we can improve. For me, that is practically impossible, because most of my posts never go public if I am not satisfied. So, I decided that I would come up with a new post (well, I write a lot less than most people in my blog group) where I can ponder on a new topic.
So, here I am writing about things to do and places to visit when you are in Mumbai on a short business trip or if you are just here for few days or just a day at a stretch. Honestly, this sounds like an easy essay topic, but trust me it is not. I mean, look at the map of Mumbai, the city is expanding faster than you can imagine. All the places that once used to be the far north of the city have now become the central locations. On Zomato, there are more than 10,313 restaurants registered across the city, on TripAdvisor there are 207 attractions to visit, and 158 places to shop around, so where do you start?
Explore the Art & Architecture at Kala Ghoda Area
If you’re passionate about history and if you love to explore the old style architecture and heritage buildings, no place in Mumbai can beat the Kala Ghoda area. Kala Ghoda is located in South Mumbai and is a perfect spot for art lovers. Explore the Jehangir Art Gallery and also, the street artists that sit in the lane right outside the gallery. You can also visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum right next to the art gallery. Not too far from Kala Ghoda is Flora Fountain so you can explore that as well. When you are here, try Hotel Vaibhav (right opposite Mumbai University building), a small vegetarian food joint that offers delicious Indian snack and lunch/dinner meals. A full meal here for two persons would cost around Rs. 500, that’s 7.5 US dollars.
Re-live the History at Gateway of India
If the Statue of Liberty stands for the New York City, Gateway of India stands for the city of Mumbai. This iconic monument is just a 10-minute walk away from the Kala Ghoda precinct. The monument was erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder during their visit to India in 1911. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, this gate also witnessed the departure of British troops after India’s Independence. Avoid this place on weekends, if you hate crowd. If you’re here and if you feel hungry, you can try PizzaExpress that offers delicious Italian-styled pizzas and pasta, or you can head to the alley behind Taj Hotel and find Bade Miyan for a complete Indian-style non-vegetarian gastronomic experience. A food experience at Bade Miyan will cost you around Rs. 650, that’s around 10 US dollars. If budget is not an issue, you may also want to explore The Taj Mahal Palace right opposite the Gateway of India. They have a wide range of restaurants like Shamiana, Sea Lounge, Wasabi, Masala Kraft, Souk, Golden Dragon, La Patisserie and Aquarius to keep your hunger pangs at bay.
Hangout at Colaba Causeway
Close to Gateway of India is Colaba Causeway and this is an ideal place to hangout, have a beer, chit-chat with friends, do some street shopping and just wander around. Colaba Causeway starts at the Regal Cinema. Oh, let me tell you, this is not just any damn movie theater. It is an art deco movie theater built in 1933 and also the first air-conditioned theater in India. It still has the same interiors (but has a Dolby surround sound system), so if you ever wished to go back in time, this is one way to do it. Cafe Leopold, Café Mondegar, and Café Royale are few food joints at Colaba Causeway where you can have a conversation with friends over some delicious food and a pint of beer. These joints are bit expensive for the experience they offer, so your total food expenditure depends on how much you order.
Shopping at Crawford Market
If you love to shop while you’re in Mumbai, how about a visit to Crawford Market? This building is India’s first building to be lit up by electricity and was built in 1869. The market house accommodates wholesale fruit vendors, vegetable stalls, poultry market. Apart from that, you can shop all types of Indian spices, pickles, chocolates, toothpaste, bathing accessories, shaving kits, perfumes, deodorants, cane products, party accessories and decorations, dry fruits, syrups, kitchen utensils and baking equipment, toys, ladies handbags, wallets, school bags and tourists bags, unstitched clothing material, shoes, stationery and office supplies, home lighting and chandeliers, fans, plumbing tools, water pumps and the list goes on. A comprehensive tour in Crawford Market can take you at least 5 hours. If you’re tired of shopping at Crawford Market, I recommend having a Royal Falooda (cold milk & ice-cream drink) at Baadshah which cost around Rs. 50, that’s less than a dollar.
Contemplate at Marine Drive
Mumbai is a fast-paced city, but there is one place where you can find peace of mind. That’s Marine Drive. If you are on a hectic business trip, or if you have too much on your mind and heart, or if you’re alone, pay a visit to this promenade during evening time and I can guarantee you’ll go back to your hotel room feeling much better. The promenade faces west so you get to see lovely sunsets here. Marine Drive offers a place to relax, to contemplate, to sit with your loved ones or alone and ponder on what’s bothering you and find answers to questions consuming you. Hear the waves splashing against the tetrapods, explore the Mumbai’s skyline, the people passing by and feel the sea breeze on your face. There are few restaurants close to Marine Drive like NewYorker and Cream Centre where you can have a full meal for Rs. 1000 ($US15), or you can try out Indian street food and kulfis at Chowpatty and the total food expense for two people (including desserts) would be well under Rs. 650, that’s 10 US dollars. You may also visit this place after sunset and be here until midnight.
So, here you have it. Well, honestly, there are much more things to do and places to visit, but if you are really on a short trip these things can offer you the right experience. These places are signature landmarks of the city and the things you do at these places will offer a unique experience like no other. If you have ever visited Mumbai, do share your experiences, or comment on attractions and places in your city.