Last weekend I did something I hadn’t done for years - which was a weekend trip with the family to Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, the city of Bollywood, and perhaps India’s most cosmopolitan city. Not too much seemed to have changed in Mumbai, except that the roads seem to be getting even more crowded than before if that was possible!! One thing that has changed though is the drive from the Airport to South Mumbai (The area with all of Mumbai’s tourist attractions) via the Bandra Worli Sea Link, an architectural marvel that not only looks great but also cuts the travel time to south Mumbai by almost 30 minutes. After spending just a few hours in Mumbai, I was convinced that south Mumbai, and the areas close to Nariman Point and the Gateway of India, were the only places where a tourist would want to be in while visiting Mumbai.
The must-see and do’s of Mumbai, would be the the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s iconic monument facing the Arabian sea, built to honor the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary during the British Raj, a drive past Marine Drive, Mumbai’s popular promenade facing the sea, a visit to Mani Bhavan ,a house where the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi spent a lot of time, that has been converted into a small museum … one of the must do’s in Mumbai would be having a cup of tea, or rather a High Tea, with pastries, scones, and kebabs and at the Sea Lounge of the Taj Mahal Hotel. Next, to the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Hotel is possibly the most photographed building in Mumbai.
The two other activities that I would highly recommend in Mumbai would be, first the Heritage Walking Tour, and then the Elephanta Island trip. The Walking tour that we did start at the Gateway of India, lasted about 2½ hrs and we walked past many of Mumbai’s colonial heritage buildings and landmarks including the Regal Cinema, Elphinston College, the David Sasoon Library, the Victoria Train station, the Prince of Wales Museum, etc. We loved the walk, wasn’t too tiring in spite of the weather, and the architecture of this area, coupled with the energy that surrounds you while you are on the streets of Mumbai, made it well worth the effort and I would certainly say it’s a must-do. The Elephanta Caves, a few miles into the sea, accessible by boat (a very basic public boat service is the only way to go) were next on our agenda. A World Heritage Site, the rock-cut Elephanta Caves, built between the 5th and the 8th centuries, house temples mainly dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva – another must-do for visitors o Mumbai. Just one suggestion—if you can, avoid doing the Elephanta trip on Sundays and weekends - the boats can get extremely crowded.
Enough about sightseeing... the foodies that we are, we also decided to sample some of Mumbai’s restaurants, Trishna and Mahesh’s (both located in South Mumbai close to the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Marine Drive) was tops as far as Indian food went, and among the others we tried, Mumbai’s famous Olive Bar and Kitchen (in the western suburb of Bandra) and Le Pain Quotidian (a European style eatery located a stones throw from the Gateway of India) were great places to eat at.
The author, Kapil Goswamy is the Managing Director/CEO of Trans India Holidays, based in New Delhi, India.