Often referred to as the ‘city that never sleeps’ and the ‘city of dreams,’ Mumbai with a population of more than 10 million, is the largest city in India. It’s the most diverse, cosmopolitan and westernized city with a vibrant economy.
Mumbai offers visitors unique sights as well as a taste of mixed cultures. From street stalls to crowded markets, skyscrapers to shantytowns, ethnic cuisines to international foods, historic sites to landmarks, the city has it all. Mumbai is said to be India’s very own New York City. Besides being the city of events, it is also the home of Bollywood bling and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Although the roads are always bustling with activity throughout the day, nights too are no different. However, it’s good to get out and explore early to avoid unnecessary traffic.
On the first day as I ventured out early morning, I saw the first appearance of light on Marine Drive aka the ‘Queen’s Necklace,’ which is a 4.3 km long boulevard in South Mumbai. It garlands the city like a necklace road and is situated alongside the Arabian Sea. The environment around this place is totally intoxicating though it’s usually crowded, it is a perfect place for a morning walk or just to sit and enjoy the weather and watch the tides go back and forth with a cup of tea or coffee, which is easily available on the promenade.
The ambiance of Marine Drive is not only addictive, but definitely worth visiting during the monsoon season to watch the colorful rainbow and to smell the wet soil and the damp road. This beach is crowded yet calm, happening yet peaceful and boisterous yet tranquil.
Closely located to Marine Drive is the Gateway of India that was built in the Indo-saracenic style and to get the best view of the Gateway, I booked a table by the window at the Sea Lounge at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel located opposite to it. I was informed that the Sea Lounge is a must visit on the itinerary of any visitor who wants to enjoy the view.
Among the many distinctive attractions in the city, several places light up my mind such as Juhu beach, the Bandra-Worli sea link (Mumbai’s first cabled sea link bridge), Colaba Causeway, Fashion Street, Carter Road and Silver Beach.
Even though there are innumerable places that are a must visit, the Colaba Causeway has a charm of its own. A visit to this place is an absolute must. It’s a place where one can find everything from cheap street clothes to fashionable boutiques. It houses old buildings from the British rule, so you will not only gain a new wardrobe but also a lesson or two in history.
Moreover, the best part of this place is that a stroll behind the Colaba Causeway will take you to the Gateway of India and the grand Taj Mahal Palace. Usually, locals and tourists alike visit these places on foot. A bus ride and a variety of restaurants along the Colaba Causeway are some of the attractions.
Shopping at Mohammed Ali Road, Linking Road, Crawford Market and the Fashion Street is affordable and fun. From clothes to shoes, bags and accessories, one can find everything that you need to stay in fashion.
Mumbai’s markets cater to all budgets, styles and tastes. Talking about tastes, there is so much to discover in food here. If this city doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t stop eating either. However, in order to do justice to Mumbai, I tried my best to taste different kinds of meals — street food, Konkani Coastal (seafood), vegetarian Maharashtrian, south Indian, skewered kebabs and grill items and Parsi (Iranian staple food).
However, one dish that scores above all is the Vada Pav, which is referred to as the poor man’s burger in Mumbai. It is a meal that you will find on every street, crossroad and turn. Pav is an Indian bread bun, and Vada is a fritter stuffed with mashed potato in between the bread.
Similarly, another staple go-to snack is Pav Bhaji, an evergreen dish that is made up of vegetables and served with bread. Few shops or food stalls in Mumbai are open all day and serve fabulous mouth-licking cuisine that one should not miss. These dishes have attained an almost cult following among tourists and locals.
Apart from the famous sea beaches, Mumbai has several other attractive tourist spots. Mosques and monuments dating back to centuries are worth visiting. These include the Elephanta caves, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Asiatic Society Library, Bombay High Court and Chatrapaty Shivaji Terminus, all of which represent the architectural richness of the city.
There are several other places that I wish to write about, there is simply no end. I hope you find plenty of reasons to add Mumbai to your travel bucket list.