Go On An Adventure In Mumbai And Visit These 14 Must See Places

Mumbai was formerly known as Bombay and is a densely populated city on India’s west coast. It is the most populous city in India and the ninth most populous city in the world with an estimated population of 18.4 million. From shopping in opulent malls to travelling on packed peak hour train rides you can challenge your comfort zone and create never to be forgotten memories. Experiencing Mumbai is a unique experience that will have you wanting to explore more of the colour, vibrancy and beauty that is Mumbai.

When to visit

The most colourful time is to visit is during the celebration for Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, possibly the most recognised of all Indian Deities. He is the lord of Good Fortune who by his very name provides prosperity, fortune and success. All over the city and for ten days, celebrations are held in homes and public places. Ganesh comes out to sit on street corners, festival spaces, car dash boards, billboards and in people’s homes. This celebration usually happens in August or September.

Where to stay

Staying at the Hotel Taj Lands End provides a great mid-way access point to the North and South of Mumbai. Conveniently close to the great shopping enclave of Bandra and a mere 3.3 km to the train station, it offers a luxurious and comfortable regroup and replace spot. With beautiful views over the Arabian Sea, the pool deck is an oasis of hospitality and respite.

What to consider

  • The traffic is outrageous but don’t let it frighten you off.

  • The heat and the grime can be overwhelming. Embrace it and it will enrich your experience.

  • Get used to the frenetic pace of Mumbai. Expect to see goats, sheep and cows roaming the street in the middle of peak hour traffic.

  • Poverty is everywhere, you have to have a high tolerance and acceptance for people begging in the streets.

What to do

1.       Hiranandani Gardens

Photo Cred: Hiranandani.com 

Photo Cred: Hiranandani.com 

A visit to Hiranandani Gardens in Powai sets the tone for a taste of the opulent side of Mumbai life. It is here you will find all the global brands, trendy nightlife and a dynamic pulse of success at your fingertips. It is acknowledged as the start-up hub for IT companies impacting and influencing technology development across the world, India’s very own Silicon Valley.  The gardens are strategically located opposite the manmade Powai Lake.

The 250 acre site is an area set aside for gardens, forest and playgrounds, surrounded by Powai Lake, Majestic National Park Hills and the lush woods of Aarey Milk Colony. It is a welcome green haven amidst the chaotic urban sprawl of Mumbai.

2.       Santacruz Indoor Market

Photo Cred: Aljazeera.com

Photo Cred: Aljazeera.com

Whilst in this north region don’t forget to visit the famous Santa Cruz indoor market and feast your eyes on costume jewellery visiting beautiful Saree shops and bridal stores in the vicinity.

3.       Takkhar sweets

For those with an insatiable sweet tooth Takkhar sweets in Andheri is a must visit delight.

4.       Dharavi Slum

Travelling South and moving into the mainstream hubbub of Mumbai you can see the extreme contrast between the opulence of a modern residential estate inhabited by about 4 000 people and the severe poverty of the Dharavi slum, made famous by both the novel Shantaram, written by Gregory David Robert’s and the 2008 movie, Slum Dog Millionaire based on the novel by Vikas Swarup. It is an informal settlement of approximately 217 hectares and where approximately 700 000 and 1 million people live. Be prepared to see happy smiling faces and seemingly carefree children playing in the midst of disturbing poverty and decay.

5.       Leopold Cafe on the Colaba Causeway

Photo Cred: Tripoto.com

Photo Cred: Tripoto.com

Following Robert’s journey one can go and eat at Leopold Cafe on the Colaba Causeway. It is relatively inexpensive and is frequented by tourists rather than locals. The most memorable part of the dining experience is the extreme heat at the tables on the ground floor. A hot, humid and sweaty experience where the food is slow in coming out of the kitchen.

No matter how hot, how humid, how poor the neighbourhood, how destitute or filthy there is a colour and vibrancy of colour that defines the Mumbai landscape, like no other place in the world. The bright of the pinks, the sunshine of the oranges, the depths of blues. The beauty of flowers, fruits and street sellers abound.

6.       Chor Bazaar

The Chor Bazaar is a vibrant hub of hot, sweaty, scantily clad workers stripping down vehicles, electrical cables and all manner of recycled material. Surprising finds can be made amongst second hand and refurbished tools and recycled auto parts. In amongst all this hardware and auto paraphernalia you will also find vintage furniture and knick knacks of all shapes and hues. It is a veritable treasure trove if you are prepared to take time and dig around inside the many shop fronts that sprawl onto the street.

7.       Crawford Market

Photo Cred: Outlookindia.com

Photo Cred: Outlookindia.com

Another absolute must visit is the Crawford market housed in an architectural area rich in the occupation style of the English. The market looks like something out of Victorian London and is named after Mumbai’s first municipal commissioner.  Shops and stalls abound. The place is crowded, noisy and hot with the sound of bargaining and active selling, and the ever present humidity. There is nothing you cannot buy here with food, fruits and spices being high on the must consider list.

8.       Lunchtime delivery of tiffins (lunchboxes)

Mumbai has some amazing nowhere else in the world experiences – one of these is to experience the lunchtime delivery of tiffins to working people in the city area. Approximately 4 000 dabbawallahs (people who deliver hot food in lunchboxes to the workplace) deliver 160 000 home cooked lunches daily. Be sure to be in the region of Church station between 11.45 and 13.00 to experience this marvel. The feat achieved daily cannot be explained by any logical calculation or computer algorithm. Only 1 in 6 million tiffins does not arrive at its destination. Tiffin boxes in themselves make great lunchboxes filled with homemade meals all compartmentalized and ready to eat. Better than any commercial take away.

9.       Dhobi Ghat

The other marvel of Mumbai is Dhobi Ghat which is recognized as the world’s largest outdoor laundromat. It is located at Mahalaxmi railway station. You will never look at your weekly wash load in the same light again as people wash in the morning and are out by the afternoon.

Founded in 1890 people live and work in this confined space where the Dhobis have the auspicious honour of holding a Guinness World Record for the “most people simultaneously hand-washing clothes in a single location at once” (496 people).

10.   Worli Mosque

The Worli mosque/ shrine in the middle of Worli Bay is probably one of the most recognized landmarks in Mumbai.  This sacred place is well worth a visit and can be reached by walking across a causeway which depending on the time of day will be surrounded by water at high tide and landlocked at low tide. It has sadly not stood the test of time and the building itself is dilapidated and disintegrating. The area is disturbingly polluted but is well worth the walk as the view across the bay at night is breath-taking. It is claimed that if you pray from the heart here your wishes will be granted.

11.   Siddhi Vinayak

Another Temple that warrants a visit is Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai. It was built into a grand temple in the late 20th century, and has been the recipient of significant funding and international donations making it the richest temple trust in Mumbai. To the point of following Ganesha and the festival the temple was built to honour this great elephant deity.  This is a shrine named for Siddhi Vinayak ("Ganesha who grants your wish").

The temple is a beautiful masterpiece of architecture both internally and externally and is beautiful beyond belief. In this instance it is said that all prayers said here will be answered.

12.   Malabar Hill and The Tower Of Silence

Malabar Hill and The Tower of Silence is a tourist experience unique to Mumbai.  This peaceful garden of remembrance is a tranquil park enclave overlooking the tower which is not accessible.

The Tower of Silence is where the Parsi community carries out its 3 000 year old tradition of disposing of the dead, that is surprisingly ecologically sound (an ancient “green” practice in an over-polluted society.) It is the Zoroastrian practice of disposing of dead bodies by exposing them to the vagaries of scavenger birds. This delicate ecological balance is under serious threat due to the disappearance of vultures and other scavenger birds in the area.

Malabar Hill is a premium priced housing area with beautiful sea vistas high on the hill. It overlooks Chow Patty beach and no visit to Mumbai is complete without a visit to at least one beach. In the day it can be extremely hot and unpleasant as it is not the cleanest beach around, however sunset is the best time to visit and there are many eateries and general chill places.

13.   Gateway to India

From this West end side sea side attraction one can then travel over and save the best until last and that is a visit to the Gateway to India on the East side. The Gateway is an impending structure that looks over the Arabian Sea and is a daunting reminder of the presence of the British Raj in India. The monument was built to celebrate the visit of for King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay as it was known under occupation. The area is busy all day with buskers and street sellers peppering the open precinct. The area in the evening pumps with activity. You will find another Taj hotel close by as well as Starbucks and designer shops to titillate the senses. 

14.   Swami Vivekananda

Photo Cred: Trekearth.com 

Photo Cred: Trekearth.com 

Don’t leave without having your photo taken with the Swami Vivekananda, the first governor general of independent India who stands almost on guard protecting the sea port point of entry to Mumbai. He is seen as many to have influenced a spirit of national awakening.  Mahatma Gandhi counted him among the few Hindu reformers "who have maintained this Hindu religion in a state of splendour by cutting down the dead wood of tradition".