Mumbai is a city that welcomes you with an open heart and makes you fall in love with it. It’s known for the welcoming and helpful attitude of the people, and its cultural diversity, absorbing any and every culture that comes in contact with it. It’s often called ‘the city that never sleeps’ because of its fast-paced life. Want something different at some odd time of the day or night? Chances are that you will find it in Mumbai.
But if you are on the look out for something different, something non-touristy and unique to do while here, this is the perfect place for you.
Sailing at Gateway of India
The most famous landmark in Mumbai is the Gateway of India, built by the British in 1924. Thousands of tourists visit the monument and it can get very noisy and crowded. What better way to enjoy the beauty of the structure as well as escape the crowds than to sail in a yacht on the Arabian Sea? Sail around in little sailing boats or yachts and see the regal Taj Mahal Hotel dominating the skyline. You can witness a spectacular view of the city’s iconic landmarks from another perspective, and spend a relaxed morning taking in the sun and the fresh sea breeze.
Stepping into the lanes of Kala Ghoda at Fort feels like stepping into another world. In contrast to the fast-paced city with wide roads and humongous traffic, these narrow lanes with cute cafés dotted around lets you unwind like nothing else. Stroll around the lanes and try out different delicacies at the Pantry Café, Kala Ghoda Café, the Nutcracker to name just a few. There is even a Jewish Synagogue in one of these lanes. If you are here in January, the Kala Ghoda festival – the popular art and cultural festival is a must visit.
Kitab Khana, located at Flora Fountain (now known as Hutatma Chowk) is a bookstore, with a café inside. Stepping into the bookstore, you are greeted with shelves and shelves of books reaching up to the ceiling, arranged according to genre from Fiction and Non-Fiction to History, Design, Architecture, Psychology, Indian Literature, Teen Fiction, Children’s Books and so on. There are quaint, comfortable armchairs to sit on and read for hours on end during warm, lazy afternoons. But the best part is the café inside, called Food For Thought, where you get the most mouth watering and delicious smelling bakery products. You can drink a cup of hot tea or coffee while reading your favorite, newly purchased novels here.
The Mumbai Skyline
Ask anyone from Mumbai to tell you one place that describes the essence of Mumbai, and nine out of ten people will say Marine Drive. Especially during the rains, Marine Drive is the heart and soul of Mumbai. But Marine Drive isn’t the only place to go to if you are a sea lover and like to sit and think by the sea. Mumbai has plenty of beaches and promenades, like Girgaum Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Worli Seaface, and Carter Road at Bandra. Spend an evening at any of these places, enjoying the breathtaking sunset over the Arabian Sea. Or if you’re a morning person, wake up at dawn and witness the glorious sunrise at Walkeshwar in South Mumbai.
The railway system is the lifeline of Mumbai, and you can’t experience the life of a Mumbaikar without travelling by this over-crowded, but super-efficient means of transport. Just make sure to go in the afternoon or at a time when it will be relatively less crowded, if you’re not used to crowds sticking to you. Trains are the best way to get around the city while avoiding the infamous traffic jams. There is an extremely helpful app for traveling in Mumbai, that gives you the train timings, stations on the different railway lines, maps, bus stops and everything else required to travel with ease.
Khau Galli, which literally means ‘Food Street’ in Marathi (the local language) is the best place to sample the street food of the city, ranging from the staple Vada Pav, to the wide variety of ‘Chaat’ like Pani Puri, Sev Puri and Bhel Puri. The Khau Galli at Churchgate is famous for the Pav Bhaji, Chaat and Milkshakes, while the famous Khau Galli at Ghatkopar is known for the sandwiches and South Indian street food, the specialties which include the ‘Jini Dosa’ among various other innovative but delicious dosas.
Spend a day exploring the architecture and beauty of the Babulnath Mandir, Mumba Devi Temple (the goddess of which the city is named after), Mahalakshmi Temple, Haji Ali Dargah and Mount Mary Church, which are among the hundreds of holy structures that adorn the city. Mumbai is not only diverse culturally, but also in its spiritual beliefs. This however does not stop the people of different faiths and beliefs from visiting, being respectful of, and praying at the holy places of other religions and beliefs.
Spread over 103 sq. kms, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, also known as the Borivali National Park is the largest national park in the world to be situated within city limits. You can visit the park to enjoy the flora and fauna living within it by going on the Lion and Tiger Safari, walking on a nature trail, having a picnic by the lake or trekking in the hills. The park is also home to the 2400 years old Kanheri Caves, which are a group of 109 ancient Buddhist caves in the center of the park.
If you are new to Mumbai and don’t know anyone here, it is likely that you will feel overwhelmed at the beginning. But fret not, Mumbaikars are known for their hospitality and helpful attitude. Give the city a chance, and it will make you fall in love with it.
A bookworm with a love for writing and a passion for traveling. Born and brought up in Mumbai, India. My love for traveling and exploring the world started three years ago on my first trip abroad, and has only grown bigger since. There is just something about traveling and stepping out of your comfort zone that brings out a different side of you, a side that you would otherwise never know exists, and that’s what compels me to travel.
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