A Guide To Mumbai: Maximum City

With a population of over 20 million people, life is buzzing at every hour in Mumbai.

Published: 12 October 2018, Text by: Sonia Sahni

Mumbai … For The Tourist

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Credit: Anoop Ravi via Wikimedia Commons
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Credit: Anoop Ravi via Wikimedia Commons

For centuries, the Fort area of Mumbai has been the centre of development, art and architecture. The Fort and Colaba areas in Mumbai have examples of Gothic architecture that entwine themselves into the everyday lives of the locals. The Chathrapati Shivaji Terminus is one such building – a railway station that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The keen eye of an observer, comfortable shoes to walk in, and light clothing to combat Mumbai’s humid weather are the must-haves to take on the lanes that house the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco buildings in Mumbai.

Mumbai … For The Shopper

Mumbai is India’s fashion capital. Colaba Causeway is a bustling street, lined with stalls that sell everything, ranging from trousers that cost USD5 (RM20.50) to a rare gemstone that can cost USD5,000 (RM20,500)! Another great location to shop is the suburb of Bandra, where stylish clothes and accessories can be bought at reasonable prices.

Striking a good bargain is the way to shop in Mumbai, and most street vendors mark up the price and are happy to do a quick round of “negotiations”. Selecting all that you want and then bargaining for a better total price usually yields the best results.

Mumbai … For The Foodie

Pav Bhaji. Credit: Harsh Agrawal via Wikimedia Commons
Pav Bhaji. Credit: Harsh Agrawal via Wikimedia Commons

When in Mumbai, sampling the street food that the city is known for is a must. The vada pav is popular, comprising a spicy potato ball, coated in a gram flour batter and fried, served in a piece of soft bread, with sweet and spicy chutneys. Another dish that you must try in Mumbai is pav bhaji, a tangy concoction of vegetables served with buttered bread.

Mumbai … For The Luxury Seeker

Taj Mahal Palace. Credit: Joe Ravi via Wikimedia Commons
Taj Mahal Palace. Credit: Joe Ravi via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re not travelling on a budget, the Taj Palace is the place to stay. The hotel first opened its doors in 1903. The Taj Group is known for its hospitality; staying in such an iconic property elevates the experience by a notch. Another property known for its views and service is The Oberoi at Nariman Point. Both the Taj Palace and The Oberoi have restaurants that can please even the pickiest eaters.

If you enjoy a drink while watching the sun go down, Aer, the luxe open-air rooftop bar at the Four Seasons hotel, is a must-visit. If dressing up and dancing to some good music is what you’re after, head to Asilo, the highest rooftop bar in Mumbai.

Mumbai … For The Movie Buff

Mumbai, also known as the city of dreams, is home to Bollywood, which is the prime movie-making hub of the country. In 2017, there were over 350 Hindi movies released in the country – that’s an average of nearly one movie per day.

While you can make your way to a movie hall anywhere around the world to watch a Bollywood release, Mumbai is the best place to watch movies being made. Film City, an integrated film studio complex, has several man-made shooting locations that include mansions, gardens and lakes. The location can be visited in an organised tour, and chances are high you will run into Bollywood celebrities while they are filming.

Mumbai … For The Offbeat Traveller

Mumbai never sleeps. It’s a city that is always on the move. If you want to feel the pulse of the city and know what makes the city move and the locals tick, hop on a local train and travel from Churchgate to Bandra. Often, locals spend hours while commuting to work and make friends en route. It is common to see people playing cards, saying their prayers and studying for an exam on the local train. Be warned that local trains are extremely crowded and the best time to travel is possibly midday.

Mumbai's Dabbawalas. Credit: Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons
Mumbai's Dabbawalas. Credit: Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

Another experience worth your time is watching the Dabbawalas. This is the service that delivers fresh home-cooked food to offices or schools. The Dabbawalas do not use technology to execute their services, yet the system is Six Sigma-compliant and has impressed many, including Britain’s Prince Charles and Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson.

Mumbai … For The Culture Vulture

Mumbai is a melting pot of cultures and has developed a culture that is unique to itself. If you wish to get a glimpse of the elements that add colour and vibrance to this city and give many “Mumbaikars” faith, the Siddhivinayak Temple is a must-visit religious site. Dedicated to the Lord Ganesh, the temple is visited daily by thousands who offer their prayers and traditional sweets to the deity and seek his blessings.

Mumbai … For The Socially Conscious

Mumbai is a city of contrasts. It is home to Mukesh Ambani, who has beaten Jack Ma to become the richest Asian. It is also home to one of the largest slums in Asia, Dharavi. If your soul is driven by social impact and you want to know more about the living conditions in the slums of Mumbai, join a walking tour through Dharavi. The tour will help you understand the daily lives of the locals as well as give you a peek into the thriving cottage industries such as the manufacture of leather goods, pottery and embroidery, to name a few.

Cover illustration by Josephine Skapare

Credits: Pav Bhaji, Mumbai's Dabbawalas, Taj Mahal Palace, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus 

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