When In Mumbai…

If you have just two days in Mumbai (Bombay), here is how you can enjoy a proper Bombay experience! 

Gateway Of India

Gateway of India

Take a ferry from the Gateway of India (est. 1924) in Colaba in South Mumbai to Elephanta island. The 45-minute sail drops you off at the Hindu and Buddhist caves with sculptures of deities that date from the fifth to eight centuries.

Don’t miss the monkeys on the island. They are entertaining with their antics. Best not to interact with them though. Visit in the morning to avoid the rush and beat the heat. The first boat departs at 9am. Tickets are priced at ₹120 and are available at the Gateway. An hour should suffice for a walk around Elephanta island.

At Elephanta caves

 Inside the Elephanta caves

Once back in Mumbai, eat at any Iranian cafè in the Fort area — a 10-minute drive north from Gateway. These cafes were opened in large numbers by the Persians who had migrated to India in the early 1900s. Since then they have been the charm of Fort, and subsequently of Mumbai. The most popular of these is Yazdani Bakery (Address: near Fountain, Akbar Ally, Saint Thomas Cathedral, Fort). You may want to start with the very buttery bun brun maska and tea.

Down the road from Fort on Hutatma Chowk is another sculpture — Flora Fountain — that dates back to 1864.
It was sculpted in honour of the Roman goddess Flora, and is a beautiful display in the evenings when lit up. Not very far from here on Shahid Bhagat Singh Road is the Lion Gate, managed by the Indian Navy. Its exterior wall depicts various elements of the sea in a dramatic mural. Unfortunately the Navy discourages you from lingering in the area, but if you hurry, you can get a quick photo.

Flora Fountain

Flora Fountain

Eat at Britannia and Company Restaurant, which is a 10-minute walk from the Navy building and has been famous for Parsi food since 1923. Don’t expect a lavish ambience though. Their bentwood furniture has sustained each passing year and so has their popularity, especially during lunch hours (noon to 4pm, after which it closes for the day). Salli boti, dhansak and berry pulao should be your choices to share. If you

are lucky, 92-year-old Boman Kohinoor, son of founder will play host to you. Ever so charming, he will personally take your order and tell you what you should eat, show you his collection of the clippings of the Queen and her family, and even share stories from his past.

Travel northward and get off at Haji Ali — one of the more beautiful tombs in the city. It was built in 1918 and is about 457 metres from Mumbai’s shoreline. During Eid and Ramzan the building is lit up and eludes a warm golden glow. Eat at HajiAli Juice Center (hajialijuicecentre.in) for a taste of authentic falooda, an Indian dessert. Before this,
grab a spread of Indian delectables at Swati Snacks (swatisnacks.com), a 10-minute drive from Haji Ali towards Tardeo. This is a vegetarian restaurant known for Gujarati cuisine and other fast foods. Panki, chilla, sev puri, pav bhaji and sugar cane juice must be ordered.

Mural on navy wall

Mural on the Indian Navy wall

A 20-minute drive from here is Siddhi Vinayak temple in Prabhadevi. It is one of the most revered places of worship in Mumbai, especially on Tuesdays when the crowd lines up for hours. After paying your respects to Lord Ganesha who sits inside, it is believed that whispering your wish into his mouse’s ear makes it come true.

Bandra, a 25-minute local train ride or a one-hour drive from Colaba is better known for its street art. Social, satirical, and trending graphics are spray painted on the walls of Chapel Road.

Eat at Punjab Sweet House (Dhiraj Arcade, 84 BR Ambedkar Road, Bandra West), which is famous for chaat, a typical Indian snack.

Run by the Arabian Sea on Marine Drive, Girgaum Chowpatty, Worli Seaface, Bandstand Promenade, or Juhu beach for a refreshing cardio hour.

Written for Business Traveller India | June 2015 | Volume 1 Issue 2 

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