MUMBAI’S HISTORY stresses on its importance as a vital port to the British Raj, but its real identity lies in how its local culture melded with it. The result is a unique heritage that still stands strong today. Here are some ways you can get past the façade of Mumbai and experience the unusual cultural mix that it is.
1. Kala Ghoda
If you’re in Mumbai on February, head to the Kala Ghoda area (literally meaning black horse), where the biggest cultural festival of the year takes place. The entire main street is taken over by stalls selling art and craft work, and prime performance venues are booked for plays, workshops and other events. The street is also lined with art installations, food stalls and street performers. Fair warning: it gets very crowded so avoid weekends and evenings.
2. Ride the local train
Ride the local train
The cheapest way to get around in the city, the Mumbai local train network is perhaps the most reliable entity in the city. Unless the tracks are under water during the monsoon, services run from 5am to almost 2am on three major lines. The Western line leads to the suburbs of Bandra and Andheri, the Central line to the district of Thane and the Harbour line crosses a creek into the city of Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai). The compartments reserved for women have added security after 8pm so don’t hesitate to hop on, even for a joyride!
A small heritage village tucked away in Girgaon, Khotachiwadi has the prettiest old style Portuguese houses in South Mumbai. They are mostly constructed out of wood, have small verandahs, and even tiny backyards. Unfortunately, a lot of these houses have been torn down in the past to make way for new constructions and now only a handful of them are still standing.
#culture #architecture #mumbai #history #outdoor
4. Heritage Walk
The many landmarks of South Mumbai and Fort are best taken in on foot. Raconteur walks organises some great tours of different areas in the city in all sorts of weather. You can get more information at http://mumbaiwalkingtours.com
#walking #history #city #heritage
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum
The oldest museum in Mumbai, the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum houses artifacts and finds related to the cultural history of the city. Among the most interesting displays are old maps of Bombay harbour, dioramas of different parts of the city, and an old but complete warrior’s suit of chainmail.
#history #museum #culture #mumbai
6. Elephanta Caves
Catch a ferry from Gateway to Elephanta island. The hour long ferry ride is good fun and Elephanta caves are a UNESCO world heritage site. The complex is divided into wings and the ‘Trimurti’ or the three headed sculpture is one of the most important sculptures there. Watch out for the monkeys though, they can be something of a nuisance on the island.
#history #caves #landmark
7. Chor Bazaar
Chor bazaar is tucked away in the depths of South Mumbai, as if living up to its name of “Thieves’ Market”. Basically a flea market, it deals in all sorts of random goods like automobile parts, furniture, old Bollywood paraphernalia, gramophone records and a bunch of other vintage stuff. Haggling comes quite naturally to these shop owners so you can get away with pretty decent bargains.
#bargains #vintage #antique #markets #souvenirs
8. Marine Drive, Queens Necklace
Marine Drive, Queens Necklace
The 3.5 kilometre stretch turns into a major hangout spot during the evenings so head there late afternoon. You get a great view of the skyline and if you’re there during the monsoon, the crashing waves make it extra fun!
9. Colaba Causeway
This stretch of pavement in Colaba has somw landmark cafés and stores but it is also your best bet for street shopping. Hawkers sit at their portable stalls with clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery. Brush up on your bargaining skills because you will need them here!
#streetshopping #bargain #clothes #souvenirs #shopping
10. Leopold Cafe
A popular café on Colaba causeway, Leopold Café has been running since 1871. The food and drink is pretty good. It is conveniently located on the main Street so almost everyone ends up here mostly on account of taking a break from sightseeing. It is also known for being one of the sites of the 2008 terror attacks and still displays it’s bullet holes.
#open-late #restaurant #mumbai
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