Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jostled, hurried, exuberant joyride – 24 hours in Mumbai

There are some cities, which infuse certain energy, oscillating between high and low, but always imbibe a peculiar sense of exuberance that hardly one can overlook. It was August 15, Independence Day of India, I and my friend luckily got a local train in Mumbai that was relatively roomy. That was the first day in Mumbai, I already sensed a striking similarity between Kolkata (my hometown) and Mumbai.

Well, I am here to write about a day in Mumbai, extracting the best of the city, though I know 24 hours isn't enough to explore this intoxicating city. I am citing here my favorite places, restaurants, memorable nightlife that you can also enjoy. If you are not in a budget, you can hire a car and zoom between exhilarating experiences.

Breathe in on Hill Road

g graffiti at Chapel Street mumbai ranwar
Graffiti at Ranwar
Sharukh Khan's fans never forget to visit Bandstand at the very first day, but personally I feel it is better to soak in fresh aroma of baked bread at A One Bakery on Hill Road rather than ogling blankly at Khan's bungalow. Stroll around the narrow lanes of Ranwar behind the bakery and see some amazing graffiti at Chapel Street.

Early morning is the best time to experience this city sleeping madness. There are more than 200 years old buildings hanging well all around as you slowly passing through Hill Road. For a relaxing tea, you can try 'Yoga House'. Also, you can just reach Salt Water Cafe near Lilavati Hospital Junction where you can break your fast with bacon, omelet, pancakes and more.

Delve into Asia's biggest slum

Leather market in Dharavi
Well, Dharavi is not a place that you can include in your travel itinerary but trust me, if you miss this huge slum, you will miss a chunk of Mumbai's true pulse. Dharavi is famous for its workshops and tanneries, so you can explore some of the best workshops in the world. Drop at the Sion Bandra Link road, and explore variety of leather items including bags, jackets, belts and others.

If you feel your appetite tells you give some attention, you can try quintessential vada pao at Dadar.

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Move from Washermen's Colony (Dhobi ghaat) to Haji Ali

mumbai washermen colony
Mumbai Dhoobi Ghaat
Mahalakshmi Rail station is nearby, so just drop at Washermen's Colony. This is probably the biggest washermen's colony in India, which is shrouded with white sheets, harsh smell of detergent and incessantly swattering on the washing stones. Those clothes are then dried, packed and chartered off to different hotels, hostels, other places.

South Mumbai
Next is the famous Haji Ali, a white marbled shrine located on an islet off the coast of Worli. Personally I felt there was nothing to see except lots of people queuing at the shrine. However, you can sit and watch the high tide.

Next go to Chor Bazaar (Thief's market) and Mutton Bazzar. You might find some extraordinary item in a throw away price, but remember to bargain unapologetically. Stolen goods are thought to circulate early on Friday mornings from 4.30am, but the usual market opens from 10.30am and 7.30pm every day.

Lunch at Britannia, coffee at Kala Ghoda

If anything fascinated me most in Mumbai, it was Cafe Britannia (Sprott Road), a century old Parsi restaurant adorned in a natural rustic décor. Food is exceptionally good, though there is less option for vegetarian. Don't forget to gulp a refreshing fizzy pallonjis raspberry drink.

Mumbai Municipal Corporation building
Mumbai Municipal Corporation building
If you walk a little, you will reach Fort area, which is an area full of colonial-style buildings, now converted into office complex. There is a big book shop Kitab Khana where you can browse through books. Walk further along the Flora Fountain to reach Kala Ghoda (Black Horse) to savor home-brewed organic coffee.

Beer and chicken cheese burger in Café Mondegar

Cafe Mondegar
So, you have spent enough in hopping Mumbai, now you want to rest a bit and have some beer. Colaba in my opinion is the best place to chill. I feel Leopold Café is bit overrated because of Shantaram novel and bullet marks from a 2008 terrorist attack. If you really want some cool music with good beer, Café Mondegar (Mondy’s) is the best bet. If you are 3-4 people, just take a beer tower and chilli cheese toast or chicken cheese burger. The walls are adorned by cartoons by famous cartoonist Mario Miranda. It is very near to Gateway of India, so you can just sit beside sea and soak in beer plus Mumbai intoxication.

Marine Drive and Bade Miya

Plenty of people every day sit on the Marine Drive and shrug their Mumbai fatigue. The entire stretch looks like necklace. The breezy boardwalk is for everyone. You see people do jogging or fast walking, gossiping friends, tea vendors and masseurs.

You can end the day with Marine Drive, but if you still have energy and appetite, go to Bade Miya in Colaba and savor the taste of some extraordinary kebabs and mutton.

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