weekend away - Mumbai
Written by Tanya Siqueira
A city of close to 20 million people, Mumbai was fashioned from an archipelago of islands, reclaimed over five centuries. Often dismissed as grotty and overpopulated, this metropolis has an indomitable spirit and an unquenchable thirst for progress.
Welcome to the noise and systematic chaos that is Mumbai. A city where Bollywood films and the Bombay Stock Exchange co-exist peacefully, it spells opportunity for anyone enterprising enough to try.
Get a great head start on Day One. Try a heritage walk (www.bombayheritagewalks.com) through the city’s art district, pavement bazaars, and little-known lanes, and introduce yourself to some of Mumbai’s stunning Victorian architecture. From faux ethnic jewellery to a vintage vinyl record, it’s easy to find a great bargain if you’re willing to engage in a little friendly haggling.
Wind down Day One with a stroll along Marine Drive Promenade, tender coconut in hand, and watch the sun set over the city’s ever-changing skyline. Mumbai’s serpentine coastline guarantees an abundant supply of fresh seafood. A dinner for two at Trishna in the Fort area will definitely leave you satiated and is well worth the spend. Shabby décor aside, don’t leave without trying the butter-garlic crab and prawn koliwada washed down with a sublime sol kadhi, a chilled kokum, and coconut milk drink. Move to the suburbs on Day Two and find out why besides being Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi is also the centre of small-scale industry in the city.
Sign up for a personal tour or join a group at www.realitytoursandtravel.com to be guided through the journey either on foot or on bicycles. While the city offers a choice selection of food, Mumbai’s signature vegetarian delight, the vada pav, is yet another must-try. Earlier heralded as purveyors of poor man’s food, Jumbo King with its outlets across the city provides the city’s answer to McDonalds with different types of the lightly spiced potato patty sandwiched in a loaf of bread.
For the more adventurous, surrender your fears and sample some of the street food. Don’t be afraid to ask vendors to tone down the piquant flavours if you are unsure of how much ‘heat’ (spiciness) you can handle.
It’s hard to play silent spectator in a city that draws you into its vortex of excitement, sometimes at an exasperating pace. Try not to fight it, simply close your eyes and dive right in. Expect to be pleasantly surprised.
Hotel Marine Plaza
Dhobi Ghat, Mahalaxmi
A group of close to 200 diligent laundrymen have no problems airing the city’s dirty laundry at this unique open-air washing area that’s been around for the past century.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, this 106-year old heritage structure has a number of representative collections from various sections such as archaeology, Indian miniature paintings, and a stunning natural history section. www.themuseum- mumbai.com
Touted as the ‘king of fruits’, the mighty Alphonso mango is the undisputed leader of the pack. This seasonal fruit is available from March to May and makes its way onto the menu in delicious milkshakes and desserts.