Aamchee Mumbai – The Cultural Mish-Mash of India
Mumbai is the second largest metropolitan city of India, after the National Capital Region of Delhi. It is the country’s commercial capital as well as the epicenter of the entertainment industry, with Bollywood, or the Hindi film industry being the anchor point. The immensely cosmopolitan fabric of the city gives myriad layers to its culture and lifestyle in all spheres – from the performing arts to fine arts, food to fashion and films to festivities. The city proper, or the ‘town’ as it is popularly known, is dotted with heritage monuments, which give it a characteristic old world charm. And this interestingly blends, very effortlessly with the modern day developments, giving you the best of both worlds.
First things first: Enter into the heart of Mumbai, quite literally through the Gateway of India. The place has a festive look and feel about it. Professional photographers will help you lock your memories in pictures over here. From the Gateway you can hire yachts to cruise along the Arabian Sea or cross over to the other end of the island to Alibaug for spending the day in one of the farmhouses there.
Right across the road from Gateway, is the glorious Taj Palace Hotel famous as much for its architecture as its hospitality. The whole area is surrounded by buildings sporting colonial architecture at its best and houses eateries for all tastes and varieties.
As you leisurely walk down the lanes you reach Colaba, the quintessentially ‘hippie’ area, as it is hugely popular with foreigners. Here you can shop for knick knacks, mementoes, Indian handicrafts at the Colaba Causeway or alternately chill at the number of eateries and cafes found here, including the famous Leopold Café. This area houses famous brands and boutiques as well.
Entertainment zones: As you move further into the city, you are greeted by the Flora Fountain, nearby are the famous cinema halls, namely Metro and Regal, for those wanting to catch up on the latest release. Visit the Crawford Market, which is a wholesale market and probably one of the oldest markets in Mumbai or shop for clothes on the Fashion Street.
After dark joints: You cannot but be on the Marine Drive which is Mumbai’s boulevard. The haven for pedestrians and drivers alike is U-shaped, and hence when the lights are turned on after dark, one gets the impression of a Queen’s Necklace. You can sit by the sea, or take a walk along the promenade. The area also houses numerous cafes as well as fine dining options, famous among them being, Pizza by the Bay, Kabab Corner, and Koh.
For the Water Babies: A drive down Marine Drive will take you to the Chowpatty beach. Here you can swim, relax and also enjoy the local street food which includes vada pao, paobhaji, pani puris and wash it all down with nariyal pani or tender coconut water. Over and above these delights the Chowpatty beach is also well-known as a fresh air hangout for couples both young and old in the business of Mumbai!
Divine Intervention: As mentioned, Mumbai is a very cosmopolitan city, and as such people are extremely tolerant and respectful of each other’s religion. When you further go down the road from Chowpatty, you come across the famous Mahalaxhmi Temple, and just beside it, is the pathway leading to the famous Haji Ali dargah, which is located in the middle of the sea. Visit the Siddhivinayak temple, Mumba Devi temple or the church of Bom Jesus.
Connoisseurs of Art: Mumbai is home to many art galleries. Exhibitions of international standards are held at the Jahangir Art Gallery, located in the Kala Ghoda precinct. One can also go to the Elephanta Caves to see historical sculptures. A trip to Film City is also possible as the city boasts of a rich lineage of cinematic studios and starry anecdotes. Another option for sporting leisure of the city’s erstwhile charm can be caught first-hand at the Mumbai Gymkhana or the various cricket clubs – a thriving sport in & around the city.
Collection of islands: Mumbai, a collection of small islands put together stretches itself in the north with old Mumbai giving way to Greater Mumbai or the suburbs. This has gradually become an equally important part of the city, stretching as far as the district of Thane. Dotted with malls, entertainment zones, shopping centers and various hang outs, this is an equally important part of the city now, and a must visit for tourists.