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akhila Mumbai - A travel report by akhila
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Mumbai,  India - flag India -  Mahåråshtra
5639 readers

akhila's travel reports

Mumbai:A place so profound can only be experienced

  18 votes
Ramee hotel, khar jaana hai I said as I boarded. Tension nahi lena ka madam- apun aapko barabar pahuchaayega- said the assuring auto wala, resetting the meter, upon seeing my worried palor as I made it out of Taj towads my destination at Khar. report of the month contest
Nov 2007

mumbai from the band stand
mumbai from the band stand
The high rise, celebrity homes and 5* hotels in Bandra were a striking contrast to the slums across the well known jogging tracks of band stand. But there was a subtle order even in the visible chaos, aspirations and dedicated action, so many people and so much activity..a place that's always on the move. Welcome to Mumbai! My heartfelt desire to visit this city where fames and dreams are realised, came true, but the bombay-picture I had painted in my mind for over 20 years was slowly being replaced by a totally different one. Young romantic couples slowly faded away giving way to crowd waiting on a celebrity, wholesale shops, bus stops, people returning from work and reaffirming trust in an alien city, I was at my destination barabar, on SV road in 20 min The one thing that did not fade away until 2 AM was activity. The only quiet time at night was probably less than a toddler's afternoon nap. At 5AM it was already time to catchup for the most anticipated mumbai darhsan, personalised by my friend.

Favourite spots:
Haji Ali Dargah - Mumbai
Haji Ali Dargah - Mumbai
Ganpati darshan at sidhi vinayak temple Prabhadevi - the hindu shrine that clears all obstacles and attracts visitors as early as 4AM. The small (2 feet tall) yet powerful ganesha in orange, a quiet darshan, amidst early morning vedic chanting- absolute contrast to the over 20 ft tall monolith that I'd seen at Madurai last month. Heartfelt prayers, offerings.. the next stop was Haji Ali. Built in the 15th century on a small islet off Worli is this shrine that had all the pomp of a post Eid celebration. The narrow causeway that connects the dargah to the mainland is inaccessible during high tide. "We're pretty early, but it isnt high tide, the waters are clear and we can make it, walk fast", coaxed Renu as I tried to observe everything around this place. Walking over the rocks, amidst festive crowd and an overbearing stench of the waters, we finally made it. The tomb housing the casket of "haji Ali", was covered in green/red chadar and had beautiful carvings and inscriptions from Quran.

What's really great:
Aounrd the VT area.
Aounrd the VT area.
Across from Haji Ali, we could see the Mahalakshmi temple, another construction from the 18th century, connected to Haji Ali by a causeway too(but inaccessible because of waters)- we had to drive to the shrine. Flowers and offerings, sweet shops in plenty and beautiful marathi women, alongside the small ascent to the temple. Absolutely colourful, much cleaner and so apt for the hindu festive season. TV screens showed the prayers in progress and the 3 small idols in the main shrine. Women were forefront here and thronged the place with offerings. After a short breakfast with masala dosa and vada and famous Moong Pakodas for the take out, we headed off to the next destination - the heart of a throbbing city.

The driver accidentally made way through a street in the heart of kamathipura -I was scared to meet an eye with reality of the red light area in Mumbai. Shanty, 2-3 storey old buildings, packed with young women, with painted faces and hapless looks, left me in unanticipated agony.

At the gateway.
At the gateway.
The heart of the city (old Mumbai) is steeped in Victorian history. The sight of Victoria terminus (1888) was a welcome change. A clear example of Gothic architecture that took over 10 years to build had india's first steam engine chugging out of this station. It formed a fine backdrop to Black and yellow taxis and red buses and had room for the ever moving mumbai crowd of over a million per day. Stained glass, arches, grills and motifs, a testimony to the colonaial rule in India. One can spend an entrire day around this place exploring and admiring the details. Pressed for time as I was, we did not venture out much here- took some pictures and were at the gateway of india (dated:1911-1924)-which despite the rennovation around the site was the most attractive tourist destinations. I shared my lunch/sncak with pigeons, ventured into the old and new Taj hotels, allowed a total stanger to get a shot of us for Rs.50 and tried making most of the view of the massive gateway and waterfront.

Mount Mary's church
Mount Mary's church
Continuing to make most of the one day Mumbai darshan, we made it past the clock tower, the NSE/BSE- the hallmarks of trade in Mumbai and Mantralaya and Marine Drive. Kamala Nehru Park and the Old Lady's shoe- the only green patch in the city provided a peaceful afternoon retreat. The post-eid crowd, was everywhere and a bollywood song being shot at the shoe just made the afternoon more lively.

We drove past some of the other beaches and took a break again at the peaceful area around Mount Mary's church. Tucked away on a small ascent in Bandra, in the peaceful quarters of portugese settlements from the 18th century. The church itself is over 100 years old. It was just the three of us in there with the lord, a welcome break from the city crowd.

It was almost sunset, we decided to have a quick bite and check out the Juhu beach. Juhu was close to Khar- I was put up at ramee guestline Khar, the rooms were OK, but a little too expensive for 5000 INR per day.

Clay idols of durga and festive offers in Mumbai
Clay idols of durga and festive offers in Mumbai
This is one place that never sleeps. People are always on the move, bars, pubs, discos and a very lively nightlife, there's plenty here. It was Navratri- the nine days festivities in India before winter. It has something in store for the traditional/moderns. These nights are spent in prayers to the godess durga/lakshmi and Dandiya (dance)nights are permissible even in conservative families during the festive season. These same 9 nights (Nav Ratri) are celebrated all over India in different styles in each state. Durga Puja in Bengal/East, Dussera in the North, Dandiya in the west and Dolls decoration/music in the south.

The crowd was overwhelming, and me being overly conservative, I did not venture into the Dandiya as I was content with the Durga puja function that I witnessed after almost a decade at one of the local pandals in Mumbai.

Cricket fans were all around the hotel pub to catch upon one of the recent cricket stars who made it to teh bar before the ODI scheduled in town.

At the Juhu beach
At the Juhu beach
The artificial boulders at Marine drive are an excellent place to spend time, especially at the night when teh city is lit around the drive and looks like a necklace. Even a solitary walk along the drive is refreshing - I would recommend a companion though.

The Juhu Beach is another great place to spend evenings at. Watch the sun set at any of the beaches in the vast sea line along Mumbai, while enjoying a bhel or a spicy snack.

Afternoons are best spent at the Kamla nehru park or hanging gardens or quiet shopping at Hypercity or one of the recent Malls in the city.

The never ending shops of Manish market, Crawford market (near VT) and linking road - old shopping places, lively in the evenings and best explored by foot. I spent an entire evening shopping at Linking road, until it was almost time for me to leave for the airport. It was only towards the end of a 3 hour window shopping spree that I came to terms with my pathetic bargaining skills. Shoppers Stop came to my rescue.

Moong Vada - snack at Mahalakshmi
Moong Vada - snack at Mahalakshmi
Mumbai being teh trade center and an international hub caters food from around the world. It is easy to find multicuisine restaurants anywhere in the city. Both North and south Indian dishes are available everywhere too, but what is ethnic and great in Mumbai is.."sabudana khichri" - a spicy dish made from pearl of tapioca, Aaalu poha, and ofcouse mouthwatering Paav Bhaaji (sandwich buns with spicy vegetables, served with minced onions, a slice of lemon and a cube of butter melting on the bhaaji)

There are several brands of cool drinks and flavoured milk (branded as ENRGEE) to test one's resistance and provide a respite to the sunny afternoons. They these at your own risk (especially for people visiting from abroad).

Renu (my friend in Mumbai) mentioned that it was sacrilege to not taste the Moong pakodas at Mahalakshmi. They were as important as the visit to the temple itself. I'm glad I abided, yummy pakodas fresh from the oil...unforgettable.

I'm glad I visited Mumbai!

Other recommendations:
Rajabai tower
Rajabai tower
Mumbai being the hub in Western India,there are several places in and around Mumbai that one can go around. The Ashtavinayak tour for the religious, the famous Shirdi temple is a few hours from here.

Hill stations of Lonavala and Khandala and the road to Pune, I heard are a must see.

There are regular day tours that leave for the elephanta caves from the Gateway of India.

The entire region needs a few days of well planned, peaceful and tolerant visit.

Its well worth taking time out to watch one of the recent bollywood releases in the oldest [1933[ cinema theatre (the regal talkies) in Mumbai.

Take a ride around Bandra/Juhu spotting celebrity homes with a mumbaikar.

This is also an excellent place to shop for souveniers for people visitng India. Almost everything from around India can be found here - handicrafts, glass bangles, accessories, garments and a whole lot.

Thanks to my friend - I made most of my Mumbai visit.

Published on Thursday December 20th, 2007

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Thu, Jan 17 2008 - 11:33 AM rating by bineba

A well deserved report of the month. Well done!

Wed, Jan 16 2008 - 06:14 AM rating by adisidh

Hi akhila nice Interesting report.

Sun, Jan 13 2008 - 10:03 AM rating by louis

Grat report with detailed informations. After reading I decied to see Mumbai one day

Thu, Jan 03 2008 - 12:34 AM rating by downundergal

Colourful decriptions, detailed info and full of personal observations. One day I will definately try to visit.

Tue, Jan 01 2008 - 04:39 PM rating by mistybleu

Akhila, a wonderful/detailed report on Bombia, as some of my new friends from Delhi call it. It's a place I'm now intrigued to visit.

Nice work!

Thu, Dec 27 2007 - 03:14 AM rating by zrusseff

Akhila, thanks for sharing your detailed account of Mumbai. It is especially great to read when you got such wonderful photographs. I may not need to visit after all. Just kidding.
Great job!

Fri, Dec 21 2007 - 07:37 AM rating by marianne

Akhili, I loved reading this. You covered almost everything. Mumbai is such an interesting place to visit, you showed the city in all its glory. I love your photos especially the moong vada.

Thu, Dec 20 2007 - 11:49 AM rating by davidx

I have heard and read a lot on Mumbai but nothing that brings it to life better than this.

Thu, Dec 20 2007 - 08:57 AM rating by jorgesanchez

This is an exhaustive report about the most populated and exciting Indian town, written by an Indian connoisseur of her country. Congratulations!

Thu, Dec 20 2007 - 08:55 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent lively report full of tips and characteristics of this major world city. No recommended place for visitors to stay or just a comment about accommodation? Perhaps you stayed with friends :-) [4.75]

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