My home town: What to see, do and eat in the 'whirlwind' city of Mumbai
If you want an experience full of colour and flavour, this west coast city is a must-visit
A whirlwind of a city, Mumbai is at once charming and chaotic. From the odours that greet you as soon as you land thanks to Dharavi (Asia’s largest slum, and the best place to buy leather goods) and the humidity that assails you 10 out of 12 months, to the horn-blasting traffic and colourful streets, a visit to Maximum City is an assault on the senses in a way you may love or hate, but definitely must experience.
Take a walk
The city is colloquially divided into North Mumbai (also known as the suburbs) and South Mumbai, or SoBo. Colaba, Cuff Parade and Nariman Point are some areas of SoBo to wander through. The Gateway of India is here, as is Victoria Terminus (the main train station) and many of the colonial-era structures that made it to last year’s heritage list. The art district of Kala Ghoda is nearby – it houses the Jehangir gallery and museum, and will hold its annual festival from Saturday to Sunday, February 1 to 9.
A taxi ride away is Haji Ali mosque (accessible through a pathway cutting through the Arabian Sea), Heera Panna (the city’s official grey market) and the Worli Seaface promenade.
The farthest north you want to go on a short visit is the suburb of Bandra. Take a stroll along Pali Hill, Cater Road, Bandstand and Mount Mary steps (the latter areas home to several Bollywood stars), and visit Joggers’ Park for greenery.
From the 120 rupee (Dh6) pani puri street-food chaat you must try at Elco Market to the Rs3,850 Pacific lobster at Le Cirque Signature, Mumbai is full of delicious treats at a range of prices. While Elco uses bottled water, beware of street-side vendors who may not be as conscientious – or, better yet, stick to mid and high-end restaurants. In North Mumbai, sample Gajali, China Gate, Izumi, Arth and Yauatcha. In South Mumbai, head to Woodside Inn, Leopold Cafe (the site of the 2008 shoot-out), China Garden and Wasabi.
A cool lounge to check out is Slink & Bardot in Worli Village. Other nightlife places are The Daily in Bandra, Lord of the Drinks in Kamala Mills and Wink in Cuffe Parade.
The centrally located Palladium next to the Mills is the city’s go-to mall and houses the usual high-street and high-end shops. If you’re in the market for ethnic clothing and decor, though, head to FabIndia and Bombay Stores (for apparel and fabrics), Curio Cottage (for silver and costume jewellery), Good Earth (for furniture and home decor) and Aza (for clothes by Indian designers). The ateliers of Bollywood designers Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, Monisha Jaisingh and Anita Dongre, too, are spread out across the city.
Best time to visit
If you’re lucky, the blanket of humidity that cocoons Mumbai for the best part of the year tends to lift between mid-December and February. Temperatures still hover in the 25°C range, though. The monsoon season (from June to September) also brings cool spells, but the accompanying torrential downpour and swathes of muck may ruin your plans. Make sure you avoid visiting in scorching May and sticky October.
Books are super-cheap in Mumbai compared to the UAE – Crossroad book store has a branch in both South and North Bombay. Avoid buying books from the touts at the traffic lights, though.
Updated: January 11, 2020 10:04 AM