By Boshika Gupta
A trip to India’s financial capital Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay is incomplete without a quick detour leading to a dive bar, a generous helping of the local favorite – the humble vada pav and a bit of trouble. The city’s mad streets demand your attention as you try to take in everything at once. A burst of colours, children and adults offering people tiny trinkets, snacks and balloons at traffic signals, general chatter and a sense of urgency as the vehicles zoom off into the distance as soon as the coast is clear.
The city is extremely eclectic with a little something for every kind of traveller. On the first day, head to Marine Drive for an early morning walk by the sea. Pop into the nearest Saltwater Café for a delicious breakfast and coffee before heading to Haji Ali for a sight like no other. The mosque has a life of its own with visitors showing up in large numbers every day for respite and some comfort. Dress modestly and spend some time observing the sights and sounds at the six-hundred year old structure. Interesting fact – entry to the dargah is largely dependent on the tides as it stands on a tiny islet in the middle of Worli bay.
People walk along the causeway to get to the dargah, making it one of the most memorable parts of the visit. Expect to see a lot of activity and get a taste of Haji Ali that feels like it has largely remain untouched by time. Do drop by the popular Haji Ali Juice Center for fresh juice and ask for a bowl of fruit cream to satiate your sweet tooth.
For lunch, head to Pizza by the bay for unparalled views and a scrumptious serving of chicken pizza with bruschetta and refreshing sangria. Spend your afternoon and evening in the Fort area, browsing through a unique selection of books at Wayword & Wise. Haggle for local accessories in Colaba before settling at the bar. Woodside Inn is great for good music, lots of food and evening cocktails.
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The next day, get a taste of Parsi food at a local Irani café. These timeless eateries have a legacy of their own and have been around for a long time, retaining their otherworldly charm. Kyani & Co. and Jimmy Boy come in highly recommended. Feast on brun maska, caramel custard, berry pulao, keema pav, and mutton dhansak followed by delicious mawa cake. Do order piping hot cups of Irani chai for good measure. Opt for an early visit to the Gateway of India, an arch monument from the 20th century and squeeze in time for Bayview Café that offers a stunning rooftop view of the sea served with generous amounts of chicken and beer.
Head to the suburbs and walk on Bandra’s intriguing streets. Ask locals to guide you to Chapel road for a dose of graffiti and street art before stopping for a shopping spree at Linking Road. Bargain like your life depends on it and get a vada pav from Shankar Vada Pav, Bandra Talao. For indie jewellery designs, head to Curio Cottage in the area and browse through danglers, necklaces and more at affordable rates. Hire an auto-rickshaw to the locality’s most popular dive bar, Janata and down a few drinks at throwaway prices before wolfing down delicious burgers at Gostana with an extra helping of cheesecake at Theobroma.
You must look for listings linked to Juhu’s Prithvi theatre and buy tickets for a play at the iconic venue. Call for cutting chai while you’re there and strike up a conversation with a local artist at the buzzing café.
Do go for a meal later at Razberry Rhinoceros and treat yourself to butter chicken, pork curry, whisky sour and chocolate cake. Ask a taxi driver to take you through the Bandra-Worli sea link and admire the view. Go for a nightcap at Café Mondegar in Colaba and keep an eye out for the jukebox and its wacky interiors.
On your last day, make a list and tick everything off as fast as you can. Sip on chocolate shake at Bachelorr’s before spending long hours at Aer, a rooftop bar in Worli. Strictly sip on a drink or two there and save room for a local meal at Bade Miyan. Pay a customary visit to K.Rustom Ice Cream in Churchgate for their unique sandwich ice-cream offerings and prepare to get your hands messy. Other notable mentions include paani puri at Chowpatty, unbelievable South Indian cuisine at Madras Café, shady bar vibes at Sunlight, a space odyssey at Nehru Planetarium and neon lights with a free-spirited ambiance at The Ghetto, Breach Candy.
Tickets from Singapore to Mumbai are priced at $350 or less.