One Day in Mumbai. Your Quick & Local Travel Guide!
Mumbai, the city of dreams, a place where dreams turn into reality and air-dust turns into the matter; so, here’s your guide for one day in Mumbai. The city has a lot to offer to its citizen, popularly called Mumbaikars and over 2 million tourists from across the globe. The city offers many experiences, from finger-licking food to divine intimacy with the Almighty, from amazing skyscrapers to the largest slum in the world, and from no historic places to making a thousand memories in just a single day. This is Mumbai, a city that cannot mesmerize you by its look and feel; instead, you mesmerize the city.
In this piece, I shall be giving you a full schedule of a single day trip in the most exotic and luxurious part of Mumbai, the old and classic South Mumbai. First, let’s answer some commonly asked questions.
What is South Mumbai?
South Mumbai is the downtown of Mumbai which lies in the southern direction. Ranging from Colaba, Cuff Parade and Malabar Hills in the downtown to Sion, Matunga and Vadala in the suburbs. In short, SoBo (South Bombay) are the areas of Mumbai where there is no autorickshaw service.
Why South Mumbai?
Well, there is no specific answer to “why.” Maybe because that’s the place where it all started: the city, business, growth and ‘feeling.’ And, that’s the place where I feel like I’m in Mumbai. It’s pure, genuine and nobody cares about the way one should act. In simpler words, no one pretends, people are comfortable in their skin, be it a billionaire or a tea vendor, everyone holds pride in their work and care about others.
What’s so special about South Mumbai?
South Mumbai is authentic, rustic, and inhabits the class and originality of the monuments and landmarks built by the British and Portuguese.
So, here’s my plan for one day in the most expensive part of Mumbai at the most minimal cost. The flow is mentioned below:
Reach Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly known as Victoria Terminus) at 9 o’clock in the morning. The rush would be high, people who are scattering, rushing through the crowd to reach to their work or studies. This is “Every other day in Mumbai”. So, be patient and enjoy the rush.
The beauty of this rush is that everyone is so used to this struggle that it has become a routine now; when the rush is lower than expected, then realize that something is really fishy. People, rather Mumbaikars are so used to being shovelled in the crowd that now no one speaks a word of disrespect, because everyone has been through the same stage and acknowledge the hardship and willingness it requires to do the same. Experience the heat in the heart of Mumbai’s and Indian Railways’ Western + Central Headquarters.
Walk out of the station and reach the bus stop. From there board any of the three BEST (Mumbai’s public bus service): 101, 103 or 108. And ask the conductor for a ticket to Malabar Hills/Kamala Nehru Park.
Travel time to reach Kamala Nehru Park from Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is approximately one hour by bus and about 45 minutes via taxi. My personal suggestion, take the bus, it’s cheap, shall cost you 1/3rd of the taxi fare plus you get to experience the transportation of the locals.
The famous, Hanging Gardens of Mumbai have been renamed, Kamala Nehru Park. This identity change happened over a decade ago. However, there is a peculiar syndrome with us Mumbaikars, we want to see the change. In fact, sometimes we want to be the change. But we never appreciate change and like to keep things as they are for as long as we can. Hence, Kamala Nehru Park might be famous only due to the inclusion of the name in Mumbai Mirror’s Chai-Time Crossword, while referring to this tourist spot in the Malabar Hills, it is still summoned The Hanging Gardens of Mumbai.
Kamala Nehru Park is a part of the Pherozshah Mehta Gardens which consists of Kamala Nehru Park, other parts of The Hanging Gardens and the Boot House. Originally built in 1881, this masterpiece was designed by Ulhas Ghakopar and has been renovated quite a few times with alterations to the existing attractions in the park and adding a few elements from time to time.
Relax while sitting on the lush green meadows. Explore the 4 acres of garden, click some amazing images and leave for your next destination, which is across the street: The Boot House.
After a relaxing morning on the lawns of Hanging Gardens, cross the street and visit Boot House.
A simple park with a gigantic shoe thru which the garden gets its name. The design is inspired by the nursery rhyme, “There was an old woman.” The northern railing of the park has a scenic view of the Marine Drive, Chowpatty and Nariman Point; in short, the Queen’s Necklace. Since you would be standing tall and broad at the railing in the daylight; you shall be seeing the rubies instead of pearls and gold.
Click some amazing pictures, with Mumbai’s favourite spot in the background. Lurk around and discover some of the seasonal flowers which bloom at the Kamala Nehru Park and leave. To be honest, the sight is marvellous, but, there isn’t anything more to do other than clicking photos.
Once you have exited, have some light snacks from the street vendors who hawk their carts right outside the gates of Hanging Gardens as well as Boot House. Why street food? Well, it’s Chatpatti Sev Puri and Teekha Vada Pav that makes Mumbai one of the best cities in the country.
Once you are through with snacks, board the bus numbered 108 and ask the conductor for a ticket to Taraporewala Aquarium.
The bus ride shall be around 30 minutes from Kamala Nehru Park to Taraporewala Aquarium. Buy tickets from the ticket counter and enter the amazing world of fishes and aquatic life found in Mumbai and the world. Although the collection is limited, the aquarium offers some of the most exclusive and native marine life animals which are limited to the Indian waters.
Enjoy a healthy stroll around the aquatic life on the soil in air conditioning and ease off the tiredness caused by the hot sun. Refill your energy naturally with cool air in the presence of mesmerizing creatures for about an hour or so.
Exit the aquarium at about noon and take a bus (123/133)/cab to Colaba.
The bus ride from Taraporewala Aquarium to Colaba is about 30 minutes plus the traffic. As soon as you have arrived at your destination, have a healthy lunch at one of the many restaurants near Regal Cinema. Here is a list of restaurants:
- Café Mondegar
- Leopold Café
- All Stir Fry
- Delhi Durbar
- Café Royale
- Bombay Vintage
These are some of the restaurants which are popular around the Regal Cinema. A healthy meal for 2 at any of these restaurants shall cost approximately INR 1,500; except McDonald’s which shall cost around INR 300 for 2.
Immediately post-lunch, take a walk across the street for about 100 meters towards Fort. The next stop is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya a.k.a. Prince of Wales Museum.
The new name of the Prince of Wales Museum is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. As I mentioned earlier, we, Mumbaikars do not wish to adjust to the changing names. So, we still refer to it, Prince of Wales Museum. It has a number of artefacts from the various eras of Mumbai, or Bombay. Right from the time when Bombay was a group of seven islands and it was under the Portuguese rule to inclusion in the dowry of King John IV’s daughter when she was wed to Charles II of England, hence on 11 May 1661, Bombay became an important trade port to the British East India Company.
The artefacts include fossils, jewellery, gold coins, luxuries and other pieces of relevant importance. The relics are preserved with tender care; depicting the history of this mighty city for over 4 centuries now. Mumbai has a great history, it might not be rich as other Indian cities, but, it’s a place where the city does not mesmerize you, instead, you mesmerize the city.
However, the showstopper is a 15-minute short film on the History of Mumbai/Bombay depicting various incidents of sheer importance which have influenced the city and its people.
Stroll in the corridors of the museum for about two hours; then take a 10-minutes walk to the majestic Gateway of India.
The mighty monument on the coast of the Arabian Sea is a popular tourist destination. The iconic structure was built in the early 1900s to welcome the arrival of King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary at Apollo Bunder.
Gateway of India has always been the identification of Mumbai city, along with Taj Mahal Hotel (adjacent to Gateway of India) and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Gateway of India offers a horizon view of the Arabian Sea; where the cool breeze blows along the warm waters. These winds have a mighty potential to ease all the stress and mesmerize the mind with their calm and soothing nature.
Toil around the deck at Apollo Bunder while clicking some photos.
Gateway of India offers a ferry ride which is for about 30minute in the Arabian Sea, touring the waters and allowing the breeze to brush through your hair.
The ferry ride remains closed during the months of the monsoon. Just something to keep in mind.
After spending about an hour at the Gateway of India, stroll towards Colaba Causeway. Either use Google Maps for directions or ask any local pupil, people are very helpful in Mumbai.
Walking back to Colaba, the Causeway offers you the most important thing about Mumbai. A collection of eccentric fashion from the streets at bargain-able prices.
The world is a contradictory place and so is Colaba Causeway. Ranging from brands like U.S. Polo Assn., AAA and Attic on one side of the street to roadside “fashion vendors” on the other side. This is Mumbai’s charm; offering everything to everyone. Shop fashion and clothing accessories from the most convenient collection at the most reasonable prices. Although bargaining is not encouraged, yet it’s allowed.
Once, shopping is finished, carry all your belongings and hire a cab to Chowpatty.
“Bambai aaye aur Chowpatty na gaye, toh kya hi Bambai aaye!” For our English readers, here’s the translation: If you have one day in Mumbai and you don’t kick the sand on the beach, did you even go to Mumbai?
Beach, wind, children running here and there and the all-time classic, Pav Bhaji.
Mumbai has several beach fronts like Juhu, Santacruz, Aksa, Gorai and Girgaum. Yet, the most visited are Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty. And, one you shall be visiting the latter.
There are various activities for kids to perform like building a sandcastle, motorbike ride, the swinging ship, and “touching feet in the water.” So, sit on the rented mat (INR 20), contemplate the bargains you have just done in order to buy an energetic piece of fashion, which you may never get tired of. Neither from donning the fashion nor showing it off with the price tags.
There are ample food vendors offering some of the most local dishes to Mumbai; Pav Bhaji, Sev Puri and Bhel are to name a few. Nom on the snacks heavily, as these are Mumbaikar’s dinner favourites. At around 8 PM take a cab to Marine Drive from the other side of the street.
Marine Drive is Mumbaikar’s local date place, where couples sit hand-in-hand resting their heads on each other’s shoulders and look far into the sea making their dream list. Everyone has one “Marine Drive Wish List”. A list which is prepared whilst couching on the sea face with a smile; everyone has one; both the smile and the list.
At Marine Drive, tens of thousands of couples have made plans and dreamt about their future together; whilst only some dreams are accomplished, the rest are either work-in-progress or dreaming new fantasies with someone else. But, no one stops dreaming. Sit on the sea face for another half an hour, and then take a cab along with your belongings to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
It has been a long day in Mumbai, yet, the isn’t over. Why not? Well, Mumbai is the city that never sleeps. It’s 9:30 P.M. and the pubs are opening their doors. You have two options, either go home/hotel room and relax or go to a pub/resto-bar and gulp down a few drinks. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
As it’s Mumbai, there is no need to follow a route. You only have one day in Mumbai Make your own and let us know about your experiences in the comments below.