I’m an East Indian from Mumbai, or Bombay as we still like to call it. Bombay from the Portuguese meant ‘good bay’ or Mumbai from the Goddess ‘Mumba’. Of course we’ve had a lot of names over the centuries – Boon Bay, Bombain, Mombayn, Bombaym, Monbaym, Mombaym, Bombay, Mombaim, Bambaye, Bombeye, Bombaiim, and more; and now Maha Amba, Mumba and Mumbai.
Mumbai is a melting pot of culture; full of history, yet modern and bustling too. There’s so much to see and do here in Mumbai (you can read about that in the other post) and so many different foods to taste, you’ll love experiencing the city and its blend of cultures.
We often get asked many questions about living and traveling in Mumbai. So here are a few answers to help you!
What do you love about this city? What makes it special to you?
What I love about Mumbai is that it’s a cosmopolitan mixture of different cultures and people. You could meet anyone from anywhere here. And yet, it is so steeped in tradition and culture that we can still call it home. It’s a melting pot of past and present, of food and drink, of history and culture.
If a traveler only had 24 hours in the city, what are some places you’d tell them they absolutely can’t miss?
In just 24 hours, you won’t have much time, but you must visit the Gateway of India, shop and eat at Colaba Causeway and walk along Marine Drive. If you really rush around, you can also visit the Mount Mary’s Church, Haji Ali Mosque and the Mahalaxmi Temple. Take pictures of the Worli Sea Link, and eat snacks at Juhu Chowpatty to end the evening.
If you have one more day, in South Bombay you could also visit the Nehru Planetarium, the Nehru Science Centre, The Prince of Wales Museum and Taraporewala Aquarium. And if you can travel further, go to Dharavi of Slumdog Millionaire fame, and Dhobighat, the largest open air laundry.
What’s an off-the-beaten-path thing to do that wouldn’t be found in a typical guidebook?
Gilbert’s Hill. It’s not in the guidebooks of things to do in Mumbai. It’s a simple unassuming almost shamble-of-a-rock that on most days is cordoned off. But some days you’re allowed to climb the narrow stairs to the top where there is the Gaodevi Durgamata Temple.
Gilbert Hill is one of the last basalt rocks from the Mesozoic era. The only other similar rocks on the planet are the Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming and the Devil’s Postpile National Monument in California. Of course, the opposing viewpoint is that it’s just a rock surrounded by slums and shambles. So deciding whether to visit is up to you.
What do you recommend to visitors looking for something a little different?
If you have more than a few days after sightseeing in Mumbai, visit the old forts. You can also do short hikes to Bassein Fort, Vasai Fort, Sion fort or Mahim Fort. Or take a boat ride to visit Elephanta Caves or hike through Sanjay Gandhi National Park to the Kanheri Caves.
Is there any food, dish, or cuisine that you MUST try when you’re in Mumbai? Where’s the best place to try it?
Lassi! A sweet heaven made of cardamom-flavored yogurt. The best plain or mango-flavored lassi I’ve had to date is from M M Mithaiwala just outside Malad railway station. Also try the Falooda from Badshah’s near Crawford Market, the pani puri from Elco Pani Puri Centre, the halal kebabs at Bademiyan, the masala dosas anywhere on the street, they’re all yummy!
Also try the local version of the toast sandwich at any of the street stalls in India. It’s in a world of its own! Chai, samosas and vada pavs from the street stalls; sea food at Mahesh Lunch Home, breakfast at Leopold Cafe of Shantaram fame; anda bhurji at street stalls, ragda pattice or bhel puri from just anywhere, and so much more… Go here for a list of iconic foodie places to visit in Mumbai.
What are the most photo-worthy or Instagrammable spots in Mumbai?
The sunsets at Bandra Bandstand or Marve Beach are perfect for Instagram. But they’re crowded too. You could also get good Instagrammable pics of CST Terminus, Taj Hotel, Elephanta Caves, Marine Drive, or at the many Indian street food stalls across the city. There are so many!
What tips do you have for travelers looking to avoid the crowds? What should visitors know about transportation around the city?
This is Mumbai. It’s impossible to avoid the crowds. But you could travel at odd hours to avoid the throngs at the train station or the traffic jams on the road. Avoid train travelling between 8 and 10 am and also between 5 and 8 pm. After the peak office hours are done, it’s a bit easier. But you still have to scramble to get into a train. Be careful of pickpockets though. They’re everywhere!
While visiting monuments be prepared to wait some time, as Mumbai is not just popular with foreign nationals, but with people from other parts of India too. Some of the historical attractions have different lines for international tourists, so take advantage of that when you can.
There are a lot of people saying they offer you free guide services in a ploy to get you to pay them at the end. Avoid these people and use an official guide or a good online guide for Mumbai if you need to.
Anything else to keep in mind while visiting Mumbai or Bombay?
Bombay is a beautiful city. Whether you spend a day or ten here exploring the culture and history, or whether you spend your time discovering the nightlife and food scenes; you’ll find something that catches your breath and stays in your heart. Follow your instincts and you’ll have the best time getting lost in this vibrant city.
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- Visiting the land of Kipling’s Jungle Book
- Where to eat in Bir Billing
- Tiger safari
- How to build an igloo
I’m an East Indian foodie and travel blogger from Bombay, India. I’ve travelled across parts of Europe and Asia, and love writing about my experiences with people and cultures. And naturally, I love food, wine, and travel, and have an endless bucket list of places to go to, and experiences I must blog about.
I also love baking and experimenting with food, with a little help from my family. If you must know, my favorite things are nice rainy days, the smell of cakes in the oven, playing in the snow, glasses of wine, and dark chocolate.
More info about me here!