Aamchi Mumbai! Welcome to the City of Dreams!

“I live on a wedge of land

reclaimed from a tired ocean

somewhere at the edge of the universe”


– From the poem, Where I Live by Arundhati Subramaniam

To call Mumbai (Bombay!) an emotion may seem cliched, but for the millions who call this city home, it is an axiomatic truth. One may love it or hate it; one may live here life-long or leave Mumbai, and settle elsewhere, as I have, but the city itself settles inside you. It gets in your veins, and weaves itself into your memories.

It is an attitude, a way of life and a mindset.

Mumbai Skyline
Attribution: Cididity Hat [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

The story of how seven Koli villages came together and became a world renowned megacity, a financial and cultural hub, and the most populous city in India, is a marvelous tale indeed and a long story, that is best summarized thus,

“Though the shrewd entrepreneurs of the East India Company had been the first to see the potential of the largest deepwater harbour on India’s west coast, Bombay is essentially a product of the nineteenth century, when the British built a national railway network around it and shipbuilders developed its position as India’s chief post and link to the world. Bombay has long been a fragrant souvenir of the shotgun marriage of mercantile greed and imperial dreams.”

– From Bombay: Hobson-Jobson on the Streets by Pico Iyer

Because of its history however, Mumbai has long had the advantage of being the city of dreams –where people, from across India, and across the world, even, arrive hoping for success and better lives.

It is New York and Los Angeles and Hollywood, all squeezed together into one city. No wonder then, that Mumbai doesn’t disappoint! Here’s a list of experiences that Mumbai offers to its residents and travellers alike:

i. Downtown Mumbai, that the locals refer to as “town” or “fort” is the Mumbai that is known best to the tourists. It is here that the past is ever present, in the form of its Victorian and Art Deco buildings.
From VT station (CST now) to the Gateway of India, from the iconic steps of the Asiatic Library to the Rajabai Tower, the architecture in this area is a pleasure to explore.

Gateway of Mumbai
Attribution: By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons ยท WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4796614
The iconic Taj Hotel as viewed from a side street
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish

ii. Mumbai has a long seashore. Unfortunately the beaches themselves, at Juhu or Chowpatty are a bit of a disappointment, as they are not the typical swimming/bathing beaches. They are an experience in themselves, however, and worth a cursory visit. A stroll along Marine Drive, where one can see the magnificent “Queen’s Necklace”, or along Bandra Bandstand is a better choice.

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link as viewed from Bandra Bandstand
Attribution: By Ashwin Kumar from Bangalore, India – Bandstand Bandra, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50061591

iii. Needless to say the opportunities for shopping in Mumbai are amazing. There are of course, outlets for international brands and renowned designers, but the real joy is in shopping on the streets. Be it Colaba Causeway or Linking Road, Chor Bazaar or Zaveri Bazaar, one can score some great steals at the many local markets!

Colourful bangles being sold at a shop in Colaba Causeway
Attribution: By https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghoseb/https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghoseb/2974364841/in/set-72157608384876978/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5404697

iv. One can sample any kind of cuisine in Mumbai. From paella to pasta, international cusine does have a presence here. However, Mumbai runs on street food! Grab a vada-pav or a chaat, and eat like a local! Eat some berry pulao and custard at Brittannia, famous for its Parsi delicacies. Scout the many restaurants that serve traditional Maharashtrian fare, especially in the Dadar-Shivaji Park area. I especially recommend Aaswad. Do not miss their kothimbir wadi!  If it is South Indian food you crave, then head on over to the Matunga- King’s Circle area. Or experience the multiculturality of the city through the fusion food that can be found everywhere!

Bhel Puri!
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish
Egg Malpuas being fried on Mohd. Ali Road on the eve of Eid.
Attribution: PrashuKalyan [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

v. Ride a Mumbai local! While I wouldn’t recommend taking a train during peak hours, on a sedate weekday afternoon, one can get the “local train” experience minus the death-defying stunts. Or take a double decker bus. Or a kali-peeli taxi. Or ride the Mumbai Metro or the monorail!

View of a station from the window of a Mumbai Local
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish
A kaali-peeli taxi on the road
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish

vi. Party the night away! Mumbai has indisputably, some of the best nightlife in India. Go to a club and party. Or catch a late night show of a movie.

vii. Mumbai is the home of Bollywood. From Amitabh Bacchan’s Jalsa to Shahrukh Khan’s Mannat, there are plenty of places and opportunities to feel starstruck! A glance at any tourism website will provide links to a plethora of Bollywood studio tours. Choose what fits your pocket the best ๐Ÿ™‚

viii. If you need to take a break from all the fun and frolic, and feed your spiritual side, then visit the famous Siddhivinayak or Mahalakshmi temples. Or the Haji Ali dargah. Or the Mount Mary church. Whatever your faith, Mumbai has a place for you to pray. Or travel to nearby places of pilgrimage, like Shirdi or Pandharpur, all easily accessible from Mumbai.

Siddhivinayak Temple
Attribution: Darwininan [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Haji Ali Dargah
Attribution: Humayunn Peerzaada AKA HumFur from Mumbai, India [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

viii. When you get tired of the madness of the city, spend some time at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, in the lap of nature. Maybe you’ll spot a leopard! While you are there do check out the 2400 year old Kanheri caves. Or escape to the Elephanta island,or Alibag, over the sea. If it is the hills you seek, then Lonavala or Khandala are close by too! In fact, travel a little further and go see beautiful Pune as well. Or travel to Goa!

Kanheri Caves
Attribution: By Patrice78500 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25349913

ix. There are a number of museums and galleries in Mumbai worth visiting. The Prince of Wales Museum, now rechristened as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, is one of India’s best. Close by is the Jehangir Art Gallery, and while there do not forget to check out their amazing cafe, Samovar too! Catch a play at the iconic Prithvi theatre. Check out the Discovery of India exposition or be awed by the magnificence of our Universe at the Nehru Planetarium.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Attribution: By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3055058
Nehru Planetarium
Attribution: No machine-readable author provided. Aam422~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

x. Any discussion of Mumbai is incomplete without referring to the ten day Ganpati celebration. The fanfare surrounding this festival must not be missed! Same goes for the awe-inspiring dahi handi celebrations during Gokulashtami. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, which is the countryโ€™s largest multicultural festival, takes place in February each year. From the Tata Literature Live! to the Gateway Lit Fest, there are multiple opportunities for lovers of the written word to celebrate it. Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride March also called Queer Azaadi March and Mumbai pride march, is a LGBTQIH pride parade, that is held in Mumbai every year. From street festivals that celebrate a particular locality, to city-wide events, there is always something happening in Mumbai!

Lalbaugcha Raja
Attribution: Yann [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

To be honest, it is impossible to capture Mumbai in a single blog post. No matter what your interests, Mumbai has something for everyone. The city and the experiences it offers are so vast, that they cannot be condensed effectively. I have made an attempt though. Hopefully, it is enough to make you want to experience the magic for yourself.

Until you can come to Mumbai in person though, you can always read about it in books like Bombay Meri Jaan edited by Jerry Pinto and Naresh Fernandes; Maximum City by Suketu Mehta; Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra; Dangerlok by Eunice D’Souza; Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets by Shilpa Phadke; or Baumgartner’s Bombay by Anita Desai.

Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish

Or watch movies in which Mumbai is so key to the plot, that it is a character, such as, Kaala (2018); The Lunchbox (2013); Satya (1998); Ek Chalis Ki Last Local (2007) or Salaam Bombay (1988).

Sing along to Bambai se aaya mera dost, or Ae dil hai mushkil, jeena yahaan.

Few cities are so celebrated in art and culture. Mumbai and its many mysteries are deserving of it.

Verse

“Puri bhaji, bhelpuri you can try and tell

Idli dosa, hot samosa you will like it well

Once you come to stay then you won’t like to go away

Come to Bombay, come to Bombay

Bombay meri hai.”

Verse from the song Bombay Meri Hai, a favourite at Christian and Parsi wedding celebrations, with music by Mina Kava and lyrics by Naju Kava.
Roof inside CST station
Photo by Vijayalakhsmi Harish
Inside CST station
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish
Stained Glass above Entrance of CST Station
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Harish

I started this post with an excerpt from a poem about Mumbai by Arundhati Subramaniam. I leave you with a poem of my own, about this shining, brilliant city, that straddles the ages.

Visions

Majestic old moss covered lion
standing guard over the locus of a pagan soul
and hedonistic bloodhounds ready to pounce
their muscles stretched in anticipation of  feasting

An ancient timekeeper drips eternity in pearly drops
over and above the city of omniscienceโ€ฆ
chalky faces embedded in the century old walls
I wonder about their cloaked, clandestine lives

The lady in white lost in peaceful contemplation
demure head ensconced within her flowery crown
presiding goddess over a temple of busy-ness
devotees scurrying beneath her perennial sight

– Vijayalakshmi Harish
20/08/06

Flora Fountain
Attribution: By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons ยท WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48099120

Mumbai was today’s stop on the #XploreBharat Blog train. Yesterday we visited Ganpatipule, with Preeti. And tomorrow, onwards to majestic Mysuru, with Jayanti Manikandan.

About #XploreBharat Blog train

#XploreBharat, #IncredibleIndia, #BlogBoosterIND, #Machilipatnam #Travelogue #Andhrapradesh https://shravmusings.com/2019/02/xplorebharat-reaches-machilipatnam-oldest-natural-harbour-in-andhra/

This is a Blog train hosted by,  AditiEshaMaheshwaranPreetiSabaPragunSanjotaSoniaSudip,  Suhasini, and Supriya

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54 thoughts on “Aamchi Mumbai! Welcome to the City of Dreams!

  1. Wonderful post. Simply lovely. One of the best in the #XploreBharat series I have come across till now. Your poem captures the essence beautifully. And the 2400-year-old Kanheri caves and the Bandra_worli seal link I really really do want to see. I have been to Bombay only once nearly 25 years back and that too for just a day. It is one of the places I really want to spend a month at and explore properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jayakumar!
      Yes, there is enough to see and do in and around Mumbai to keep you busy for a month! Do try to make it during the Ganesh Chathurthi festival if you do make plans. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Like

  2. Vijaylakshmi, such a lovely post on amchi Mumbai. I must say you have poured your heart in it. Lovely pics and personalized touch are simply awesome. The notepad and book stole my heart. The poet in you is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, PraGun! So glad you enjoyed the post! The notebook is a favourite of mine too ๐Ÿ˜Š
      And thank you again for getting me involved with this blog train and for giving me the opportunity to write about Mumbai ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Like

    1. Thank you Esha! Yes, Mumbai has so much more than what I have been able to cover! And I must clarify that not all the photos are mine own. Most are from Wikimedia Commons and have been duly credited.

      Like

  3. OMG, the blog name and the post are in opposite direction! You made so much home work and say yourself lazywriter?
    That was a encyclopedia of Mumbai. For me Mumbai is incomplete without the Vada pav and Bhel puris!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Great Post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Maheshwaran ๐Ÿ˜Š Yes, just thinking of Mumbai is enough to make me crave all that wonderful food!
      And I call myself the lazy writer, because I rarely post. Really lazy in that way ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Like

    1. Thank you, Manas! Glad you enjoyed reading it! Most clicks aren’t mine own. So I hope that the some you are referring to are the ones that I have clicked ๐Ÿ˜œ

      Like

  4. When my mum was pursuing her Ph.D in economics, we used to visit Mumbai every year, while she used to study at the library me, my brother and dad used to roam around the city the whole day. I have many fond memories of the city, thanks for refreshing them all. and I must say you are a wonderful photographer, you have captured the pictures so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you were able to relive some good times, via my post! ๐Ÿ˜€
      As for the pictures, most of them are from Wikimedia Commons. Though a few are mine own.

      Like

  5. This deserves to be on the page of Discovery India. I was in Mumbai this November on a three day trip and I only wish that you had written this piece before I visited Maximus city. I shared this with my husband and now most of his friends who have stayed or are still in the city feel that this piece is simply brilliant. Salute to you Vijaya. You inspire me every single time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Sonia! I am equally inspired by you! I am extremely happy to know that your Mumbaikar friends connect to this post ๐Ÿ˜Š
      Do make a visit to Mumbai again soon!

      Like

  6. What a post Vijayalakshmi!!! U have painted a picture of Mumbai as I had never seen before. I have been living in Mumbai and visited many places which have been mentioned in your post but the touch you have given to all of them has compelled me to see them in a new light. Brilliant… Truly Brilliant post. Ur post is one of the best I have read so far. Thank you for making it such a lovely read.
    #readbypreetispanorama

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have read so many wonderful posts in this blog series, Preeti, including your own. So when you say that this is one of the best, it truly means a lot โค๏ธ
      I had read an interesting piece by one of my writer friends, Dr Shivani Salil, recently, about living like a tourist. We often get so caught up in day to day life, that we start to take the place we live in for granted. Way better to live like a tourist then, even in one’s own city, viewing everything with a sense of openness and wonder ๐Ÿ˜Š Here is the piece, if you would like to read it: http://www.thewonderwomenworld.com/?p=3510

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a beautiful thought indeed. Your writer friend has said well. Human nature is such that we start taking things for granted. What a new perspective you have shown me…to live like a tourist. Thank you for the link. A beautiful article that was. It is so nice to know new writers and blogs.

        Like

  7. It’s hard to capture the essence and spirit of Mumbai in words but you have done a brilliant job at it. I realized there are so many things I am yet to do in Mumbai and shall plan a trip soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Prerna! True, I keep thinking of the places I haven’t even mentioned here! Do make a trip to Mumbai soon ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Like

  8. One of the best posts in this series, I have come across. Been to the city of dreams 10 years back just for two days so could not explore it much. The stunning pics and vivid description of your blog surely made me crave to go there and explore it at leisure. Love the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Vartika! Means a lot that you think my post is among the best ๐Ÿ˜Š
      I do hope you get the chance to explore Mumbai again soon โค๏ธ Glad you liked the poem ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

  9. No other place can beat Aamchi Mumbai. The food, the culture, the struggle everything is just close to my heart. No other city I can breathe in that easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This has to be my favorite post from all the ones Iโ€™ve read so far. No, not because I am a Bombay girl ๐Ÿ™‚ but because youโ€™ve managed to capture all important aspects of Maximum city in one single post! Love it, enjoyed reading it and thank you for a trip around my favorite place in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You have beautifully captured the essence of Mumbai. I am a Mumbaikar for 12 yrs and so proud of my adopted city. Though we curse about its traffic we shouldn’t forget the abundance it provides. Town area is my fav as I am sure it’s the case with all Mumbaikars. Loved the brilliant photography too the one with Taj Mahal is so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anshu! Yes, as with all megacities, Mumbai has its issues. But it does have a charm of it’s own. โ˜บ๏ธ

      Like

  12. I was just waiting for a post about Mumbai in #Xplorebharat train. I know that City is beautiful with many opportunities and hidden treasures but this post is written entirely from a different perspective. Indeed a great place to discover and live. I liked the architecture of the Siddi Vinayaka temple. Btw great pictures ๐Ÿ™‚
    https://hackytips.com

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The city that never sleeps, the vada pav city! the city where we depend on Local trains!!! We can never be anywhere if we are from mumbai

    Like

  14. I have goosebumps as I write this comment. Reading your post was like reliving the 2 years I spent in Maximum City. This place is called Maximum City for a reason. Because there is something for everyone here. I am kind of speechless, dont know what more to say. Just loved your post. True this city resides within you all your life.

    Like

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