Mumbai is truly a 'City of Dreams' with its glitz and glamour and the underworld. Being the home to Bollywood and the commercial capital of India, It is really hard to capture the essence of this city in words. However, here are some of the most authentic things to do in Mumbai for an unforgettable experience:
Meet the Mumbai Dabbawallas- Take a look into the work of those without whom the lunchtime in Mumbai would be unimaginable- the Dabbawallas. You can spot many in the crowded local trains and double deckers by their white uniform and Gandhi caps, working with Six Sigma efficiency. They cart around hundreds of lunch boxes daily and contribute to the city’s culinary culture this way. If you want to meet them, go to the footpath outside the Church Gate Station, which serves as their reviewing point to count thedabbasbefore taking them to their customers.
Watch a play in Prithvi Theatre- Get an insight into the Theatre culture of Mumbai that is being brewed here. This theatre has served as a launch pad to many prominent Indian actors ruling Bollywood. The plays are held here throughout the year except on Mondays. It also hosts an annual ‘Prithvi Festival’ in which several popular maestros participate to motivate and brandish the theatre culture. At present, it is run by Sanjana Kapoor (daughter of the famous actor Shashi Kapoor) who has managed to maintain the high standards of this theatre. Enjoy talking with your friends over a cup of coffee in the small cafe that is housed here.
Take a Bollywood tour- Mumbai is the home to Bollywood (Indian Film Industry) and no visit to this city is complete without experiencing the feel of being inside the premier functional studio. Get a close-in glimpse of live shooting, see the production room, understand the nitty-gritty of film-making process and get to see the technical works like dubbing, animation and editing. You can also choose to attend a live entertainment show and the movie screenings in this ‘City of Dreams’.
Tour the Dharavi Slum Area- Explore one of the world’s largest slum dwellings in Mumbai’s colourful Dharavi neighbourhood. No matter what others think about it, it is undoubtedly Mumbai’s beating heart. The residential areas here houses millions of different people and diversity is quite visible in the temples, pagodas, mosques and churches, which stand side-by-side here. Many NGOs have now come up to help the people in Dharavi by making them be a part of various small-scale industries such as pottery making, leather tanning, soap-making, papad-making, etc.
Discover the lip-smacking Mumbai Street Food- Tantalize your taste buds with some incredibly flavourful street foods in Mumbai. You can always spot many locals here stopping by the rickety carts for a glass of local cutting chai and the widely available grab-and-go snack Vada Pav (veg patty packed into a fluffy bun). You can also try visiting the food trail around the Chowpatty beach to taste Paav Bhaji, Bhelpuri, Paani poori, Bombay Duck Fry and Kebabs.
Take a stroll along Mumbai’s Marine Drive- This place beautifully reveals the glorious coastline of Mumbai. Located at a distance of 500 metres from Church Gate Station, this place is frequented by all sorts; from health-conscious joggers to romantic couples. Marvel at the beautiful view while sitting by the concrete promenade with a constant gush of waves breaking against the shore. Try coconut water or peanuts from local street vendors and watch the world pass by.
Shopping in Mumbai- The shopping experience in Mumbai is like no other place in India. Go meander along the sidewalks and explore the dilapidated buildings full of riches, which serves as the shopping spots. If you are a bargain hunter, then you can find great options in the street stalls here. Go to Linking Road in Bandra to buy Indian-style chappals, Hill road for stylish dresses, Colaba Causeway for trinkets, Crawford market for bags and the very interesting Chor Bazaar for antique and rare finds.
Take the local train for commuting- Transporting almost 7 million people per day, travelling in the lifeline of the city is truly an incredible experience. The fares are one among the cheapest in the world with commuters travelling around 120 km for as less as 30 rupees. There is a first class compartment also with cushioned seating and smaller crowds. Getting on and off from Mumbai locals is a Herculean task but it is definitely an experience worth having.
Sailing experience in Mumbai- Sailing is the best way to cherish the beautiful coastline of Mumbai. Set off from the Gateway of India and sail into the wide open waters of the Arabian Sea. Immerse yourself in the beautiful sight of the endless blue sea and the horizon peeking from far away. Choose from the sailboats or yachts to get a luxury feeling and enjoy a private sailing session.
Take an early morning cycling tour- This is probably the best way to explore the city and its hidden gems. Pass by the boundless roads and stop to photograph the regal buildings without having to jostle through the crowd. Enjoy the cool early morning weather and riding the bicycle on empty streets at a relaxed pace as you make various stops along the way to see the historic sights and local markets.
Image details and licenses: https://flic.kr/p/52Pe9Y (Steve Evans, CC BY-NC 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/2TPJAW (Anuradha Sengupta, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/HCDsof (dksesh, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/9Unye9 (M M, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/bgn2WK (Garrett Ziegler, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bombay9.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bandra_Linking_road.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MumbaiLocalTrain.jpg, https://flic.kr/p/4BBA3W (Andy Hay, CC BY 2.0), By Kirankutch [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons