This article first appeared in Shadows Galore
South Mumbai or South Bombay, as it is now called, offers a fascinating insight into the colonial past of the Mumbai. With British era Buildings, Promenades and Colonial landmarks, this side of Mumbai stands in stark contrast to the Northern suburbs. This district contains the oldest and the newest areas of Mumbai, the original Bombay on which Fort St George was established and the Nariman Point which was reclaimed from the seas early as the 1970s. This downtown of Mumbai happens to be the economic powerhouse of India and many bigwig Corporate Offices are located here.
Reach and Go Around
Mumbai as the prime Metropolitan city of India has an excellent connectivity with all parts of the world and the country. The Mumbai Airport is one of the busiest in the country and all the major International and Domestic airlines operating from here. The main railway stations are the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Dadar Railway Station and Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. One can go around in the city by either the Local trains, or by using BEST Metropolitan buses, metered taxis and auto rickshaws.
Mumbai hotels offer all ranges of places for travelers to stay, from budget bed and breakfast accommodations to majestic five star hotels one can find the place of their choice in this city. Some of the famous hotels in Mumbai are located in the Southern Districts. It is always advisable to book in advance and outstation visitors can book the hotels online using portals which offers hotels in Mumbai.
Places of interest/ Things to do
Gateway of India
Built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Elizabeth, the Gateway of India is an iconic monument of Mumbai. Gateway of India was the place from where the last British ship set sail for England, writing the epitaph of the British Empire. Located at the waterfront on the Apollo Bandar, this 26 mts high Basalt arch overlooks the Arabian sea, as if welcoming the world to Mumbai. Best time to visit is during the evenings when the area is abuzz with people.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
The Taj, needs no introduction. Standing proud next to the Gateway of India, this 5-star luxury hotel built by Jamshedji Tata is as much an identity of Mumbai as the Gateway of India itself. Designed in Indo-Saracenic style, this legendary monument boasts of quite a few firsts in India, like the first steam lift, electric fans made in America and Turkish baths, not to forget – English butlers working for Indian masters!
Flora Fountain (now known as the Hutatma Chowk) is an exquisitely sculptured fountain located at the Southern end of Dadabhai Naoroji Road in the Fort area of South Mumbai. Built in 1864 and dedicated to the Roman Goddess Flora, this monument stands at the point where five Historic streets meet and was once a testimony of the colonial grandeur of the British Empire.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, is a historic railway station. Designed by Frederick William Stevens and built in a Gothic style, this beautiful building was built to commemorate the Golden Jubliee of Queen Victoria in 1887.
According to Wikipedia, “The building exhibits a fusion of influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Indian architecture. The skyline, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. Externally, the wood carving, tiles, ornamental iron and brass railings, grills for the ticket offices, the balustrades for the grand staircases and other ornaments were the work of students at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art. The stone arches are covered with carved foliage and grotesques. The station stands as an example of 19th century railway architectural marvels for its advanced structural and technical solutions.”
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is accorded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum)
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India is the main museum in Mumbai. Built in 1915, this museum houses more than 5o000 exhibits from across the world in its Art, Archaeology and Natural History sections. This stone monument is built in Indo-Saracenic styles and incorporates the architecture of West as well as the Hindu and Islamic styles of India. Timings: Tuesday – Sunday 10:15 AM – 5:45 PM.
Jehangir Art Gallery
Founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir in 1952, the Jehangir Art Gallery is located in Kala Ghoda near the Gateway of India. Related to the renaissance of Indian art, this institution has helped establish a platform and for the works of innumerable artists, an identity for their patrons and has brought art to the masses. One can find the best from the Indian artists in its galleries. The gallery is Open daily from 11AM to 7PM. Entry is free.
J.N. Petit Library
Housed in a beautiful building dating back to late 1800s, J.N. Petit Library is a heritage library located in the Fort area of South Mumbai. This massive library is home to more than 150,000 books which include some rare gems like an 11th century copy of Firdausi, Shahnama and many other collections from 16th and 17th centuries. As one goes up the winding stairs, the spacious and airy reading room greet the visitors with their period furniture and the musky aroma of paper which only the bibilophiles can appreciate.
Marine drive is a C shaped boulevard, 4.3 km long, which connects Nariman Point to the Malabar Hill. Claimed from the Arabian Sea, this pathway is famous for its beautiful promenade and Parsi buildings with exquisiteness art decor, reminiscent of the colonial era. This road is also knows as Queen’s Necklace, as it looks pearl studded when seen from a height during the night. Marine Drive is one of the most posh localities in India and house to a lot of celebrities. Best time to visit is during the evening to get a whiff of fresh air and see the sun set in the Arabian sea.
Located at the Southern End of the Marine Drive, Nariman Point is one of the Premiere Business areas of Mumbai and houses big Corporate Houses and 5 Star Hotels. Among the most famous are the Air India Building and the Hilton Hotel.
Cuff Parade is one of the high end areas of Mumbai. This area houses the President’s Hotel and the Mumbai World Trade Center.
South Mumbai has a many places of religious importance to interest people from every religion. Some of the important ones are the Afghan Church, Mumbadevi Temple, St. Thomas Cathedral, Kenesseth Ellyahoo Synagogue, Agiary and Hazi Ali.
Places to Shop
The crowded and chaotic Crawford Market has quite a few surprises up its sleeves and is home to some of the really interesting items, including antiques available for very cheap. However, one needs to look around a bit in order to find the diamond from the coal.
Fashion Street, as the name suggests is a fashion accessories market located near CST. It has become the favorite shopping place of the college youngsters who want to make a style statement without spending a lot of money. Be prepared to bargain hard though.
Places to Eat
Located at Cusrow Baug, Colaba Causeway, Aga Brothers are famous for their heavenly Frankie, available in chicken, mutton and egg stuffing, along with the mango or kalakhatta cool drinks. An interesting place for enjoing food in Mumbai style.
Cafe Leoplold is a famous cafe located in Colaba and is loved by tourists, expats and locals alike. A great place to have an intellectual discussion over drinks. The cafe is back in action after the post 26/11 restoration. A must visit if you are in Mumbai.
Kelkar Vishranti Gruha
Kelkar Vishranti Gruha is perhaps the oldest restaurant in Mumbai which serves Marathi food. The food is delicious, different, and worth trying out; specially if you haven’t had much of Marathi food.
Mahesh Lunch Home
Mahesh Lunch Home is famous for its heavenly seafood. Located near Kala Ghoda, this popular joint has been attracting sea food lovers since 1977. A must visit if you have an “aquatic” taste.