5 ways to experience Mumbai
In a dazzling country like India, Mumbai doesn't quite cut it as the country's most precious jewel. It has little of the royal grandeur of Rajasthan, the peaceful lush nature of Kerala, or the relaxed spirit of Goa. But what the city has is a soul full of intoxicating energy and rich cultural heritage. Not going to lie — at first glance, it's a hot mess — fuelled by its overwhelming population of over 18 million locals, its pulsating noise, and pollution. But if you can look past its unapproachable surface, you are bound to find raw, unadulterated beauty amongst the chaos. To enhance the entire experience, our buddies over at Didi & Co have kindly listed five things to do the next time you find yourself in Mumbai.
1. Treat yourself to a food feast
Mumbai is historically a rich and colourful mosaic of influences, reflected in its exciting and diverse food scene. What's cool is that you can sample bits of every regional cuisine without leaving the city. If you're the adventurous type, get a taste of the superb street food. The most popular chaats (snacks) include bhel puri, pani puri and vada pao. On your foodie checklist, a couple of must-haves include a South-Indian meal comprising of dosas (super-thin crepes), idlis (steamed rice cakes) and a good dose of coconut chutney, kadhi pakora (a yoghurt-based curry from Punjab), butter chicken with fluffy naans, as well as North-Indian thali (a metal-plate filled with small moreish bites).
2. Discover vintage treasures in Chor Bazaar
Exploring the antique market of Chor Bazaar is a quintessential experience. First of all, it's a one-stop destination to browse through unique decorative items and traditional soveneirs to bag home for your friends and family. You can also smell the tantalising kebabs by street vendors as it wafts through MS Ali road, while the tiny shops packed with common knick-knacks exude an irresistable old-world charm. Wander through the open air flea market and you'll find fascinating buys like retro Bollywood posters, Indian vinyl records, and exotic furniture. Word along the street is that set directors have even been seen dropping by to source for film props.
3. Ride a "Mumbai Local"
For a true cultural adventure, take a local train in Mumbai. Here's where you get to mingle with the locals and ride the pace of the city. The trains here are perfect for people watching, for there is always something to catch the eye even with its mundane beauty — whether it be women decked out in their colourful traditional saris seated in a ladies-only cabin, the smell of jasmine filling the air, or even the loud voices of vendors calling for sales. An insider tip? Head down during late mornings or afternoons so you can avoid rush hours and the sea of people. One more thing; don't forget to stand by the open door for the thrill of the entire experience.
4. Indulge in a high tea with a view
If there is one monument to see in Mumbai, it's the Taj Mahal Palace. A true architectural treat, the historic landmark hotel is worth a visit for its grand staircase, old colonial charm of its interiors, and last but not least, a cup of chai. On the first floor, The Sea Lounge boasts a fab view over the Gateway of India. In this cosy cocoon lulled by the piano, you'll be served a selection of both British and Indian delicacies as well as an extensive range of top-notch teas and coffees. Be sure to ask for a window seat so you can gaze at the enchanting ballet of the boats in the golden light.
5. Take an Art Deco tour
Mumbai is the second city in the world touted for its Art Deco architecture. Explore this lesser-known side of the city by walking around Colaba, Fort, and Marine Drive, which is located in South Mumbai. Look up and admire a series of pretty pastel-coloured and geometric-shaped buildings, reminiscent of Miami. Don't miss out on the old cinemas — namely Eros, Liberty and Regal — where you can even catch a Bollywood flick for a true Mumbai experience.
Heading somewhere soon? Visit Didi & Co today.