Tourist Info Suggested Itineraries 1-Day Itinerary
A DAY IN MUMBAI
If you’re in Mumbai for a day, and wondering what to do,
here's a list of must-see places!
- Gateway of India
This of course, is the logical place from where to begin
your tour. After all, you're following in the footsteps of royalty!
The English King George V landed in India in 1911 at this very spot, and the
citizens of Bombay pooled money and ideas to build this grand memorial to
him. After Indian independence, the last British soldiers departed through
But the most important thing about the Gateway is not the arch at all, but
the sea beyond it. It was this deep and safe harbour that first attracted
the Portuguese, who called it "Bom Bahia" - Good Bay (that's where the
city's name comes from). The Portuguese later gave away the island to the
English as part of the dowry of the Portuguese princess Catharina Braganza.
And the English East India Company developed Bombay into a major shipping
and trading harbour.
So, you see, the city's very existence is because of this stretch of calm
- Regal Cinema Circle
Just after the Gateway is the Regal Cinema circle. Stand
at the parking lot in the centre of the circle, with the Police Headquarters
behind you and look around - the roads that lead away from this circle each
show you a unique facet of Mumbai.
- To your left, starting at the art deco Regal
Cinema, is Colaba Causeway. This road is linked to Mumbai's
physical history - it was built by the British to connect Colaba island
to Bombay, as a part of the city's expansion drive. You can still see
fisher folk if you drive further down this road towards Sassoon Docks.
Drop in at Leopold or Cafe Mondegar for beer, and wander the street
markets. Lots of neat stuff to be bought - jewellery, footwear, leather,
and gifts - but remember it takes bargaining!
- Next is Madam Cama Road that goes to
Nariman Point, past the Institute of Science. This road leads
to Mumbai's modern business district and reminds you that Mumbai is the
commercial capital of India. Phillips' Antiques at the corner has
wonderful old maps of Mumbai. They're expensive, but worth a look.
- Next, past the National Gallery of Modern Art,
is the road to the art district of Mumbai and into the heart of the old
British Fort Area. The Prince of Wales Museum is to your right on
this road. You can spend a happy couple of hours there, if you're
interested in history, sculpture, painting and art.
- The road to your right is the one that goes to
Bombay’s docks. Bombay started out as a shipping port and harbour in the
1600's. So this road is a link to the city's traditional business
history. If you walk along this road, you will see the Old Custom's
House, where goods were taxed, and the Asiatic Library which
served at the old Town Hall.
Exploring the areas around Regal Cinema can take you upto two
hours if you exclude the Museum.
- Koli Fishing Village, Cuffe Parade
A trip to Bombay is not complete without a look at the
city's original inhabitants - the Koli fisher folk. Take a taxi from Regal
Cinema Circle to Cuffe Parade.
On the way to your right, you will see colourful fishing boats. This is a
little Koli village that has kept its traditional occupation and culture.
You'll see salted Bombay Duck, hanging by the dozen, drying in the sun.
You'll see fishermen mending nets. Walk into the village and you'll see the
women selling fish at the markets. You'll see little kids flying kites and
playing cricket. There's a village temple, a barbershop, a goldsmith, a
grocer, a tailor, a small jewellery store - all in a little 10-minute walk.
The fishing community has a clear division of labour. The men go to fish,
while the women take the fish to the markets. So the fisherwomen - the
Kolins - hold the economic reins of the household. Nobody messes with them!
So don't leave Mumbai without seeing a Kolin!
- Fort District
Once past the fishing village, take a drive through the
historical Fort District. There are several things to see, but I recommend
you don't miss the following:
- Victoria Terminus - a
magnificent building. Don't miss the Indian peacock motifs, or the logo
of the GIPR (the Great Indian Peninsular Railway).
- Bombay University -
honestly, this building is lovely! Check out the carved figures of
various communities of Western India.
- The Asiatic Library and
Town Hall - this is the historical place from where, after the
Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the proclamation of India reverting to the Crown
was read out.
- Bazaar Walk at Crawford Market
The British Fort district ends at Victoria Terminus,
and past that, the old "native" bazaar areas begin.
Jyotiba Phule Market is the official name of this must-see market -
but of course, no one calls it that! Crawford Market it was, and Crawford it
remains. The market is housed in a building that looks like something out of
Victorian London, but over-run with a crazy riot of local colour. There's a
50-foot awning, which lets in light, and in the natural light, you will see
little shops and stalls everywhere. Go during the daytime. You'll stumble
across lots of fruits and vegetables - there are mounds and mounds of them
on display, not just an orderly stacking of a few dozens!
There are tiny knick-knack shops that sell masalas, pickles, chocolates,
toothpaste and lots of other stuff that people want to buy. Lots of things
to photograph if you are a camera-addict.
There's also a meat section and a pets market - but if you're squeamish, you
should avoid this area. Pets are housed with a casual disregard for their
well being, in cramped conditions. But then, this is a city where even
humans live in very tiny cramped huts.
From Crawford Market, you should walk into the nearby lanes, to see the
traditional bazaar areas. It's highly recommended. After all, Mumbai is a
city that lives not in its monuments or buildings, but in its streets and
markets and people. The Jama Masjid is nearby as well as the
- Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach
From the bazaar areas near Crawford Market, drive through
the Princess Street Flyover to Marine Drive.
Ask your driver to stop at the top of the flyover, from where you'll see
your first panoramic view of Marine Drive and the sea. The new business
district of Nariman Point is at one end of Marine Drive, and Chowpatty Beach
at the other.
While the Gateway of India is on the sheltered harbour between the
island of Mumbai and the mainland, Marine Drive is on the other seaward
western side. As a result, in the evening, you'll see glorious views of the
sunset on the Arabian Sea. In the late evenings, the streetlights come on,
lighting up the curve of Marine Drive in what locals call 'The Queen's
Evening is also a wonderful time to spend at Chowpatty beach, just
watching local families out to enjoy the evening breeze. There's a lot of
colour at the beach. Take a peep at the food stalls selling local favourites
- pavbhaji and bhel puri.
- Lots more to see
If you have more time, drive down to Haji Ali, to
see Mahalakshmi Temple, Haji Ali Mosque and Dhobi Ghat
(Mumbai's unique laundry system!).
And you can drive to Malabar Hill, to take a look at the Banganga
Tank (and old and quaint pilgrimage area), the Hanging Gardens,
the Jain Temple, and the Parsi Towers of Silence.