Mumbai offers visitors an exciting mix of attractions, so the next time you have an overseas guest, make it a point to take them to these sites. From rich historical sites and countless monuments to its old bazaars and colorful festivals, everything about the city is vibrant and alive. Here are 15 places that you should visit with your firangi friends.
Taking tourists to the Gateway of India may seem like a cliché to inhabitants of the city, but this is no less true than if you were to visit the Eiffel Tower, when in Paris. It is a landmark of the city and is an imposing monument that should not be missed. The area, known as Apollo Bunder is an attraction in itself with its beautiful sea views and heritage buildings.
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, Chatrapati Shivaji Museum is another location that should be on your itinerary. A visit to the museum will probably take up your entire day, but it is certainly worth it. A trip here will be fascinating to anyone visiting from overseas. The building that houses the museum is itself and architectural masterpiece and it houses an impressive collection of art, antiquities, historical artifacts, and lots more.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is the largest natural forest reserve located within a city’s limits. Aside from its one-of-a-kind status, the park offers a refreshing break from the chaos and bustle of the big city. The national park is home to the ancient Kanheri Caves, which is a World Heritage Site. The park is known for its biodiversity, with a variety of birds and animals finding refuge here. You can even sign up for a safari or day trip to the park with Cleartrip Local, using their mobile app.
This cave site consists of a complex of rock-cut temples on the island of Elephanta, off the coast of Mumbai. The site can be easily reached via ferries that leave from the pier at Apollo Bunder, just next to the Gateway of India. The Elephanta Caves are among the most spectacular of India’s ancient cave temples. The caves are adorned with intricate carvings and imposing sculptures. The entire temple complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is must-visit for any history buff.
Jehangir Art Gallery, which is just next door to the Chatrapati Shivaji Museum and Gateway of India, is one of the most prestigious art galleries in the country. Built in 1952, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when the city did not have this gallery. Here, you will find a dazzling collection of art from Indian and international artists. The gallery also helps to showcase the talent of upcoming artists and students with frequent exhibitions. There are four exhibition halls and artists also display their work on the sidewalk outside, giving the entire place a colorful and cultured vibe!
There are few visitors to India who do not want to spend time shopping for local wares, handicrafts, woodwork, and lots more. This makes Colaba Causeway the perfect place to take any firangi friend. Filled with tourists and city folks who simply want to shop or unwind, the entire stretch has a lively atmosphere throughout the year. You will find hawkers along the street selling everything from mats and carpets to finely woven fabrics and jewelry. Just make sure that you do the bargaining, or your friend could end up being swindled.
Chor Bazaar literally translated means ‘Thieves’ Market’, but fear not; you are unlikely to be mugged or robbed here, just be wary of pickpockets as you would be in any crowded place. The market is actually filled primarily with second-hand goods, not stolen goods or contraband. While there is almost nothing that you won’t find here, from clothes to electronics, the market is most famous for its collection of priceless antiques and vintage goods. This makes it especially enchanting to visiting foreigners and you will find old gramophones, Victorian furniture, jars, vintage cameras, and lots more.
Crawford Market is one of Mumbai’s most iconic retail destinations, offering any visiting tourist the quintessential exotic Indian shopping experience. Strictly speaking, the market refers to the vendors housed within the premises that were built back in 1869, but today you will find hawkers and street vendors spilling out into the surrounding alleys and by-lanes as well. The market is famed for its variety of fresh fruits and edibles, as well as its collection of textiles, crockery, and lots more. To really explore this area, sign up for a trip to the famous market, using Cleartrip’s mobile app, as they offer guided tours to the market.
Located in Mumbai’s most-happening suburb, Bandra, Linking Road is packed with shoppers at almost any time of the day. In the heart of the city, this is one of the largest flea markets, with roadside hawkers, vendors, and stalls, competing with plush retail stores. This is the ideal shopping destination to find any kind of clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, handbags, and lots more. The road also has numerous restaurants and street-food sellers, so there are lots of places for a pit-stop between shopping!
Dharavi may have become infamous as Asia’s largest slum, but it is a testament to the resilience and business acumen of Indians, no matter how rich or poor. Dharavi’s market produces and sells fabrics, woodwork, and pottery products, not just in the city, but across the world. It is believed that the residents of Dharavi’s slums generate a turnover of more than USD 500 million each year!
The National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA), located at land’s end in Nariman Point is the pride of the city. This is part of the cultural hub of the city with impressive auditoriums and halls hosting a variety of theatre-screenings, musical, and other cultural performances. From theater performances featuring prominent personalities like Naseeruddin Shah and Lilette Dubey, to musical concerts featuring the likes of Zubin Mehta and Hariprasad Chaurasia, this is a definite must-visit for anyone looking for refined entertainment.
The Celebrate Bandra festival is one of the latest additions to Mumbai’s rich cultural life. Started in 2003, the festival showcases some of the best talent of the city with music, theater, literature, and art, as well as cuisine and sports. The festival hosts multiple events simultaneously in various parts of the Bandra suburb, with some of the most popular being those held at the Carter Road Promenade, Reclamation, and Bandstand. The celebrations have included musical and theatrical performances from the likes of Shaan, Usha Uthup, Soulmate, The Mavyns, Naseeruddin Shah’s Motley, and lots more.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrated with great fervor by the inhabitants of the city, during the August or September. The festivities last for up to 10 days, with veneration of the God Ganesha. These festivities culminate with the immersion of the idol in the sea or at lakes or ponds. With lakhs of devotees from across the city flocking to the shores and lakes to immerse their big and small idols, visitors are treated to quite a spectacle. Chowpatty is perhaps the best place to get lost in the festive fervor, because of the ambience of the location and also because it draws some of the biggest crowds, as well as the most stunning idols.
Bandra Fair is part of a tradition that dates back almost 3 centuries, so it is not surprising that it draws lakhs of visitors each year. The annual fair is held in the middle of September to celebrate the Nativity of Mary at the Mount Mary Church. The celebrations draw devotees and pilgrims from far and wide, and it also attracts shoppers, tourists, and others to the stalls. While stalls within the church premises only sell religious objects and candles, the stalls that line the surrounding roads sell a variety of eateries, including traditional Goan, Keralite, Tamilian, and other sweets.
The Kala Ghoda Festival is one of the city’s longest running cultural festivals. Held in the gorgeous heritage precincts of Mumbai’s Fort area, the festival is held annually in the month of February. The art festival draws participants and performers from across the country, as well as from other parts of the world. The celebrations include exhibitions of both visual and performing arts, with music, dance, and theater performances. There are also workshops and seminars on various creative pursuits and arts.
With visits to these locales and celebrations your firangi friends are sure to be captivated with spirit of Mumbai.