We started our incredible 28 days Funky India journey with the vibrant Mumbai, one of the country’s most important cities, being both an essential business and touristic hub. We stayed at the budget New Bengal Hotel, only a few hundred meters north of the remarkable Victoria/CST Station and next to the busy Crawford Market. We spent two days visiting some of Mumbai’s most important sites including the Gateway of India, Malabar Hill, Chowpatty beach and the Khala Ghoda district. The following is a detailed overview of our itinerary with what we experienced and the key attractions we visited.
- Mumbai: an Introduction
- Mumbai day 1: Fort, Churchgate, Colaba, Khala Ghoda and Gateway of India
- Mumbai day 2: Marine Drive, Chowpatty beach , Gandhi House, Malabar Hill, Haji Ali tomb Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghats
- About the New Bengal Hotel in Mumbai
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Mumbai day 1
We arrived in Mumbai from Muscat in early afternoon. As suggested by locals we took a prepaid taxi for 460INR to the touristic area of Colaba in South Mumbai. It was still very hot, and the open window ride gave us a cool breeze. The city changed a bit since the last time I came in 2008, with plenty of construction sites popping up all over the city and especially around the airport. After a long and crazy ride, we managed to reach the destination. We had a quick refreshment in our hotel room, and soon after we were on the streets of the historic centre of Fort and Churchgate. It was rush hours by then, with thousands of commuters flocking in to the grandiose CST station, a marvellous piece of architecture and world heritage site. Moving south towards Colaba, we passed the beautiful colonial architecture of the post office and the various buildings of the Khala Ghoda district including the Town Hall and the Prince of Wales museum. By nightfall we reached Mumbai’s most grandiose sight, the Gateway of India, where we stayed for a while enjoying the relaxed atmosphere along with the local families, couples and group of friends. We also stop to admire the splendid and beautifully illuminated Taj Mahal Palace facing the water, one of the most iconic 5 Stars hotel in India. Our last stop of the day was the very busy shopping street of Colaba Causeway, where we enjoyed a cold beer at the famous Leopold cafe. We went back to the hotel by food with the streets still bustling with action.
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Mumbai day 2
After a good night sleep (as the last one was spent on a plane) and a lovely Indian breakfast (puri and bananas), we were back on the chaotic streets of the city. We walked from the Crawford Market next to New Bengal Hotel way up to the Marine Drive passing by a variety of small but busy streets packed with various shops, street vendors, temples, mosques and sacred cows. When we reached the Arabian Sea, we had a small rest enjoying the splendid views of both the eastern and western coastline of South Mumbai. We then followed the footpath along the coast way up to Chowpatty beach passing by a cricket game on one side and kids enjoying a quick swim before school on the other. From the deserted beach (it usually only get really crowded in the evening) we headed north a couple of blocks to the Mani Bhavan Gandhi House, a lovely museum which pays tribute to one of India’s greatest personalities, where we learned about Mahatma Gandhi life and legacy. After we completed our cultural visit we were back on the waterfront where we had a delicious vegetarian lunch at the popular Cafe Ideals.
After a tasty meal, we continued our city exploration by foot, direction the western tip of South Mumbai, best known as Malabar Hill. Half way through the climb, we decided to hop on a local bus, which took us with the cool breeze of open windows to the top of the hill, where we had one of the most spectacular views of the Mumbai coastline including Chowpatty beach. We passed next to the unique large scale yellow boot and crossed the road to the Kamala Nehru Udyan, a beautiful park filled with animal trees and wonderful flowers arrangements. After a nice rest among young couples, we went down the hill, where we finally caught a taxi to discover the rest of Mumbai’s key attractions. With most of the day spent walking we were happy to enjoy the city from the comfort of a car, passing through the latest addition to the Mumbai skyline, the world’s first billion dollar home, the house skyscraper of Nita Ambani, one of India’s richest man. We than arrived to the Haji Ali tomb on the western coast, a remarkable mosque and tomb, sitting within a small island in the middle of the Arabian Sea. We later moved east to the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghats to observe hundreds of hand washer doing Mumbai’s dirty laundry, while having a quick chat with the locals.
Later that afternoon we were back to Colaba, where we went for a nice evening walk within Khala Ghoda, home to various colonial heritage sites, churches and art galleries. We first enjoyed the local vibe at the lovely Hominmar Circle garden, then passed through the Mumbai Stock Exchange (BSE), the Prince of Wales Museum and finally reached the High Court and the famous Rajabi Clock Tower. Exhausted by all the Mumbai’s sightseeing, we got back to the New Bengal Hotel, and spent some times observing the street life from our third floor balcony.
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About the New Bengal Hotel
Perhaps the best asset of the new Bengal Hotel is its central location, only a few hundred meters from the CST Station also referred as Victoria, a world heritage Site. It is an ideal place to stay if you need to catch an early train, like the Mandovi Express to Goa. Another key feature of the New Bengal is their large street facing balconies, the perfect place to unwind at the end of the day and enjoy the busy street life which goes on until late at night. As for the room itself, it is nothing luxurious and quite small, but it’s ok for a short stay. The hotel is quite clean for Mumbai standards and the staff is friendly and helpful. Overall, I would recommend the New Bengal Hotel and would suggest visiting the busy Crawford market nearby.
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