51 things to do in Mumbai

This is an Contemporary list edited for travelers

1) Ride the Gateway ferry
The water’s brackish and there’s roughly one life-belt for every 20 passengers. But don’t let that stop you from taking a joyride on one of the ferries at Apollo Bunder. The 20-minute ride around the harbour is perfectly safe, so long as you don’t lean too far out of the boat.
Gateway of India, Apollo Bunder. Ferries leave roughly every 15 minutes. Rs 50 approx

2) Bet on the horses
The Derby is strictly for wannabes. For the real deal, visit the Mahalaxmi Racecourse on a normal raceday – twice to four times a week, depending on the time of year – and put your lot in with the punters of every description who mill about the bookies. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your Flying Ranee from your Flying Toofan, just go with the favourites.
Royal Western India Turf Club, Mahalaxmi. Check www.rwitc.com for race dates.

3)Sip Irish coffee at Prithvi
Although the management denies that there’s any liquor in the Irish coffee, the drink is the most sought-after item on the menu of Prithvi Café, the suburban hangout of choice for theatrewallahs and television actors.
Prithvi Café, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Vile Parle (W) (2614-9546). Tue-Sun 12.30-11.30pm, Mon 3-11pm.

4 Run the Mumbai Marathon
It’s the one day all of Mumbai takes to the streets. A charitable event held in January, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon has five categories, from the popular seven km Dream Run to the 42 km full-distance Real Thing.
See www.scmm.indiatimes.com.

5)Build a model aeroplane
It takes more than a wing and a prayer to take flight. But at Virar’s Space Apple, it takes a three-day aeromodelling camp to help creative types find their inner aircraft engineer. Participants are introduced to the theory and principles of aviation and are taught how to make models of three planes using paper, foam and thermacole.
Ish Krupa, Agashi, Virar (W). Call on 95250-2586764. Rs 2,500 onwards.

6) Spend time at the coin gallery
Numismatists will go nuts in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghrahalaya’s House of Laxmi coin gallery. The gallery traces the development of money from the sixth century BC to the British era.
MG Road, Kala Ghoda (2284-4519). Tue-Sun 11am-5.30pm. Rs 15 for adults, Rs 300 for foreigners, Rs 5 for children 5-12 years.

7) Play cricket at Azad Maidan
If you can claim some part of the sprawling ground (which is often overrun by political meetings and protests), join enthusiasts of all ages and sizes for a session of impromptu cricket.
Azad Maidan, opposite CST station.

9) Eat biryani at Delhi Darbar
Jafferbhai’s Delhi Darbar, at the bottom of the city’s red light district, serves up some of the best biryani south of the NCR. Made from a recipe devised by proprietor Jafferbhai Mansuri’s grandfather back in 1900, the Delhi Darbar’s biryani maintains the same wonderful aroma and taste time after time.
Near Gulshan Cinema, Grant Road (2387-5656). Daily 11.30am-12.30am.

10)See the BNHS butterflies
The wooden cupboards around entomologist Naresh Chaturvedi’s desk at the Bombay Natural History Society contain slim drawers that hold roughly 20,000 moths, butterflies and winged insects labelled and mounted on support rods. The collection covers 650 species, including 11-inch atlas moths, translucent Kaiser-i-Hind butterflies and a fancy turquoise-tipped papillion from Paris.
Hornbill House, opposite Lion’s Gate, Colaba (2282-1811). Contact Naresh Chaturvedi for two-hour guided viewing sessions. School students Rs 30 (50 students minimum). Adults Rs 100 (20 people minimum).


11) Take a bit of Mumbai with you
The next time you’re feeling Mumbai-sick, hug a pillow with a photograph of the Rajabai Tower. Buy trays with water colours of old Mumbai from Contemporary Arts and Crafts, Krsna Mehta’s quirky kites from Good Earth, and reproductions of old city maps and photographs from Phillips Images.
BOMBAY by Krsna Mehta and Sangita Jindal, Good Earth, Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel (2495-1954). Rs 800 for cushion covers and watches, Rs 40,000 for canvasses. Daily 11am-8pm. Contemporary Arts & Crafts 19 Nepean Sea Road (2363-1979). Mon-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm. Rs 2,000-Rs 5,000. Phillips Images, Colaba (2202-0564). Mon-Sat 10am-7-pm.

12) Take a leak in the heritage toilet
We’re not suggesting that you deface public property. Bombay Dockyard, which allows visitors in on a tour on the first Sunday of every month, has the country’s only heritage toilet. Located just inside the Bombay Castle, between the historic Bombay and Duncan docks, the fully operational lavatory has been in use since 1750, mostly by sailors who aren’t allowed to use their ship’s toilets when the vessels are in the harbour.
Lion’s Gate, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road.
Call 2265-5750 for details. Only for Indians.

13) Eat a thali in Kalbadevi
One of the best thalis you’ll ever eat in Mumbai is to be found on the first floor of an ancient building in Kalbadevi. Set up in the early 1940s, the Friends Union Joshi Club serves up a delicious Gujarat-Marwari thali that combines a salad, four vegetables and rotis, dal, chaas and a dessert.
Friends Union Joshi Club, Kalbadevi (2205-8089). Mon-Sat 11am-3pm & 7-10pm; Sun 11am-3pm. Rs 70.

14) Browse at the Asiatic Library
If you’ve grown up on a diet of Bollywood movies, you might confuse the Asiatic Library for the Bombay High Court or an assortment of city colleges but the steps of this whitewashed building at Horniman Circle actually lead up to the city’s largest public library. Browse and read for free (or take a snooze in its peaceful corridors).
Central Library, opposite Horniman Circle, Fort (2266-0956). Mon-Sat 9.30am-6.45pm.


15) Take a heritage cruise
Take in Fort’s neo-gothic architecture while cruising around in the open-topped double-decker bus Neelambari. The bus operates on weekends and begins its tour at 7pm from the Gateway of India. For an hour, you can lose yourself in the graceful sweep of Horniman Circle and the imposing columns of the Asiatic Library.
Bombay Safari, Gateway of India, near Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba (2281-0139). Rs 40-90.

16) Drink beer at Janata
Janata is a regular working-class bar, like the hundreds of such boozers that dot Mumbai. It has the same Formica benches and tables, the menu offers similar Mangalorean and Indian-Chinese pub grub and the alcohol too is identical. Yet, Janata has acquired a certain cache, primarily because it’s the quintessential Mumbai dive – even if it is now the spot for the more high-brow to slum it out.
Janata, Pali Naka, Bandra (W) (2600-4049). Daily 10.30am-1.30am.

17 Chew on wada pao
Indulge in Mumbai’s iconic snack at Mama Kane’s Swatchha Upahar Griha, the establishment that claims to have invented India’s potato-filled answer to the hot dog.
222, Smruti-Kunj, near Dadar station, Dadar (W) (2422-1161). Daily 10am-9pm. Wada Rs 7, wada pao Rs 8.

18 Walk along Marine Drive
It’s Mumbai’s answer to Havana’s Malécon. Even after its freshly installed parapets, redesigned jaywalk-deterrent road divider and missing bhuttewalas, the walk still has goose bump-inducing views of the Mumbai skyline and the Arabian Sea.

19 Dance with Ganpati
Among the hundreds of processions that throng the Haji Ali waterfront, the Dance with Ganesh truck is one of the biggest. It’s a trippy laser show, 20,000 watts of pure sound and gallons of bhang all rolled into one. On Sept 25 this year, the final day of the Ganesh festival, organisers DJs Asad and Hussain will play house, trance and assorted electronic sounds 2pm onwards from Mahalaxmi temple to the Worli immersion site.

20 Participate in the bird race
The Mumbai Bird Race involves spotting and recording as many birds as possible on a single day. Initiated in 2005 by naturalist Sunjoy Monga, the race takes groups of amateur and veteran enthusiasts into Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Tulsi and Vihar lake areas and Karnala bird sanctuary. Bird sightings are recorded over a 12-hour period using binoculars, avian catalogues, hawkeyed team members and sheer luck.
See www.indiabirdraces.com.

21 Listen to music at Banganga
The Banganga tank in Walkeshwar is surrounded by Hindu temples on all sides. It’s worth a visit any time of year but in January or February the area boasts an added attraction: the Hindustani classical music festival organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation to raise funds for the preservation of the ancient site.
Banganga Tank, Walkeshwar (2202-1843).

22 Listen to qawwalis at Haji Ali
Four evenings a week, Sikandar Shad and his group of musicians ensure that visitors praying at the Haji Ali get a good dose of qawwal as they watch the sun set.
Haji Ali, Lala Lajpat Rai Road. Sun, Mon, Thur, Fri, 4-8.30pm.

23 Climb Mazagaon Hill
Joseph Baptista Gardens is one of the few parks in the city perched atop a hill. The 126-year-old park, known locally as Mazagaon Hill, includes a jogging track, a children’s area, a senior citizens’ corner, a study centre, fountains, a temple cut out of the rocks and a fabulous view of the harbour.
Joseph Baptista Gardens, Mazagaon. Daily 7am-9pm.

24)Catch a music gig
Not Just Jazz by the Bay is the sole survivor on a street once lined with restaurants that in the 1960s each hosted their own jazz band. It features live acts from Wednesday through Saturday. The performers include college bands and a few originals, stalwarts from the city’s ’60s and ’70s pop-rock scene such as the Elvis-channelling Gary Lawyer and sari-clad diva Usha Uthup, in addition to local jazz legends such as Jazzy “Joe” Pereira.
Soona Mahal, opposite The Ambassador Hotel, 143 Marine Drive (2285-1876).

25 Have pao bhaji at Sardar
Expect up to 50gm of Amul butter in your plate of pao bhaji. But don’t let the butter scare you away. The signature dish at Sardar in Tardeo may be all wrong for dieters, but clearly does a lot right for the palate.
Tardeo Road Junction, Tardeo (2353-0208). Daily 11am-2am. Rs 47.

26 Get a role as a movie extra
If you’re American, Australian or European and want a bit role in a Hindi film before flying out, head to Leopold’s Café in Colaba. This watering hole for tourists is the biggest talent pool for agents looking for candidates to play decadent Westerners in the movies.
Leopold’s Café, Colaba (2202-0131). Daily 7.30am-midnight.

27 Join a music circle
Mumbai may be known to many as Bollywood but it’s also the country’s Hindustani classical music capital. From Kishori Amonkar to Zakir Hussain, almost every major classical maestro has a Mumbai connection. Joining a music circle that organises concerts every fortnight is a great way to get familiar with present and future stars.
Bhavan’s Cultural Centre, Andheri (W) (3293-8017) and Karnataka Sangha, Matunga (W) (2437-7022).

28 Marvel at miniatures
Browse through the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya’s miniatures of Mughal kings luxuriating in palaces and Krishna swanning around gardens with his gopis.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya, Kala Ghoda (2284-4519). Tue-Sun 11am-5.30pm. Rs 15 for adults, Rs 300 for foreigners, Rs 5 for children below 12 years.

29 Bargain for bras
The lingerie stores at Crawford Market are packed with randy twentysomethings who guess your size – correctly – before you can. There are bargains to be had if you don’t mind the stares.
Crawford Market. Mon-Sat.

30 Snooze at the Sassoon Library
If you happen to be in Kala Ghoda and in need of a post-lunch nap, head to the row of planter’s chairs that lines the first floor deck of the David Sassoon Library. They’re more comfortable than first-class airline seats.
Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda, Colaba (2284-3703). Daily 8am-9pm.

31)Visit the Chinese Temple
General Kwan Tai Kon cuts an imposing figure on the gilt altar in Mumbai’s only Chinese temple. Worshippers usually come during Chinese New Year.
Nawab Tank Road, Mazagaon.

32 Eat street food at a khau galli
Pick from batatawadas, pudlas and other innovations that you get only on Mumbai’s streets, such as the Schezwan dosa. Wash these down with the medley of fruit and ice-cream called “fruit slad”.
Third Agiary Lane, Zaveri Bazaar. Also at New Marine Lines.

33 Munch idlis at Café Madras
The idlis at Café Madras are probably the best you’ll ever get outside of a south Indian home in Mumbai. The restaurant’s recipe shuns the Shetty-style rice grits in favour of the pricier but more flavourful urad dal, uses old-school slow steamers to retain moisture and texture and serves up its idlis with sambar, home-made butter and mulagapudi.
King’s Circle, Matunga (2401-4419). Tue-Sun 7am-2.30pm, 4pm-11pm. Rs 13.

34 Catch the Prithvi Festival
In November, Juhu’s Prithvi Theatre turns into a venue for one of the most anticipated events on the city’s cultural calendar. Prithvi’s annual drama festival usually hinges on a theme: this year, it’s musicals.
Prithvi Theatre, Juhu (2614-9546).


35 Revolve and eat
Here’s a new spin on dinner. In 90 minutes, while you work on your crispy crab rolls and tofu with bak choy at Pearl of the Orient,
the city whirls under your feet. Don’t blame your stiff drink. Mumbai’s only revolving restaurant spins under the gentle power of a two HP engine, with views of the Queen’s Necklace, Brabourne and Wankhede stadia and the stock exchange.
Ambassador Hotel, Churchgate (2204-1131). Daily 12.30-2.45pm & 7.30-11.30pm.

36 Pray at the actors’ temple
Situated diagonally across from the ISKCON temple, the Mukteshwara temple is regarded as the shrine where all Bollywood aspirations come true. The seven-storeyed temple houses over 130 deities, from Vishnu with ten faces to Buddha.
Mukteshwara temple, Juhu. Mon-Sat 7am-midnight. Sun 7am-1pm, 4pm-midnight.

37 Be the hero in a movie poster
Always pictured yourself in a great Bollywood romance? Arm yourself with your photograph and call one of the artists below. They will source the poster of any movie you wish to star in and paint you into your own tragic saga in a couple of days.
Call Durgadutt Pandey on 98193-46775 or Arvind Chudasama on 98208-76707. Rs 8,000-Rs 12,000, depending on size.

38 Clink with models at Olive
It’s suburban Mumbai’s favourite bar, whether it’s the margaritas that tempt you or the lissom ladies nursing their margaritas. Thursday nights are as glitzy as it gets.
Olive, Khar (2605-8228). Mon-Sat (8.30pm-1.30am). Sun brunch service too.

39 Show up on Page 3
The simplest way to get onto the party pages is to make a quick payment to the friendly folk at Medianet, the public relations wing of the Times of India. An excel spreadsheet will tell you the exact price of appearing in their newspaper, depending upon how many times you want to show up and how many inches you want to take up.
Call Medianet Times Group on 2273-5483.

40 Stroll along Juhu beach
Now that bhelpuri stalls and horses are back where they belong, Juhu beach finally has a stretch that lets you enjoy a solitary walk. Now if only they’d clean up the water.
Juhu beach, Juhu.

41 Pole dance
Unleash the Pussycat Doll in you by enrolling in a Dare & Bare class at Gold’s Gym on Nepean Sea Road. Anchored by fitness instructor Shilpa Rane, the class teaches a variety of tricks from the sex trade – striptease, lap dancing and pole dancing – which will help you shed your inhibitions for good. Over a one-hour class, expect to go through basic butt moves, hip rolls, a slinky catwalk, deep dips and a squat that doesn’t quit. Perform all of those moves on stilettos and you are likely to have an intensive workout for your thigh and leg muscles as well.
Dare & Bare pole dancing classes, Gold’s Gym, near Chandralok, Nepean Sea Road, (98331-03710). Tue and Thur 7-8pm. Rs 2,400 plus taxes for eight sessions, plus Rs 500 for enrolment.


42 Devour a divine brownie
If heaven were to take the form of a dessert, it would come in the shape of a Theobroma chocolate chip brownie. The brownie is rich yet light and each bite is packed with the dense cocoa niblets.
Cusrow Baug Shop No 24, Colaba Causeway (6529-2929). Daily 8.30am-12.30am. Rs 30.

43)Play beach football at Juhu
Feel free to showboat your scissor kick to the locals who gather early in the morning and before the sun goes down for a kick off.
Juhu beach, Vile Parle (W).

44 Find the Fort wall
For those who still don’t believe that the Fort area past CST gets its name from an actual citadel, the eastern boundary wall of St George’s Hospital should come as a surprise. The last stone fragments of the walled city that existed till 1864 stand as proof of the time Byculla, Malabar Hill, Mazagaon and Parel formed the suburbs and Bandra housed holiday homes for the wealthy.
St George’s Hospital, behind General Post Office, P D’Mello Road, Fort.

45 Visit the Mumbadevi temple
Pay your respects to the patron goddess of the Kolis, Mumbai’s first inhabitants. The temple doors are made of silver and its railings are filled with coins shoved in by worshippers who want their wishes fulfilled.
Mumbadevi Road, near Zaveri Bazaar. Daily 5am-noon, 4-8pm.

46 See Jehangir’s firman
One of the gems in the Alpaiwalla Museum in a firman, or letter of recognition, written by Mughal emperor Jehangir in 1 618. The firman was a reward for Chandji Kamdin and his nephew Hoshang Ranji for the hospitality they showed the monarch in Navsari. FD Alpaiwalla Museum, Khareghat Memorial Hall, Khareghat Colony, NS Patkar Marg, Hughes Road (2361-6586). Mon-Fri 10.30am-1.30pm, 2.30-5.30pm.

47 Get your portrait made
The students and other struggling artists that dot the Pavement Gallery outside Jehangir Art Gallery are ready, eager and willing to indulge your narcissism.
Pavement Gallery, Kala Ghoda.


48 Read books on Mumbai
Care to read Sir Dinshaw Wacha’s thoughts on the city in the period between 1860 and 1875? Trying to locate back issues of Bombay magazine? Almost everything you want to know about Mumbai is in the Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s Bombay City Corner.
Bombay City Corner, Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Third Floor, 78 Veer Nariman Road, behind Churchgate Station (2204-6633). Mon-Fri 10am-5.45pm; first and third Sat 10am-1.45pm.

49 Sing bhajans to motor beats
You don’t need to use your eyes to find Gujarati saint Jalaram Bappa’s tiny shrine on Bhuleshwar Road. Your ears will get you there. For its evening puja, Bappa’s temple plays the drums, cymbals, brass bells and ghungroos – all without a single musician. They have a nifty little contraption that hooks up the instruments to a motor and plays them simultaneously, keeping preset beats and rhythms. The machine was a gift from a devotee two years ago.
Jalaram Bappa Mandir, Bhuleshwar Road, off Kalbadevi Road. Daily 7pm.

50 Eat offal dishes
Ling’s Pavilion does an excellent chilled pork aspic (pork fat with bits of pig ears), the stalls outside Minara Masjid serve heart masala and Noor Mohammadi at Bhendi Bazaar is famous for its nalli nihari or bone marrow.
Ling’s Pavilion, off Colaba Causeway, Colaba (2285-0023). Noor Mohamadi, 179 Wazir Building, Abdul Hakim Noor Mohammadi Chowk, Bhendi Bazaar (2345-6008).

51 Visit Japanese graves
Behind Worli’s Nipponzan Myohoji or Japanese temple is a little-known cemetery that houses the ashes of Japanese prostitutes and other Japanese immigrants. The cemetery has two stupas, a shrine and a house.
Hindu Shamshan Bhoomi, behind Japanese temple, E Moses Road, Worli

This is an Contemporary list edited for travelers: Source Time Out Mumbai

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