Mumbai popped in our travel bucket list when my nine year old studied about the financial capital of the country in his SST book. The colourful pictures of Shoe House and Gateway of India were enough to enchant him. He, in turn, drove us to finalise the city as our next outing destination.
Travel agents suggested that 2- 3 days are enough for Mumbai and we should plan an escapade to Lonavala, Matheran etc along with Mumbai. This was enough to dampen my spirits to say the least and encouraged me to plan my travel itinerary on my own.
I visited Mumbai when I was 8-9 years old and had blurred memories of the trip. So on the recent visit the city surprised me on many fronts. The warmth and positive feel of the city and its cosmopolitan nature left me in awe. You can see an amazing amalgamation of cultures in the city with Parsi, Marathi, Hindu, Muslim and Gujrati people everywhere. The best place to witness this cultural deluge is in Chowpatty, in the form of food, clothes/dressing, languages etc. Everyone looks happily busy in their own lives in Mumbai.
We decided to stay at Marine Drive, South Mumbai to save travel time as all tourist spots are nearby/in South Mumbai. Staying in cheaper or faraway hotels, spending more money on commute and wasting time in travel – I wanted to avoid all of these. Marine Drive and Church Gate offer umpteen options and one can select from the options online. Average cost of a decent sea facing room could be around 6-10k. I loved the overall feel and warmth of the place, you can wake up to cherish the tranquil view of the sea, morning joggers walking on the walkway. I loved the positivity which the sight infuses in the atmosphere.
That’s how we went by-
Day 1- Checked in into the Hotel Sea Green South around noon. Had lunch in Hotel Samrat (walking distance from MD). Went to Hanging Garden/Shoe House. Next stop was Mahalaxmi Temple and then to Siddhivinayak Temple. Back to Hotel at night. On the way, taxi driver showed us Ambani resident which was beautifully decorated for Isha Ambani’s wedding.Dinner at Pizza By the Bay which was few metres from the hotel. The place serves some scrumptious pizzas but I loved the place more for its ambience.
Cue/ Tip-off- Sit on the window side in the restaurant, Ice cream at Rustom’s in Churchgate is a must!
Day 2- Visit to the Gateway of India. Since it was a Monday so Elephanta Caves was shut, we just took a boat ride in the sea and went to next stop. You can also get photos clicked by the photographers in front of the Gateway of India a@ Rs. 30 per photo.
Next stop was Babulnath temple, there is a lift which charged a nominal amount and swiftly took us inside the temple. Lunch @ Soam which serves some tastiest varieties of Khichdi I have ever eaten in my life. Back to hotel, rest and went to Girgaum, Chowpatty in the evening. You can relish some mouth-watering snacks at pocket friendly prices.
Cue/ Tip-off – Avoid going to Gateway of India, Nehru Planetarium, Taraporewala etc on a Monday. It is all closed.
Day 3 – Since it was a public holiday and we anticipated heavy rush, so we left around 8.30 for Gateway of India. Took a ferry ride to Elephanta caves which took around an hour to reach the caves. The whole excursion took around 4-5 hours and we were back to Gateway.
Lunch at Sukhsagar, Girgaum Chowpatty.. Back to hotel, rest and visit Colaba Causeway market in the evening. The market is a heaven for shoppers looking for home décor pieces, trendy and fashionable clothes, shoes, watches and chunky jewellery. Dinner at Shivsagar, Churchgate
Cue/ Tip-off – If you really want to enjoy the morning sea joy ride then carry something to feed seagulls which hover over the boat. If there is an old age person who cannot climb steps (around 120 steps) in Elephanta Caves then there is a palki system available at extra cost. Hiring a guide will make the visit more meaningful for everyone.
Day 4- Visit to Haji Ali Dargah and then Iskon Temple. Had lunch at Iskon Temple. There is free food option inside the temple which is the prasadam OR an unlimited thaali sytem which is a paid one. I made an advance booking of a play at Prithvi theatre in Juhu. Enjoyed the Irish Coffee in the theatre café post the show. Later we had to visit our relatives who stayed near Prithvi theatre. You can explore Juhu Chowpatty in evening.
Cue/ Tip-off – Haji Ali is very crowded on Fridays and weekends.
Enjoy watching the Bandra Worli sea link on the way to Prithvi theatre.
Day 5- Visit to Taraporewla aquarium, Nehru Planteraium Crème Center
Cue/ Tip-off- Book show at Nehru Planetarium in advance through online booking @Bookmyshow
Lunch at Crème Centre at Girgaum,Chowpatty
Day6 – Checked out of Hotel Sea Green South, Marine Drive, Mumbai and left for Imagica Khopoli. Reached Imagica in around 1.5 hours , checked in Novotel, Imagica. We deposited luggage in Cloak room and immediately collected our theme park tickets from front desk (tickets were booked in advance) and reached Imagica theme Park through Hotel Bus shuttle service. It is actually 5 -6mins walking distance from the hotel. Spent entire day at the theme Park and came back to hotel around 7.30, we were drop dead tired by this time.
Cue/ Tip-off – If you feel there is too much crowd and long queues inside the park then update your tickets to express tickets by paying extra money. You can take a call after entering the park as there are many centres to update the tickets.
There is strict checking on the gates and you can’t carry any food items inside the theme park.
In case you are staying at Novotel then visitors are allowed to exit and re- enter again which is not allowed for regular visitors.
Day 7- Deposit the luggage in cloak room and left the hotel room. Spent the entire day at Imagica Water Park. Left the water park for the airport. There are many restaurants/dhabas as you exit Imagica .
Cue/ Tip-off- You are allowed to wear any polyster clothing inside the water park. There are changing rooms at the entry of the water park. You have two options of going to waterpark- ropeway and bus. Obviously Ropeway provides a better experience.
During the entire vacations we commuted through Yellow & Black taxi or Ola/Uber. I would suggest take Ola/Uber if distances are long and you want a comfortable ride. For shorter distances and quick transportation yellow & black taxis are the best. Also, it is little difficult to locate Ola/Uber in crowded areas like Gateway of India, Colaba Causeway Market or Chowpatty. Plus, the local taxis are cheaper as Ola/Uber charge minimum fare / surge pricing. But if you are travelling in hot weather or to polluted areas then avoid Yellow & Black taxis
Fares are roughly like this-
Yellow & Black (Non AC taxi)- Rs 22 as base fare and then it is metered
Blue Taxi (AC taxi)- Rs 28 as base fare as they are AC taxis
If you really want to enjoy the Mumbai vacations then shed all your inhibitions and let loose! It is a city with a lively spirit so rejoice in exploring it.