Here are five off-beat things to explore in and around Mumbai:
Kotachiwadi: Beautiful old roads, century-old Portuguese architecture inspired buildings squashed next to each other biding their time. It is quaint, cute and sufficiently different from the rest of the madness and chaos of Mumbai. Check it out!
Getting there: Kotachiwadi is in Girgaon near Charni Road Railway Station. Get to Jagganath Shankar Seth Road; it’s down the lane opposite Mohan Building.
Mazgaon: Below the long and fancy Eastern Expressway, far from prying eyes, almost forgotten by the rest of Mumbai hides a quaint suburb Mazgaon. Once the most hip and happening place in Mumbai, where it seems the rich people had their holiday homes, Mazgaon still has a lot of charm. It’s far from touristy and even further from the run-of-the-mill but you will need to find its charm for yourself. Almost like Columbus, eh? Check out the Chinese Temple, Matharpakhadi and Hasanabad Dargah.
Getting there: If you feel like a long walk, start from Gloria Church, Byculla and walk down Veronica Road that runs along it till you reach a mosque, turn right and then start keeping your eyes open. You will see a Shia cemetery and then shortly Hasanabad on your right and then two lanes away, if you turn right you will walk down to Matharpakhadi.
Banganga: Imagine a fresh water lake surrounded by sea and perched on a hill – welcome to Banganga. Walk down between squashed homes and numerous temples, the tank suddenly appears. Laxman is supposed to have shot an arrow or ‘bana’ into the ground and water from the Ganga spurted out, hence the name Banganga. It is beautiful through the year but especially during the Banganga Festival, a festival of Indian Classical Music that takes place annually in January.
Getting there: This is in Walkeshwar. If you choose to walk then at the Teen Bhatti Signal continue walking straight, the road’s get a little confusing and it might make sense to ask around. It is best reached by taxi. If you choose to visit, then also go to the Hanging Gardens for a lovely view of the Marine Drive promenade; best done in the evening post sunset, to wonder at the twinkling lights along Marine Drive and understand it’s sobriquet: the Queen’s Necklace!
A local train ride in Mumbai: People might suggest it so you experience the chaotic lifeline of Mumbai, but I recommend it for something else. Travel during the non-peak hours so that you can get a seat by the window. Look at the buildings that line the stations from Churchgate all the way to Andheri on the Western line. You will see quaint old buildings, dilapidated bungalows, isolated railway quarters. All of these seem to belong to another time and another place. Look at them and make up those stories in your head about the occupants and their lives! Between the Vile Parle and Andheri stations, drink in the smells cascading out from the Parle Biscuit Factory that lies along the railway lines to the East.
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum: Yes, we are actually asking you to ‘visit a museum’ especially because this is Mumbai’s oldest museum and possess a certain regal charm. Plus, it is not at all dull and dark like some other lesser-known museums, in fact, it is quite bright and cheerful. There are some great exhibits and some models of things you might have always been curious about like the Tower of Silence.
Getting there: This is in Byculla and walking distance from the station. If you are taking a train, exit on the east and then cross over and take a left and walk till you see the entrance to the museum. If confused ask a passerby for the museum or Jijamata Udyan.
Bhavani is a traveller by choice, a photographer by interest and a writer by desire. She blogs at merrytogoaround.com and tweets @bhavan1. She is in a long term relationship with chocolate!!! (and loves exclamation marks).