4 Breathtaking Days in Mumbai

An Awesome Experience of Fast-paced Life, Lip-smacking Delicacies and A Plenty of Sightseeing

 

Satellite Image of India during DIwali

You have seen this picture many times, year after year, during Diwali, haven’t you? Yes, you have. It is said to be the satellite view of India during the festival. I don’t know whether to believe this, but I do agree that my first glance of Mumbai through the not-so-big window of an Indigo flight was so much similar to the satellite picture.

View from Plane

Finally, I was visiting the city that Sunita had always desired for. I was super excited, so was she.

The sun had already set in, hence making way for the colorful lights of the streets, vehicles and towering buildings to dazzle and sparkle, creating a festival-like scene. In my mind a lot of things were happening; after all, it was one of those first trips I made in the recent times. And peeping through the window in the midair at the effervescent, vivacious Mumbai city, filled me with vigor, keenness and a sense of ceaseless excitement.

First Day at Leisure, a Gourmet Meal & the Night Adventure:

At Airport

While you have a giant suitcase to carry and a tiny human creature to hold with utmost care, getting completely exhausted is what you would experience by the end of the day. I could feel the same as our flight landed in the city that is often termed as Mayanagri.

It was 9 pm by then, and the fast paced life (the office hour rush – terming it alternatively) seemed to have slowed down as we (my wife and our daughter) drove past the Vashi Bridge, connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai (my brother’s residence). “Rome didn’t fall in a day” a poster that caught my attention was one of the first sights to witness in this new city. As our cab rolled in, I was utterly wooed by the roads lined with high-rise buildings, skyscrapers, ocean and hills. Everything was so sublime, and all were wrapped in a cloak of silence. ‘The city that never sleeps’ – this fits aptly as I came across some of the most astonishing commercial architectures, colonial buildings, the bustling beaches, fancy hotels and chic nightclubs. The one and half-hour cab ride set a perfect platform for us.

Not only did we receive a wholehearted welcome by my brother and sister-in-law, but also we were warmly greeted by a wide gamut of delectable homemade Odia delicacies, prepared by my sister-in-law (she’s a damn good cook). There were so many things to talk and gossip about, and the conversation started right from the dining and don’t know when it got ended (I remember the chat show was still on as we retired to the bed).

Second Day – A Stroll amongst the Celebrities in Film City, Goregaon:

A new day, a fresh start! The rejuvenated soul got up to a bright morning that promised a day full of activities. The parks and footpaths were jam-packed with morning joggers, walkers and parents of the kids trying the best to make their little champs achieve the unachievable. After a short session of badminton in the park, we set out to explore the most coveted attraction for any budding movie or television star– the Film City Tour.

Owned and operated by Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation Limited, the Mumbai Film City, known as Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari, is an integrated film complex located at Goregaon. Sprinkled with manicured grounds, lush greenery, parks, fountains, lakes, and famous daily soap sets, the complex nicely sets up for the Hindi film and television industry.

Yes, we made it just in time. I was wondering how come this time Indians were so punctual. We would have missed the tour bus, had we been late by 5 minutes. The wife whispered in my ear, “Are we really going to see the film stars?”. “I’m very much optimistic, and we may spot Salman Khan”, encouraging her to stay curious. We were endowed with packets of chips, water bottles and ID cards as we boarded the bus.

The AC bus was power-packed with visitors of all ages – couples, kids, older person, and the women taking their respective seats. And guess the most excited people on the bus? The WOMEN. Yes, they are the most loyal viewers of the shows, and no one can deny their contributions to the TRP of the daily soaps, particularly. From Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata hai to Chidiya Ghar, from Bahu Hamari Rajnikant to Saath Nibhana Saathiya and from Yeh Hai Mohabbatein to Thapki Pyaar Ki – not only did they quickly brush up the recent episodes, but they didn’t forget to reveal their favorite characters also. I was not surprised to find the ladies remarkably talented with exceptional memory power since I hold personal experience in it (married man, you know :D).

Bahu Hamari Rajnikant Set
A movie set is in the making
Chidiya Ghar – Famous comedy serial on SAB TV
Thapki Pyaar Ki – Live shooting set
You have seen it in many films and serials.
The Tour Bus
Suicide point. Suicide scene from No Entry was shot here.

A smiling face with a lot of dynamism and vitality exuded as an earnest ‘hello’ from Pankaj (our guide) broke the momentum and it brought me back to the reality (I was also dreaming about the Biggies). Diminutive in size, this man had come to Mumbai from Lucknow many years ago. Like many, he too nurtures Bollywood Dream or a good break in TV at least. He’s tried his hands at many popular serials, including Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma and has materialized opportunities that have come his way.

Pankaj in action

He had something quite hypnotic in his voice that made us inquisitive and keen about the tour. He explained the rules saying that tourists (the visitors on the bus) are not allowed to create a turmoil on the sets, and requested everyone not to get down and loiter here and there without his permission. As the bus rolled in, he switched on the TV that showed a video which further explained the history and geography of each TV set and film location, simultaneous to our current tour.

Star-like feel for Pankaj

Third Day – Exploited High Speed Internet Broadband:

Working while on the go

The third day was a complete rest. Rest – what? Well, I’m not the kind of person who would love to laze around and do nothing. Since our abode was embellished with high speed internet, I exploited it my way. And my way was taking up freelance projects and accomplishing maximum. I needed instant bucks, and I had this only option at which I’m the best. Also, I wouldn’t lie about watching a few videos that I’ve subscribed to.

Family dining at J Diner’ss

Fourth Day – Exploring the City as If I Wouldn’t Come Back:

How long could you confine yourself to the cubicle when there was a whole new world full of amazing sights waiting to be explored? My heart was beating faster and faster as I was inching towards the tour culmination. Before we flew back, we had just one day and I made certain that I was not leaving any stone unturned to cover as many places as possible; hence, boarded a local cab and kicked off to an eventful day.

‘City of Dreams’, ‘City that Never Sleeps’ and ‘City of Firsts’, Mumbai was always on my bucket list. Boasting all the ingredients of a top notch holiday destination in India, Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, offers an electrifying vibe, conducive climate and a plethora of amazing places to see.

It was a 12-hour city tour that included the majestic sights of the five-star Taj Hotel, the stunning architectural beauty of the Gateway of India, an afternoon stroll along the pristine beach of Chowpatty, an evening ferry ride on the Arabian Sea, witnessed the paramount religious site of Haji Ali, drove past towering buildings along Marine Drive, captured an awe-striking Bandra-Worli Sea Link, clicked photos in front of Bollywood stars’ residences and splurged on mouthwatering street foods.

Hotel Taj on the Backdrop
Bandra-Worli Sea Link
At Shah Rukh Khan’s Residence
Look up there? Probably, the next super star. (Shah Rukh Khan’s son Abram)

 

Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai

Twin Towers
Haji Ali
Haji Ali
Antilia Building
Chowpatty Beach
From the ferry
Marine Drive

A Plenty of Memories to Cherish:

Though it is different from my current city i.e. Delhi in many ways, Mumbai unquestionably became one of my favorite destinations. I can now say that I would love to come back here and go little off the beaten path to discover more life that I missed on this trip. The short span of a halt here accumulated a plenty of memories that are not going to get erased from my memory anytime soon.

Mumbai Travel Tips – Some Handy Info:

Best Time to Visit:

Spring is the best time to visit Mumbai (January to March). The temperature hovers between 20-degree C to 28* C. By the end of March and the start of April experiences high temperatures. Avoid summer travel in the city and escape the scorching heat. Be prepared for monsoons because the city receives heavy downpours that cause road blockages.

How to Get in?

Mumbai is well-connected to domestic as well as international airports. Home to the second busiest airport in the country – Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, it is a major international gateway to the country. It has a strong railway network that is well-linked to all major Indian cities.

Getting Around:

Count on public transport –local trains, taxis, buses, metro, ferries and cars – hire them as per your travel plans.

Where to Stay?

Accommodation in Mumbai is pretty expensive. It will make think twice before booking even the cheapest hotels. In other words, finding a hotel within your budget is not an easy stuff. But yes, if you go little away from the bustling town, places like Navi Mumbai has some good accommodation choices. That further increases your traveling hours. If you are lucky like me and manage to find a friend or relative’s place, you don’t have to spend your fortune then. 

Eat:

From upscale restaurant serving Italian, Japanese, Sushi and Lebanese to street food stalls tempting visitors with vada pav, bhelpuri, rolls, etc. – you get a wide variety to munch on.

Charismatic Delhi – The India Gate

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The India Gate

Kids playing around, friends chilling out, families picnicking, couples rekindling love and patriots becoming more patriotic – when all these are found at one spot, you must be conjuring up images of the India Gate. I see them all as I approach this historic site. Though chaotic in nature as the surroundings are occupied by large number of people, you will find some space for yourself, solitude in nature.

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Rambling lush lawns, long narrow canals, colorful flowers, beautiful fountains, imposing structures, expansive areas and wide streets are some of the main attributes of the India Gate. Sooner I come out of the Central Secretariat Metro Station; the delightful sights of couples, families and youngsters completely inundated in the water activities. A summer evening at the India Gate is pretty much relaxing and unwinding.

Since the distance from Central Secretariat Metro Station to India Gate is less than two kilometers, I prefer taking an evening stroll along the canals in the lawns, seeing the crowd at their best playful acts. Indeed, watching a large number of crowds indulged in outdoor activities is a delightful sight.

Top 10 Activities at the India Gate:

If you ask me to name one destination that can keep you thrilled, keep you occupied the whole day, my answer would be the India Gate. And why not? The iconic structure, which is a war memorial, is India’s one of the most intriguing tourist attractions. For Delhiites, the India Gate is a regular spot for fun. For international travelers, it’s to witness and admire India’s glory.

Universal Picnic Spot for Everyone:

Relaxing Crowd in a Laid-back Environment
Relaxing Crowd in a Laid-back Environment

The expansive greenery, well-manicured lawns on both sides of Rajpath well complemented by canals mostly adorned with boats offer a plenty of space for families and friends to spend some quality time away from home. The vibe it produces is so enthralling. Come once, the captivating sight will entrap you and would not let you go back easily. Pack your picnic basket, filling it with essentials like food and beverages, tableware, cleanup (paper towels and trash bags) and other miscellaneous items that you need.

Boating:

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Want a Ride?

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It is true that Delhiites don’t have access to beaches. So what? They can do other water related activities. One such is boating. India Gate boating is very much famous amongst couples, lovers, kids and families. Do not forget to take a snap of yours keeping the imposing Arch on the backdrop. Anytime throughout the day is an awesome time for boating. Those who are in love, go for a romantic boat ride in the dusk and rekindle the momentum.

Here’s the Youtube link of boating video.

You Don’t Need a Cricket Ground to Play the Game:

Cricket at India Gate
Cricket at India Gate

Are you a diehard cricket fan? Then you don’t need a cricket ground to play your best short. Even I have played cricket with my brother and other guys in the narrow lanes and alleyways. Visitors who are in group should not afford to miss this fun. Oh, your group comprises beautiful girls who consider themselves so delicate and frail? I don’t think that is a problem. Even cricket is very much admired by girls. Ask your friend, I’m sure she won’t turn her back.

Here’s the Youtube link of funny cricket match video at India Gate.

Walking on Rajpath:

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Not the type of visitor who would simply sit back and relax? If so, then why not prefer a romantic walk along with your sweetheart hand-in-hand on Rajpath with India Gate embellishing the background? Feel the aroma of love when it is drizzling on the most celebrated street in New Delhi. No, you cannot afford to miss. What a feeling! Isn’t it?

Have Meetha Pan & Get Your Picture Drawn:

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Take One
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He is a genius.

Look at the panwala! How meticulously he’s performing his job. I take a pause and see him moving his hands so fast, serving his customers diligently – nah, not a single customer returns empty handed. Have a meetha pan, and move forward till you reach the wonderful guy who sees you and draws your picture. He’s a real professional.

Pamper Your Girlfriend’s Moods with a Long, Tiring Photo shoot:

Your girl is likely to tempt you to capture her many moods. That’s not a bad idea I guess because there is no better location that India Gate. Show your creativity and capture shots that are beyond the imagination of your girl. I’m sure your sweetheart will go gaga over your ingenuity. Why would you ask a professional photographer when you can take overwhelming pictures and save a few hundred bucks?

Watch the Sunset, Followed by Carnival-like Evening:

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Swarming with hordes of visitors and hawkers, India Gate creates carnival-like scenery as the Sun moves to the other part of earth. Witness the marvelous sunset like nowhere in Delhi (well, I cannot guarantee a breathtaking sunset like at the Taj Mahal, yet it is no less than that). Budding photographers always wait for this time of the day so that they can have some fantastic pictures to their name.

Watch a Candlelight March:

They say if you sneeze in Delhi, the entire country catches the cold. Do not try and make out its literal meaning. Since Delhi is the heart of this vast subcontinent where media has its home established, no matter how big or small an event or protest happens it reaches to the nook and corner of the country. And when in Delhi, especially at the India Gate, you can spot hordes of people go candlelight vigil on the Rajpath, demanding justice to the victims.

Be a Live Spectator to President’s Speech:

Our President is a great orator. Witnessing his articulation is a real treat. Be fortunate enough to appreciate India’s first citizen delivering public speech at Rastrapati Bhavan, only a few kilometers away from your fun spot. You never know you might get the first news than India’s leading daily.

Admire the Iconic Structure of India Gate:

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Wow, you covered almost all major activities. There is still one left. You got to admire the majestic arch structure and go gaga over the aesthetic artwork of this magnificent war memorial. The majestic monument was designed by the most famous war memorial designer Edin Lutyens, whose feat also lies in building some of the most impressive war memorials in Europe. He has built 66 war memorials in the continent, Cenotaph constructed in 1919, being the most known after World War I. While constructing the India Gate, Edin had the shape of the Arc de Triomphe. The massive structure stands tall up to 42 meters and spans over 30 feet. The flame, which is known as the Flame of the Immortal soldier or Amar Jawan Jyoti, under the shrine of the structure is ceaselessly burning since 1971, commemorating the immortal soldiers who lost their lives during the wars.

Sunday Fun in Delhi

I know, I know, you have been waiting for this day since last Monday. Too much work pressure, consistent yelling of your boss and the meeting deadlines at the last minute –your life’s finished. Isn’t it? No, I don’t think so. Sundays can never be uninteresting if you are a Delhi resident or staying in the capital for some time now.

If you are a kind of person who does not like to be restricted to the four walls of your home or hotel and want to embark upon a never-ending journey of fun, adventure and amusement, you need to get up early, put aside your blanket and tighten up your shoe lace for an exciting day in the capital of India. There are a pool of things waiting for you out there.

Fun Parks:

Can you hear the constant calling of dozens of amusement parks, water parks and picnic spots? These places get crowded by toddlers, bigger ones and couples occupying respective comfortable places – ideal places for refreshment. There is a wide range of interesting things to keep everyone busy – from delightful amusement rides (such as tele combate, hang glider, ranger and carousel) and water rides (such as flume raft slide, tube slider, multi lane slide and aqua twister) to adventure games (such as balance walking, tug of war, Burma bridge, paintball and commando tunnel crawl). At the same time, one should not miss the scrumptious gastronomy. Grab a chicken sweetcorn soup or bite a slice of pron and fish at Food Court.

Fun Parks in Delhi
Kids Zone

Watch a Movie:

Hey lazy folks, there is an excellent way to immerse yourself in endless entertainment is to go and watch a movie. Whether you are a Bollywood movie buff (Salman Khan fan) or a Hollywood flick lover (die-hard fan of Leonardo DiCaprio), the national capital of India has an array of theaters showing flick at your disposal. Just drag your laptop and book a movie at some of the prominent cine-multiplexes such as PVR Cinemas, Fun Cinemas, Wave Cinemas and Satyam Cineplexes. Cinemas are and have always been a major form of entertainment in the national capital.

Watch a Movie
Which movie are you up to?

Shop till You Drop:

From funky to formals, from traditional to western, from jewelry to handicrafts, from branded stores to local stalls, from local souvenir to library, Delhi has an electrifying market that fulfills all your shopping needs. The vibrant atmosphere of Delhi markets keeps you busy shopping. You will find one shopping market better than its predecessor.

Connaught Place, DilliHaat, Sarojini Nagar, Palika Bazaar, ChandniChowk, Lajpat Nagar, Khan Market and Karol Bagh are leading markets bustling with local flavors. Why not buy a Banarasi sari for your mother on her birthday and make the special day even more exceptional?

Shopping in Delhi
Make sure your wallet is fat!

Dine at Best Places:

What are you left with? Oh!!! How can I forget to mention your favorite eateries? I know you are a foodie, and my blog will be incomplete without mentioning the best places to eat in Delhi with family. Top-notch family restaurants close to your home are Indian Accent, Dakshin, Bukhara, Dum Pukht, Karim’s and Punjabi by Nature. However, there is no dearth of Chinese restaurants, French restaurants, Japanese and Italian restaurants if you have had enough of Indian dishes.

Eateries
Don’t interrupt them!