South Mumbai Heritage walk

South Mumbai Heritage walk:

A week earlier: It took almost a week to research about Mumbai, and finally decided to cover only the south part of Mumbai during this visit. On our priority was to walk through the heritage path of South Mumbai and end up at Chowpatty Beach, and the Do’s were the street food and street shopping of Mumbai.

The long awaited trip to Mumbai finally came true on Mar 8th, although the hot summer had already started to rise and Mumbai is a very humid city, but our eagerness to visit was no lesser. The day started at 6 am, when the train started from Pune and were excited to pass through the Sahyadri Mountains of Lonavala and Khandala (which are on my impending list). The train track passes through dozens of tunnels once you pass through Khandala. By the time we reached Thane (the starting point of Mumbai) it was about 9.15am. We started to have glimpses of Mumbai (low rise slums at one side and high rise towers on the other). We finally ended up at the historic railway station, CST – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) at about 10am.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus itself is of architectural prominence and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in 1887 in the High Victorian Gothic style of architecture. Designed by Frederick William Stevens with influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Indian architecture. Just after you walk out of the terminus, you could witness one more building of architectural importance which is also the present Bombay Municipality Corporation (Brihan Mumbai Mahanagarpalika) building. Built in 1893 with a Gothic design and houses 255 ft (77.7 m) tall tower.

Bombay Municipality Corporation

The two buildings can be best viewed on the opposite side of the road in front of CST. Use the subways here to cross the roads, and you won’t get bored passing through as there are funky stuffs here to shop.

The Plan: We had actually planned for a heritage walk in the south Mumbai, so we were all prepared to beat the heat, and the place didn’t disappoint us with lots of street foods and sugarcane juice all through our route.
The heritage walk starts from the Victoria Terminus and BMC and proceeds further with the Azad maidan, Flora Fountain, Oriental buildings, Bombay High Court, Rajabai Clock Tower, Bombay Stock Exchange, Oval Maidan, David Sassoon Library, Kala Ghoda art district, Elphinstone College, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya(Prince of Wales Museum), Colaba causeway street, and finally ends at the Gate way of India and the Taj Hotel.

We started to walk from the BMC towards the Azad maidan through the Hazarimal Somani Road. This cricket ground reminded me Lagaan movie, on one side there is an English club and on the other is a club for the locals. The passage from the Azad maidan ends at the Fashion Street where you can find all the college fashion at a very affordable price starting from Rs100. The bad part of the shopping street is the shop sellers forcing you to buy the stuffs, and the good part is the whole street is lined up with big trees which made us feel cool even in the hot sun. The fashion street is on the Mahatma Gandhi Road (M.G road) falls in between the Azad Maidan and Cross Maidan. The stretch starts from the circle at the Tata communications building on M.G road and ends almost up to the end of maidan, it is all about street shopping with clothing and footwear most of them meant for the youth and college goers. This one was much similar to Jayanagar shopping complex in Bangalore and Fashion Street in Pune. No more a college goers; without wasting much time proceeded towards the Flora Fountain passing through the TATA building.

The Banking district starts from this point, today the financial capital of India and the banking district of Mumbai houses more than 33 national and international banks including the Reserve Bank of India. Most of these banks are housed inside the gothic style 19th century buildings.

Flora Fountain

Flora Fountain is an architectural heritage monument positioned at the intersection of Dadabhai Naoroji Road, M.G road and Veer Nariman road and is built in 1864. Flora Fountain is named after Flora, a Roman Goddess of flowers and the season of spring; her majestic and pretty Portland stone statue adorns the top of the fountain. The fountain is surrounded with a splendid panoramic view of Gothic style buildings including the Oriental buildings and the Central Telegram Office.

Oriental Buildings

Further on the way you can find the Bombay High court and the 85m tall Rajabai Clock Tower to the right, the tower was covered for renovation. So we didn’t head towards Oval Maidan instead took a left turn into the Dalal Street which has the building of Asia’s first stock exchange, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). Since 1980, BSE was moved to the present Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers on Dalal Street. Motor vehicles are not allowed in this street, so it will be a pleasant walk into the street. We then took a right turn into the Mumbai Samachar Marg and one more right into the VB Gandhi Marg, which hosts some of the art shops and buildings including the Kala Ghoda Association, Delhi Art Gallery, the Sabyasachi store and the beautiful Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue(Knesset Eliyahoo) built in 1885. The road ends back to the M.G Road at the Kala Ghoda parking area which was hosting a vintage car fiesta to our surprise.
Bombay Stock Exchange

Sabyasachi store

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue

Annual Vintage Car Fiesta Mumbai – 2014 was organized by the Vintage and Classic Car Club of India (VCCCI), India's official body for vintage motor vehicles that is affiliated to world body FIVA, in association with the Western India Automobile Association. 

1949 Bentley Mark VI

Some of the best vintage cars were displayed in the show including the 1948 Buick Eight, Fiat 600, 1929 Buick 50LX Limousine, 1923 Rover 8 Tourer (bagged the Best Performance award in the Vintage Category), 1933 Studebaker Commander Phaeton (Owned by The Indian Express Ltd Chairman Viveck Goenka won the Concourse D'Elegance, the top honors in the Vintage), 1933 Ford Model B, Ford 1950 club coupe

1923 Rover 8 Tourer

1929 Buick 50LX Limousine

1933 Ford Model B

And the brands included the Ford, Rolls Royce, Packard, Bentley, Buick, Beetle, Cadillac and Volkswagen, Fiat, Chevrolet and Ford.

1933 Studebaker Commander Phaeton

Best of them were the Red Chevrolet Impala of second generation (1959 Impala Hardtop Sport Coupe) and the cute Fiat 600.

Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet Impala

Fiat 600 - Interiors

Fiat 600

Around this parking area are the David Sassoon Library and Elphinstone College on the right side of the road and the Jahangir Art Gallery on the left.

Kala Ghoda Arts Association 1

Kala Ghoda Arts Association 2

Jahangir Art Gallery houses some of the best paintings and art designs. There is also a Cafe Samovar where we had our lunch, prices here are quite on the higher side but the ambiance is made pretty well. The gallery also has washroom facility. Clicking photos is banned inside the art gallery. The place around the gallery is also known as Kala Ghoda Museum Art Gallery Circle.

Elphinstone College

The platform around the Jahangir Art Gallery are covered with artists (Kala Ghoda Arts Association) displaying their work in an open air museum and are kept for sale. Whether it is writing your names on a rice grain or sketching your live picture, all you can find here. One can do street shopping in the platform in front of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. Some of the other places of interest around Kala Ghoda Museum Art Gallery Circle are Max Mueller Bhavan, Institute of Contemporary Indian Art, and the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)

By the time we reached near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum the time was already about 3pm, so we didnt go into the museum, instead directly headed towards Colaba Causeway (Bhagat Singh Marg). At the SP Mukherjee Chowk had some yummy coffee and Vada Pav and walked through Regal Cinema into the Causeway road. This is rated as one of the best place for doing street shopping in Mumbai. This is a place where you lose yourself with street foods on the right side of the road and heavy shopping on the left. There was a small shop on the platform on the right side of the road who sells hot and spicy Bread patties and Vada Pav for just 10Rs, must say this was the best bread patties I ever had. We then headed on the left side of the road and just got busy shopping here. There are quite a range of bargaining here, so keep this in notice it can go less than half price on bargaining. This street is best for shopping cloths, footwear, Ethnic jewellery, antiques and show items. This street gets very busy during evenings as the sun goes down and the weather has chilled up making it an ideal time for shopping especially on the weekends.

Hotel Taj

It was already 6.30pm by the time we headed towards the Gate way of India, we took the M.B Marg. The monument was already lighted up with tri color, and from its left side we can have an amazing panoramic view of the two buildings of Taj Hotel along with the Gate way of India. The boats to Elephanta Island starts from this point, and one can also have small boat trips around this place. One among the typical tourist’s here, took some snaps around this place and started for Chowpatty beach which is about 5km from here. It was very much crowded and found difficulty in getting a taxi and finally managed to pay 100Rs for a taxi ride.

Gateway of India

Hotel Taj - Old and New buildings

Hotel Taj

The ride takes you all through the Mesmerizing Marine Drive, almost a 3 km curve starting from Air India building till the Chowpatty beach. Marine Drive is a place which you cant miss out while you are in Mumbai. After drving through Marine Drive we stopped at Chopatty Beach. In Chowpatty one cant escape from the mouthwatering foods stalls, it was a well-organized street food selling as shops under a closed venue. Foodies go crazy seeing this place. Popular chat foods here are dosa, pani puri, pav bhaji, vada pav, bhelpuri. If you want to beat the heat of Mumbai then you should definitely try the gola ice, and Kulfi’s. Although what I didn’t liked in this place is all the food sellers try to force you to eat in there restaurants, making it a messy place. Once you come out of the food street you can go near the beach and get a mat for a nominal price and sit down and enjoy the beautiful view of Mumbai City landscapes. The time ticked at 9pm, and we had a very bad experience at the beach, when a person approached us to rent the mat, I refused saying I wont need it as we decided to head back to CST to catch our train, but he forced us to pay the money then we started  to go back. Meanwhile was taking pics of the Queens Jewel view of the Marine drive, and the mat seller came to me and stopped me clicking pictures saying “photo clicking is banned here”, I started to laugh as it was not a restricted area, and he started to say that he will complain to Police. I replied him rudely saying “do what ever you want, you cant stop me” and then after clicking some snaps started to walk out of the beach. To my surprise he really went to the police and started to complain about me, there were about 5 police men with a police car. I really don’t know what conversation went through that mat seller and the police, when we walked in front of the police they looked at us carefully and asked the mat seller to go back and do his business. Felt relaxed as we were so tired and late for our train and didn’t had any time and patience to face the Police. We ended our Mumbai trip here with a very bad experience and caught the taxi to CST, who took us on meter in less than 20mins. We reached the railway station at 9.40pm, and our train departed after ten mins.

Queens Jewel - view of Marine drive

Mumbai city view from Chowpatty beach

This is not the end, we definitely come back for more.

What I would suggest is to hang out and relax the cold breeze on the Marine drive near the Air India building instead of Chowpatty beach, since you get a better view of the city from here and don’t get to walk through the polluted beach. In Chowpatty lookout for street food rather than the beach itself.