Insider’s Guide to Mumbai


The-Taj-Mahal-Palace-Tower-Mumbai-1

Taj Mahal Palace

CALLING MUMBAI A MASH-UP would be an understatement. India’s most populous city is marked by an unrelenting convergence of high and low: Prada-clad women wait for fresh sugar-cane juice at corner street stalls, and luxury high rises overlook psychedelic street murals. In Mumbai (or Bombay, as most locals still call it), you can rub elbows with bankers, diamond merchants and film producers at velvet-roped bars, then step outside to grab some of the world’s best street food and watch the sun set at Chowpatty beach, whose atmosphere turns carnival-like in the evening. Uncomfortably hot in the summer, Mumbai swings into peak travel season now, with foreigners and NRIs (an official-turned-cheeky term for nonresident Indians) showing up in droves for vacations and weddings.

Though extreme poverty blights the city, a rich cultural renaissance is under way. Contemporary art galleries are fast multiplying in Colaba, Mumbai’s southern district. Boutiques from D7 in the western suburb of Bandra down to Bombay Electric and Le Mill in South Mumbai showcase local designers who marry traditional fabrics with edgy silhouettes. The city’s namesake film industry, Bollywood, employs more than 2.5 million people and churns out 700 to 800 movies a year, nearly as many as its American counterpart.

 

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (C.S.T) or The Victoria Terminus Mumbai

  • Significance: It has been declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO.
  • Attraction: Victorian Gothic Style of Architecture
  • Built In: 1888

Located on India’s western coast, Mumbai served as a major port for the Portuguese and then the British from the 16th to 20th centuries. The colonial-style churches and Victorian Gothic buildings that dot the neighborhoods serve as a reminder of the city’s past, while a growing number of modern glass-encased high-rises (including Indian industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s much talked-about $1 billion, 27-story home) look to the future.

Once you’ve had your fill of galleries and fine dining, take a 1-hour ferry ride to visit Elephanta Island, where Hindu and Buddhist rock carvings—some dating back to the sixth century—will leave you awe-struck. Or head over to the stunning Chhatrapati Shivaji (formerly Victoria) train station and watch locals dash at rush hour. Mumbai suffers no shortage of shiny new toys, but it’s the city’s spirit that will have you hooked.

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 Madhur Jaffrey

The Foodie Madhur Jaffrey  Actress, food writer and cookbook author

Rare Eats // Britannia & Co. Parsi food is hard to find outside of private homes. Order the fish patra; and berry pulao, a rice dish made with barberries. And you must have a fresh lime soda. S S Ram Gulam Marg, opposite New Customs House, Fort, 91-22-2261-5264.

Bazaar Fruits // Crawford Market. It’s basically a market of seasonal produce. If you’re there in April or May, you should buy the Alphonso mangoes. Near Abdul Rehman Street, South Mumbai

Coco Central // Konkan Café. Beautiful fish with coconut and red chilis. Everything is shipped from the Konkan coast—they have more than a 100 coconuts shipped in every day. Taj President, 90 Cuffe Parade, vivantabytaj.com

Street Sweets // Bhendi Bazaar. This area is home to the Dawoodi Bohras, a Muslim community whose roots trace to Egypt and Yemen. You will find the most amazing sweets, such as halwa and jalebi (a sweet and crispy pretzel-like disc), in the lanes here. Near Mohammed Ali Road, Bhuleshwar

Restaurant claims to have made world's longest dosa

People carry a 32 feet (9.75m) long dosa, a south Indian crepe made for the promotion of the upcoming movie, “Quick Gun Murugun” in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

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Suketu Mehta

The Novelist Suketu Mehta Author of “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found”

Snack and Sleep // The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. The grand hotel is back on its feet after being heavily damaged in the 2008 terrorist attacks. I like to go to the Sea Lounge and watch the Parsi families trying to arrange matches between their young over tea. Apollo Bunder Road, Colaba, tajhotels.com

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Daryl Visscher/Redux Pictures for The Wall Street Journal

Taj Mahal Palace

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Buildings near Nariman Point, Mumbai

Great Greens // Shree Thaker Bhojanalay. An eating club that originally catered to migrant workers, it is now comfortably air-conditioned and still serving the greatest vegetarian meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant.31, Dadyseth Agiary Marg, Kalbadevi, 91-22-2201-1232

Strolling Grounds // Kamala Nehru Park. Everyone calls it the Hanging Gardens. When I’m jet-lagged and up at 5 a.m., I head to the top of the park, which has a fine view of the bay. Ridge Road at the top of Malabar Hill, Malabar Hill

Deep Fry // A. Ramanayak Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding. South Indian home cooking served on banana leaves. They will also let you watch as they fry terrifically crisp potato chips. LBS Market Building, 1st Floor, Matunga, 91-22-2414-2422

Words of Wonder // Strand Book Stall. You go to the Strand to look at books, talk about books, buy books. I sometimes shop for American and British novels there and have them shipped back to New York; it’s still cheaper. Sir P.M. Rd. Fort,strandbookstall.com

Maharashrian Mehdi decoration

the BEST bus in Mumbai

Local Bus Travel

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Anoushka Shankar

The Musician Sitar player, composer and daughter of Ravi Shankar

Sound Stage // Blue Frog. Surreally modern in its décor and design, it’s the only place in India that combines a music-centered auditorium with the casualness of a bar. There are international and Indian artists; usually it’s a live act followed by a DJ. Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, bluefrog.co.in

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Daryl Visscher/Redux Pictures for The Wall Street Journal

Bombay Electric

Super Sands // Juhu Beach. I try to spend a minimum of an hour here. It’s a place where you really get the vastness of the people that call the city home. Everyone lands up on the beach to have an ice cream with their family. You see quite a variety of people. West Mumbai

Star Grazing // Indigo. This restaurant is in a restored bungalow and feels really warm and swanky at the same time. You can do that usual actor spotting, but the food is actually really good. 4 Mandlik Road, Colaba,foodindigo.com

Street Style // Fashion Street. Miles and miles of market stall shopping. I tend to buy several of those simplekurtas (cotton tunics) to wear over jeans, and stop and have street food.MG Road, South Mumbai

Cheeky Chic // Bombay Electric. This shop has really unique clothes and cool accessories, kitschy Indian things. Definitely for people who like clothing with a twist. 1 Reay House, Best Marg, Colaba, bombayelectric.in

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Raymond Bickson

The Hotelier Managing Director and CEO of Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces

Culture Cool // National Centre for the Performing Arts. There is a great mix of established work and experimental, Indian and Western classical. You cannot go wrong. NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, ncpamumbai.com

Abundance of Dishes // Trishna. We bring guests here, and they are stunned by the hundreds of items on the menu. The garlic-butter king crabs are the reason people return again and again. Birla Mansion, Sai Baba Marg (next to Commerce House), Fort, 91-22-2270-3213

Old Worlds // Phillips Antiques. I love to gaze at their beautiful treasures and maps, and check out any new collectibles. From carved cupboards to Gauri heads to oil lamps, it’s an authentic slice of the past. Madam Cama Road (opposite Regal Cinema), Colaba, phillipsantiques.com

Snack Attack // Camy Wafers. My daughters and I just love the fresh potato chips from this Colaba snack shop. 5-6 Oxford House (off Colaba Causeway), Colaba, 91-22-2282-8430

Restau-Disco // Shiro. This restaurant is a wonderful oasis in midtown. Friday night with music from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s is great fun. And the food is delicious.Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, shiro.co.in

Plus Don’t Miss…

Elco Pani Puri Center A legendarypani puri (crispy fried canapés) street stall that went brick and mortar. elcocateringservices.com //

Forest Essentials The place to load up on handmade soaps and creams, many of them laced with sandalwood, rose andmogra (a type of jasmine).forestessentialsindia.com //

Ahilaya A favorite for silk and cotton tunics in pastel hues. 91-22-2202-4053

Natural Ice Cream A must for the seasonal fruit-loaded ice creams likesitaphal (custard apple) and chikoo (sapota). naturalicecreams.in 

Taj Mahal, Agra(India) promises more amenities for Tourists


Agra promises more amenities for tourists

 
By TBM Staff | Mumbai Dt. 13th Aug. 2011
 
Agra’s tourism industry is preparing for the tourist season beginning September 1, 2011 by launching luxury buses, upgrading monuments and even recruiting English-speaking policemen – all of which is expected to improve the appeal of the city of the Taj Mahal, according to an IANS report. Latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism for the financial year ended March 31, 2011, confirm Agra is at the top position among tourist destinations in India. The Taj Mahal earned around Rs 20 crore (USD 4.5 million) from sale of entrance tickets alone. It topped the list of Archaeological Survey of India’s Agra circle monuments with 4.18 million Indian and 624,000 foreign tourists visiting it last year.

“Time has come to consolidate the gains and not fritter away the advantages, through increased cooperation and coordination among various government agencies and the local industry,” said Rajiv Tiwari, a senior tourism industry leader.

District authorities in cooperation with the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department have finalised a number of schemes that would broadbase facilities for visitors. Clearly, the flow of tourists has increased which is good for the city, said Rakesh Chauhan, President of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association. “One of the measures we are all set to launch this independence day is running a local tourist bus service,” Amrit Abhijat, Divisional Commissioner, said.

Visitors will now be able to board luxurious air-conditioned specially done-up Marco Polo buses, for a tour of the city from the Agra Cantt railway station. Four buses will take the tourists to Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, according to Neeraj Saxena, Regional Manager of the state roadways. Buses will have women conductors and a woman constable. The buses were being given a trendy look compatible with Mughal heritage, Saxena said. Tourist guides and brochures would be provided in the buses for convenience. LCD screens will provide relevant information about the monuments.

“Four villages in the district have been given ‘Tourist Village’ status to enable tourists to see our rural culture from a closer angle,” the commissioner said.
Government departments have been asked to coordinate and provide amenities for tourists and streamline infrastructure to attract tourists to these villages.

Facilities at Bateshwar Ghats are being upgraded and better connectivity is being provided. Recently the Yamuna Aarti like in Haridwar and Varanasi was started at Batehshwar, 70 km from the city.

The state tourism department is already working on the Heritage Walk project which will enable tourists to witness the grandeur of the heritage city on foot, Abhijat said.

Aseem Arun, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) has unveiled a package of police reforms that will not only increase the visibility of cops but also quicken their response. Cops on sleek bikes, speaking flawless English, with the latest gadgetry will hopefully be seen around monuments to instil a sense of confidence in tourists.
Funds from entrance tickets to various monuments collected by the Agra Development Authority would be used to give a makeover to the police image. The Tourist Thana on Fatehabad road, a special police station for registering the complaints of tourists, is being given a new look. The DIG has taken the initiative to provide five brand new cars which will patrol the monuments. The selection process for inducting smart English-knowing cops has begun.

To add to the sense of security, Arun has ordered the posting of horse-mounted cops around the monuments. Women cops on scooties are already on the move keeping an eye on eve-teasers. Police teams are being provided with latest state-of-the-art gadgets, belts, night vision cameras and laser beams.

A proposal to print helpline numbers on entrance tickets to various monuments has been green-signalled. Providing helpline numbers would better address the grievances of tourists, said Sandip Arora, hotelier.

 

Jimmy Rawal
CEO
Adler Tours & Safaris

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