See Mumbai like a local
Ever wondered how life in one of the busiest cities in the world could be? Let’s see the city of Mumbai like a local would see. Mumbai ranks as the largest city in India and one of the 10 largest cities in the world. With a population of over 20 million people, it outruns the national capital of New Delhi.
Undoubtedly, the commercial capital of India, Mumbai boasts being home to some of the costliest real estate in the world, the Bombay Stock Exchange and of course, the world-famous multi-million dollar movie industry, Bollywood. There is a 3 days tour which covers the Bollywood Studio.
But irrespective of all its chaos, show and bling, there is another face of Mumbai, which most locals are familiar with. So let’s get out of our comfort zone and experience unadulterated Mumbai.
1. Travel in Local Trains
There is a common agreement upon the fact that travelling in Mumbai local train is an acquired talent. However, it’s not so difficult to learn this talent. Just make your way into the mob getting in and out of the trains and the mob will do the rest of the job for you during rush hours. Also, any traces of personal space requirements are to be forgotten during rush hours. There literally won’t be room for you to even to reach for your phone and answer a call.
But undoubtedly, the Mumbai local trains are the fastest and cheapest way to commute around the city. For example, for the longest ride from Churchgate to Virar, a second-class ticket will cost Rupees 15, i.e., about $0.21. That’s right, Mumbai ranks among the cheapest public transport in the world for this very reason.
A ride on one of Mumbai’s local trains and being amongst those thousands of people who make numerous journeys as a part of their daily living will definitely connect you to Mumbai’s soul.
Note: Keep in mind that there are two types of local trains on any given route, Fast and Slow. That has nothing to do with their speed, its just that Fast trains have fewer stops and Slow trains halt at all stations in the way, and all stations have dedicated Fast and Slow train platforms which could change with the last minute announcement. Just to be on the safe side, if you are visiting Mumbai for the first time and not well versed with the local train system, board a Slow train as they are less crowded and less popular with daily commuters.
2. Ride an Auto Rickshaw (tuk-tuk)
While taxis are available all around the city, auto-rickshaws are limited to run only till suburb limits. In downtown Mumbai, you will only see taxis running. Take a ride in one of the auto-rickshaws when you get a chance. It’s fun riding them when the drivers manoeuvre them through narrow alleys and spaces. Also be prepared to be scammed if you are a foreigner. Insist as much as you can to operate the meter as they might quote any random amount, And only board the rickshaw if you are confident on the directions as they might take you all around Mumbai city & ensure the meter nothing less than $40-50.
3. Visit Gateway of India
Built to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder on their visit to India in 1911, later used as a symbolic landing spot for Viceroys of British India and Governors of Mumbai, the Gateway of India is by far the most visited tourist attractions of the city.
Overlooking the Arabian Sea and with the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotels in the backdrop, the Gateway of India stands tall symbolising the city’s spirit. Take time to walk around the promenade and the lanes behind the Taj Mahal Palace hotel which has a lot of local eateries serving some sumptuous food which will give your taste buds a run for the money.
How to get there – Get off at the last stop of Western or Central Line trains i.e., Churchgate or CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and get a taxi or UBER to take you there. The taxi ride shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes.
4. Take a ferry ride to the Elephanta Caves
When at the Gateway of India, time permitting you can take a 1-hour ferry ride to the Elephanta Caves, one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. At the left side of the Gateway of India is a ferry boarding station. Hard to miss, buy return ferry tickets and look for people shouting ELEPHANTAAAA!!! at the top of their voice, these guys will guide you to the ferry heading to Elephanta caves and you pay onboard. Its a good photo opportunity after the ferry departs as it is time for a sea view of the city behind you. The Ferry drops people at a jetty from where it is about 1 km/0.62 mile walk and 120 steps climb to the caves. Ensure to know what time is the last ferry as it’s not ideal to spend the night with monkeys on an island.
The caves have been carved out of solid rock and depict Hindu and Buddhist iconography dating back to 5th and 9th century A.D.
5. Get a night shot of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
When in south Mumbai, one must get a night shot of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus as the colourful lights to add an extra show to the historic structure built in 1887 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria. Initially named the Victoria Terminus, it was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1996 in honour of Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire.
6. Visit Haji Ali Dargah
The Haji Ali Dargah(Tomb) was built in the year 1431 in the memory of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a wealthy Muslim merchant hailing from Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan, who gave up all his worldly possessions before making his pilgrimage to Mecca.
Located in the Worli bay, the tomb sits in a tiny islet about 500 meters off the coast and is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. This shrine sees a high turn up of pilgrims during weekends and due to the low elevation of the causeway, gets disconnected from the mainland during high tides which submerge the causeway. So if you get stuck, just be patient till the tides get low.
How to get there – Get off at Mahalaxmi Station on Western line local train service and take a quick taxi or UBER ride to Haji Ali Dargah.
7. Visit Mahalaxmi Temple
Mahalaxmi temple is one of the most famous temples in Mumbai. Built-in 1831 by Dhakji Dadaji, a Hindu merchant, its a stone’s throw away from Haji Ali Dargah. Once inside the temple campus, Hindus believe one must go around the temple and at the back side of the temple, pilgrims stick coins to a wall as a part of an ancient belief that their wishes will be granted if the coin stays stuck to the wall.
HeadsUp: The temple can be crowded on a weekend & certain days of the week. There are tons of hawkers at the beginning of the temples selling flowers, candles, etc. These hawkers can get very pushy with regards to selling & you will also find priests around who offer special prayers with a special price & donations.
8. Take a tour of the Mumbai Slums
Ever read the book Shantaram or seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, that’s exactly how Mumbai slums are. Narrow lanes, extremely congested spaces and the whole space seem like a maze. After all, Mumbai is home to the largest slum in Asia. If you are brave enough and very good with your directional sense, enter the slums yourself to experience life there. But my personal recommendation would be, to be on a SAFER SIDE & BOOK a TOUR.
9. Indulge in the street food districts of Girgaum Chowpatty and Juhu Chowpatty
Girgaum Chaopatty is known for its Indian Street food. The word Chowpatty usually refers to a beach in the local language. Unlike other beaches around the world, don’t expect blue waters and people sunbathing, but there will be plenty of food options at our beaches. Indulge in all you can and go frenzy.
How to get there – To get to Girgaum Chowpatty, get off at Charni Road Station on the Western Line Local Trains and its a walkable distance from there. To get to Juhu Chowpatty, one must get off at Vile Parle Station on the Western Line and get an UBER or auto-rickshaw ride to Juhu Chowpatty.
10. Take a walk at the Marine Drive Promenade
The Mumbai marine drive, Queens Necklace, is a special attraction as it is the longest curved promenade in the country and an aerial view depicts a necklace, thus the name Queen’s Necklace. It is very famous with the locals as they relax here and enjoy the cool sea breeze. Starting at Girgaum Chowpatty and ending at Nariman Point, this 3.6 km promenade is also one of the must visits.
11. Enjoy the Nightlife
Mumbai is a city that never sleeps. From eateries to nightclubs, there is always something to keep you engaged. Do get to experience the nightlife when there. Check local listings and find the nightclub that suits you as there are plenty of new places that come up every now and then.
If you are concerned about the safety or about getting lost in the crowd or worried about getting ripped off by the auto rickshaws then just BOOK A TOUR & see most of these in one day.
We hope you have a lovely time in the City of Mumbai. Please share your experience your comments your pictures below or #taletrips. We would love to be a part of your experience through pictures. To stay updated with our latest post subscribe & follow or follow us on any of the below social media links. Safe travels.