What can you do differently in Mumbai?

Things to do in Mumbai - Family travel

Everyone of us would have read about plenty of things to do in Mumbai and would have done it religiously. Being a diehard fan of Mumbai, I have aplenty of things to share about the places to visit and its significance. Mumbai is a historic city and filled with vibrant places and unlimited possibilities to keep yourself engaged. Above all, it is the 2nd most populous city in the country next to New Delhi, as well as the 7th most populous city in the World!

Here’s a list of things which you could see and enjoy for a unique Mumbai experience,

#1 Top things to do in Mumbai – History at Kanheri Caves

Get ready to step into the Historic Buddhist Civilization. Dating back to 1st century BCE, the Kanheri caves are among the oldest and was the epicenter of the civilization in the Konkan region. Though it is hard to believe, it is a fact that more than 75% of the total Buddhist population of India live in Maharashtra!

It comprises of 109 caves which are built between 1st century BC and 1100 AD. It came into prominence as an important Buddhist settlement by 300 AD.

Kanheri Caves entrance
Cave 3 – The Chaitya cave which is the most important of the all caves

The larger caves are for worship and contains Buddhist sculptures and rock-cut stupas. The smaller caves are mainly for living, studying and meditation purposes. All the caves have a distinct plinth (a stone bed) which portrays that the caves are settlement area of the Buddhists. In addition, the inscriptions on the caves are still legible and people are interested in studying those. The entry costs INR 25 for an adults and for a foreigner, it is INR 200 (approx. USD 3).

#2 Top things to do in Mumbai – Jungle Safari at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

The National Park is located at the heart of the Mumbai Suburbs and it is makes Mumbai the most Eco-friendly cosmopolitan city in India. Entry to the National park costs INR 58 per adult and INR 31 for kids. However, the entry for foreigners costs INR 200 (approx. USD 3). The park is spread over 87 sq.km (around 34 sq. miles) and is mostly used by the public for a morning jog and picnic with family.

Spotted deer at Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Spotted Deer (Chital) at Sanjay Gandhi National Park

The Safari at the park costs INR 77 for an adult and INR 31 for a Kid. Moreover, there are plenty of other activities to do such as visiting the mini zoo and recreational boating. Alternatively, you could hire a bicycle and tour the park. If you are bringing your own vehicle, it costs INR 195 for car and INR 50 for two wheeler.

#3 Top things to do in Mumbai – Visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites

As you all know, we have an opportunity to witness 3 out of the 31 UNESCO World heritages sites of India in Mumbai. My favorite is the Elephanta caves. The remaining being the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai Railway Station) and the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles.

Ferry ride to elephanta caves
view from ferry – en route to Elephanta Caves

1. Elephanta Caves – The trip to Elephanta caves itself is a an awesome experience. Starting from the gate way of India, a ferry to Elephanta caves takes 45 min and INR 150 (USD 2). Further, you can either walk from there to the base or take the toy train to reach there. From the base, it takes around 30 minutes to reach the caves and enjoy the views and Buddhist sculptures.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Credits: Anoop Ravi)

2. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Built in 1887, the monument, which serves as a Railway station is one of the oldest Art Deco listed under UNESCO. Moreover, the structure reflects the fusion of Victorian Gothic architecture and the Indian architecture. Being the headquarters of the Central Indian Railway, it is one the busiest railway station of India.

The Victorian Gothic Art - The Mumbai High Court
Victorian Gothic Art – The Mumbai High Court (Source)

3. The Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles – A total of 94 buildings are listed under the UNESCO world Heritage. In short, the best way to enjoy the Art is to be in the Oval Maidan of South Mumbai. The Oval Maidan was also known as the Esplanade during the British Era. The Eros Cinema, Rajabhai Clock Tower, The High court and the University of Mumbai are some of the notable Arts to be visited.

4. Go Garden Hopping!

You wouldn’t have thought about a Metropolitan city with a plenty of gardens. But, Mumbai is an exception which is surrounded by a lot of Greenery as well as has gardens within the city. The top destinations for a perfect evening picnic within the city are Hanging gardens (Malabar Hill) and the Powai Garden. Also, the Mahakali Caves and the Victoria Garden (within Byculla Zoo) are good spots too.

If you would like to venture a few kilometers from the city, then Chota Kashmir in Goregoan is good place which has an option for leisure boating too. Finally, if you need a more peaceful and more natural experience, Strolling in Sanjay Gandhi National Park would be the option for you.

5. Kids Day out – Happiness is when entire family is Happy!

There are a plenty of options for keeping the Kids engaged. I am a bit old fashioned and always feel that kids should get the opportunity to learn while they play. Taking my kid to the Zoo once a month satisfies her learning curve. Though it is repetitive, they have something to learn every visit. The Byculla Zoo in South Mumbai has everything in it. It has a crocodile pond, Hippopotamus and even Penguin enclosure which is unique to a Zoo.

Some other major attractions for Kids are the Snow World / Snow Kingdom which is a good experience (upto -8 C) for the Adults as well. To be on safer side, get some warm clothes and jackets for your kid to avoid any disappointment due to non-availability of right size of clothes at the snow park. An Indoor theme park, KidZania in RCity Mall is a good option too. Kids do role play activities in custom built city scaled down for kids and has an economy with its own custom currency as well.

Some of the best water theme parks around Mumbai are Tikuji-ni-wadi in Thane, Essel world in Gorai and Water Kingdom in Boriwali.

6. Art Lover? – How about Museum Hopping?

When it comes to Art, culture and Heritage conservation, Mumbai comes as a very special place with a long list of museums. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is among the best in India with the Museum winning awards from UNESCO for cultural Heritage. The artifacts of the Indus valley civilization , the coin museum and Miniature paintings are some outstanding exhibits in the Museum. There is also a Kids Museum with some unique activities and knowledge sharing for Kids.

Some of the Museums to visit on your trip,
1. Mani Bhavan (where Mahatma Gandhi lived),
2. Nehru Center (which is a Planetarium)
3. Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum (Formerly known as Victoria and Albert Museum)
4. National Gallery of Modern Art (which nurtures Indian Art)
5. CST Heritage Gallery & Railway Museum and
6. B.E.S.T Museum

Also, as a special mention, visiting the Red Carpet Wax Museum is a unique experience too.

7. Get yourself certified in SCUBA Diving

Have you ever wondered that you should have had a PADI certificate before going to some of the best beach destinations? And you know how costly and time consuming to get SCUBA courses in your vacation (like in Andaman, Goa, etc.). Instead you can spend your weekends to get a PADI diver certification in Mumbai itself and be well prepared for your vacations. DIVEIndia located near Vashi in Navi Mumbai and Orca Dive club near Worli are good places to get your certification.

8. My personal favorite thing to do – Explore the Hidden and least polluted Beaches of Mumbai

When you think of the Mumbai Beaches, the beaches which comes to our mind are the famous one, Juhu and Chowpatty. You have to be daring to get your body or at least your legs in those water. Such is the level of pollution in those beaches. On the positive side, there are some beaches in Mumbai in which you can take a dip without worrying on the side effects.

Madh Island beach is one such cleanest and less polluted beaches of Mumbai. It is surrounded my mangroves and though swimming is prohibited, you could enjoy strolling along the beach and its mini islands. Erangal Beach, Uttan Beach, Aksa Beach, Gorai and Versova Beach are a few others with relatively less pollution. If you could venture out of the suburbs, the coastal areas of Virar and Kalamb and Uran are good peaceful spots.

9. Explore the outskirts of Mumbai

There are a plenty of options for day trip or a weekend getaway from Mumbai. A trip to Alibag is one of my favorites. Either you can reach the place by car in 3.5 hours or you could take a ferry from Gate way of India (2 hour ferry ride). Firstly, It has some of the best beaches in the region and secondly, you could enjoy the mouth watery seafood.

In additon, below are some suggestion for Day trips from Mumbai,
1. Day trip to Mahim and Kelwa – which is around 3 hour drive from Mumbai gives you the best seaside close to Mumbai.
2. Tungareshwar waterfalls and the Wildlife sanctuary
3. Pelhar Dam
4. Karnala Bird Sanctuary.

Moreover, below are some of my suggestions for a weekend getaway from Mumbai,
1. A weekend trip to Silvassa (Headquarters of the Union territory, Dadar and Nagar Haveli) is a unique experience.
2. Lonavala & Khandala
3. Matheran
4. paragliding in Kamshet
5. Nashik wine tasting tour
6. Bhandardara
7. Amboli falls.

10. Culinary Treats! Let your taste buds do the talking

Mumbai is a heaven for food lovers. Being a cosmopolitan city with too many cultures, I would say Mumbai is a Hot pot of inter-cultural delicacies. Below are my suggested must eat food stuff when you are in Mumbai.

1. Mughlai food

Naan varieties, chicken tikka masala, Butter chicken, Tandoori specialities, desserts and many more,
1. Gulshan – E- Iran: 15, Corner Of MRA Marg, Musafir Khana Road, Crawford Market, Mumbai CST Area, Mumbai
2. Hotel Noorani – 5 D, Tardeo Road, Haji Ali Circle, Mumbai
3. Delhi Zaika – Chapra Hotel, Shop No 1/A, MS Ali Road, Near Nishat Cinema, Grant Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400008

2. Mumbai Local Food / Street Food

An evening snack like – Vada Pav, Misal Pav, Samosas, Bhel Puri, Pani Puri, Chaat, Dabeli, Rolls and Frankies, Sandwiches, farsans and bakery items
1. B.Merwan & Co – Shop No. 1 Station East 2, Alibhai Premji Rd, Opposite, Grant Road East, Bharat Nagar, Grant Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400036
2. Sardar Pav Bhaji – 166-A, Tardeo Road, Junction, Janata Nagar, Tardeo, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400034
3. Juhu and Chowpatty Beach stalls for Bhel Puri and Chaat food
4. Pratap Da Dhaba – Shop No. 30/31, Link Plaza, Next To Punjab & Maharashtra Bank, Oshiwara, Andheri West, Mumbai, Maharashtra
5. Aaron’s Bake N Brew – Shop No 5, Lourdes Heritage Tower, Building, Malad – Marve Rd, opp. Orlem Church, Malad, Orlem, Lourdes Colony, Malad West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400064
6. Bademiya (Kebabs and Rolls) – Tulloch Rd, Behind Hotel Taj Mahal, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400039
7. Milan Corner for Fast Food – Shop No.4 & 5, Mahavir Darshan Bldg., RDP Road Number 1, Kandivali West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400067

3. Burgers, Pizzas and Continental

1. Jimis Burger – Andheri, Malad and Vashi
2. Between Breads – Shop No. 2 , Kalpitam Apartments, 16th Road, Pali Village, Khar West, Near Hawaiian Shack, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
3. Mama Mia – Zeba Apartments, Ground floor opposite Mark’s and Spencer, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
4. Yoko Sizzlers – 8/9, Oshiwara Link Plaza Near Oshiwara Police Station, New, New Link Rd, Oshiwara, Jogeshwari, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400104

Finally, don’t limit yourself to above restaurants and Food joints. Exploring food joints in Mumbai is like a SCUBA diver in sea. You always find something interesting every time you venture out. Do enjoy and comment back with your opinion!

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