Shravya Karki explores Mumbai as a destination. Here's his travel diary.
Nestled below the Western Ghats of the Indian Peninsula and touching the coasts of the Arabian Sea, the bustling city of Mumbai—with its rich history, grandeur and burgeoning economic progress— has so much to offer. Although my visit to Mumbai was solely for the purpose of medical tourism, my visit happened to collide with the holiday season and I did get some time to venture of for some sightseeing.
A two-hour and ten-minute flight from Kathmandu, I landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji airport in the evening. One of the world’s busiest airports, with its vibrant atmosphere, chic interior, luxury duty-free stores, and hustle and bustle of people, is enough to get just anyone excited.
The day I arrived at Mumbai was Christmas Day, I met up with my mother—who had already been there for a few days before me—and we decided to head south over to Mumbai’s downtown, Colaba Causeway for dinner. On our way south, we passed through the Mumbai's iconic Worli Sea Link that gives a great view of the city's downtown skyline. Many say that Mumbai's downtown skyline closely resembles that of New York City, and having been to New York myself, I completely agree. Crossing the Worli Sea Link to downtown Mumbai is surprisingly similar to crossing the Brooklyn Bridge over to downtown Manhattan. And of course, if the weather is in your favour, you get a glimpse of a spectacular vista of the city skyline—just like New York.
Before heading to a restaurant, we even decided to get a sight of the city's thriving street shopping scene. While my mom picked up some pretty beads, I decided to get a few cheap phone accessories and cute keychains for myself.
We had dinner at Leopold Café, a century-old restaurant, which was also one of the first sites attacked during 2008 Mumbai attacks; the bullet holes can still be seen in this historical landmark. The café was decorated with pretty lights, buzzing with western music, and was bustling with people; families, friends, and tourists, all here to celebrate Christmas at one of the most happening eateries in the city. After trying numerous fancy drinks and scrumptious Indian food, we decided to call it a day.
I spent most of my second and third day at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Medical Institute, where I resided. The time spent at the hospital was never boring, as even in a place like a hospital, there was a lot to do. The place was sprawled with cafés, stores, and even spa to rejuvenate oneself. The hospitals have been able to bring a lot of international patients with its advancements.
For day four, we decided to visit the Siddhivinayak temple, Mumbai's richest and most popular temple. The beautiful dome-shaped shikhara temple is a great example of nineteenth-century Mumbai's architectural finesse. Siddhivinayak is said to be the 'Ganesha who grants our wishes', and for that reason, the shrine is frequented by people across India, including famous Indian politicians and big shot actors of Bollywood. After a darshan with the enchanting saffron idol of Lord Ganesha, the temple's pandit gave us modaks(a popular Indian sweet) as prasad, which was so delicious that we decided to pack a whole box to take back with us. After exiting the temple we decided to have Mumbai's famous Vada Pav from the street vendors nearby.
We planned to visit the High Street Phoenix and the Palladium next. These malls are located close together and are most certainly every Indian shopper's go-to luxury shopping destination. On my way to the mall I passed by the growing metropolis' breathtaking skyscrapers, ongoing development projects, Mahalaxmi racecourse, and I even got a glimpse of the famous Haji Ali Dargah. The Haji Ali mosque and tomb(dargah)—located in an islet off the coast of Mumbai is a beautiful example of Indo-Islamic architecture with a rich history.
After reaching the mall, our ultimate retail therapy began. The malls feature an array of high-end fashion brands and designers and coming from Nepal, where there is only a limited number of luxury brands, Indian cities are the closest place to get some satisfying shopping done. From premium designer brands like Burberry and Gucci to fast fashion retailers like Zara and H&M—the malls have it all.
In the evening we decided to dine at the AB Celestial, a ship on the coasts of Worli, offering a fine dining venue; supposedly, it was the talk of the town. Although the stench of the Arabian Sea was difficult to ignore at first, it gets better once you are inside the ship. But all was forgiven after a beautiful nighttime panorama of the Mumbai downtown.
On our fifth day, we decided to venture off to Bandra, the lavish locale home to most of the influential personalities of Indian cinema, politics, and cricket. We shopped at Hill road, walked in the Bandstand esplanades, and decided to lunch at Barbeque Nation. Barbeque Nation is most certainly an all-you-can-eat venue as the waiters continuously supply you with a range of griddle sticks and a delectable buffet. For dinner, we were able to get a 10 o'clock reservation at Olive Bar and Kitchen. The restaurant is frequented by various influential celebrities, so if you're lucky enough, you might get the chance to meet a few of your favourite stars!
Our final day at Mumbai was New Year's Eve, and that night we first went to Mount Mary's Church at Bandra, which had been attractively lit up and had a lively night market being hosted. From there we decided to hop into Bandra's socials, where we had a great time with the friendly locals.
All in all, even though my trip to Mumbai was unplanned, Mumbai proved to be a great place for me as a tourist to enjoy once again. The best part about Mumbai is that the place has something for everyone and for just every budget. Being in close proximity to Nepal, it is a destination one should definitely visit.
P.S. If you're ever in Mumbai, make sure you don't miss out on the thrilling rickshaw rides!
How to get there from Kathmandu
Jet Airways flies twice daily, and Nepal Airlines operates three flights a week from Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
Shravya Singh Karki is a content writer at Nepal Traveller. Along with being an avid traveller, he enjoys spending his free time organising and participating in community activities and learning new things