You’ve just docked at Ballard Pier in Mumbai, India and are ready to explore all of the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that this vibrant and eclectic city has to offer you. Are you ready? Navigating the city can feel overwhelming for someone who has never been before, but we’ve got a handy guide to exploring Mumbai on a cruise so you can explore with confidence!
Once you’ve disembarked at Ballard Pier, hop in the nearest cab (trust us, they are just as safe and cheaper than taking an Uber, although an Uber is also an option) and take that ten-minute drive to the center of the city and the Taj Hotel at the Gateway of India.
Breakfast in Mumbai
The Taj Hotel is a great place to decamp and get yourself prepared for an excursion into this vibrant metropolis. Grabbing a quick bite to eat at one of the Taj’s many five star restaurants is always an option, however, for more adventurous souls, you can skip the fanfare of the Taj Hotel altogether and begin your day by grabbing a coffee and a bite to eat at one of Colaba’s historic cafe’s: the Leopold Cafe.
Why the Leopold Cafe? It is of historical significance to Mumbai as it was founded in 1871 by Iranis or the Zoroastrians that came to Mumbai and was originally a sort of “oil depot”. Later on, during the twentieth century, it became a popular hangout spot for foreigners and ex-pats alike who preferred the old-style canteen layout of the spot vibing with their more bohemian way of life.
If you’re working up a sweat in the sweltering India sun, then you need to do is walk outside and find anyone of the coconut vendors that can chop the top off a fresh coconut for some good ole’ fashioned coconut water. It’s also a recommended beverage for those of you that partied a little too hard on the ship the night before or if you’re dehydrated after a day of exploring the city. Have a few!
Ok so, coconut in hand. It’s time to hop into a cab and take the 15-minute drive down to Mani Bhavan, a significant location for one of the world’s most iconic figures: Mahatma Gandhi.
Mani Bhavan, located in Mumbai’s Gamdevi precinct, played an extremely important role in Gandhi’s Satyagraha or civil resistance movement. Four floors of historical artifacts and artistic works can be found in this museum turned mansion culminating with Gandhi’s room at the top floor where you can find the spinning wheel he used during these times. The room itself was once visited by former US President Barack Obama who came to pay his respects.
Visiting Mani Bhavan is quite an intense and somber yet intellectually fulfilling experience. You’ll most likely want to get out of the mansion, get a breath of fresh air, and grab a snack or cool off with a sweet treat. Hop into the nearest cab or be the true adventurer that you were born to be and grab a rickshaw and head uptown.
If you got a taste for old Mumbai at the Leopold Cafe, now’s the time to get a taste of what the new generation is coming up with. One such place that stands out is a little hole in the wall dessert and restaurant spot called Bomberry. Known for its world-famous Strawberry Cream and assortment of sandwiches and snacks, it offers visitors a chance to cool off and regroup before heading back out into the bustling city.
More to Do in Mumbai
Since you only have one day to take on the city, you have a few options based on your preferences.
Option 1: Visitors that are more inclined to taking photographs can visit the Hanging Gardens located at the top of Mumbai’s Malabar Hill. These gardens are terraced with several gardens and, at the peak, provide incredible views of Marine Drive (aka the Queen’s Necklace) for some majestic vista shots. Additionally, you can find some incredibly unique structures in the gardens. Well, unique might be an understatement. Have you ever heard of “The Old Lady That Lived In A Shoe”? Yeah, apparently her house is here. Seriously. Inside the Kamala Nehru portion of the park, you can find the structure of a giant shoe that was inspired by the nursery rhyme.
Option 2: If you aren’t interested in checking out gardens at the top of the hill, you can always hop on a cab or rickshaw and head back towards Colaba where you can…drumroll, please…SHOP! Yes. Shop to your heart’s content as Mumbai contains one of the entire planet’s greatest shopping districts: The Colaba Causeway.
Thousands of vendors line the streets while the larger boutique fashion labels can be found inside of building storefronts. If you are a true fashionista, you can come here to browse or buy from top designers. Most people will praise the shop “Fab India”. While it does have modern Indian fashion that is designed to appeal to Europeans and North Americans, a word of warning. The material you get at that shop is incredibly overpriced but at the end of the day, beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder.
Street Food in Mumbai
Ok, so those are a few options for after your trip to Mani Bhavan. If your group did split up, try meeting back up in Colaba and grabbing a drink at the Woodside Inn, or, again if you are bringing that true adventurer out, check out Gokul, a favorite for cab drivers.
What about the authentic Indian food found on the side streets? While they do look good, they are a bit of a risk. If you really want to get your Indian culinary cuisine on, try going to Swati Snacks near Bomberry for lunch. They provide extremely high-quality Indian meals at a decent price. I’m talking about traditional guava-potato stews that they do not make anywhere in North America. Plus they’ve been around for the better part of fifty years so they are an established landmark of the area.
So there you go, a day-long trip to Mumbai completed. You are ready now to head back to Ballard Pier after having experienced a city rich in culture, history, and vision.
Have you cruised to Mumbai? Let us know your experience in the comments below!