Of all the cities in the world, Mumbai perhaps, has the most colorful of contradictions to offer. In one moment it is the most crowded of cities, and in the next, an oasis of calm. The dismal poverty sits encased by the most astonishing wealth and luxury. There is nothing that Mumbai does not have for an ardent traveler. Yet this most mesmerizing of cities requires you to dig deep to find these gems.
Let me, however, save you some effort. Following are a few of Mumbai’s hidden intrigues.
1. Berry Pulao and Dhansaak at Britannia and Co. at Ballard Estate
Brittania & Co at Ballard Estate in South Mumbai, as if sits with half-shut lazy eyes, over a slowly cooking pot of Berry Pulao and Dhaansaak, frozen in time, as Mumbai moves from one generation to the next. What is Mumbai without the food of Mumbai? Numerous peoples from her long and colorful history have filled the city with the aroma of their kitchens.
Parsi cuisine is truly Mumbai’s signature. One because it is rare to find it anywhere else, and two, in many ways it brings together elements from all the other traditions from Mumbai’s many subcultures. The Restaurant has a very authentic Parsi business vibe, enjoyable, and no-nonsense and peppered up with pictures of Mumbai’s iconic history, a small delectable menu, and excellent customer service. Overall, the cuisine the ambience and the phenomenon of digging your fingers in warm Parsi food on a hot Mumbai afternoon is a truly representative experience of Mumbai.
2. Shopping at the Colaba Causeway, Colaba
I can guarantee your trip to Mumbai cannot be complete without a leisurely stroll through Colaba. The causeway houses some of Mumbai’s most iconic buildings when India was being brought to terms with the Modern world, and Mumbai was spearheading the country’s economic development. And even if you are not a student of history and architecture, Colaba is where Mumbai’s youth shows up, looking for all kinds of curios, street fashion, fancy designer boutiques, food, or simply to pass around a cold one over a table in a restaurant and chatter away the hot Mumbai days.
Do practice your haggling however before you come here, you may find some dirt cheap “antiques”, which may not be that easy to find elsewhere. And gateway of India is just a walk away too, so you can make a day-long trip, literally just soaking in the sights of Mumbai.
3. Shop for some greens at the Lushgreen Nursery in Vile Parle
In the busy Irla market, is hidden a breath of fresh air, in the most literal sense of the word. Tucked safely behind a plastic store is Lushgreen. A gigantic nursery that offers the widest variety of plants that I have ever seen in any urban nursery. From edible plants for your kitchen garden to aromatic medicinal plants that you could grow in a pot in your home, Lushgreen offers everything. More than anything, what make it special is the services and the staff.
Not only can you spend hours browsing through their range of plants and herbs, but there is someone always available to answer a quick question or help with a suggestion. So if you are looking for a leisurely stroll through a well-curated Nursery, or to add some green to your living or work space do visit Lushgreen. Other than home delivering the plants Lushgreen also has a small but active community of professional gardeners or Maalis you could hire for a weekly visit to your home.
4. Experience Serenity in Chhota Kashmir in Arrey Colony, Goregaon
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the big city lies a tranquil lake surrounded by luxuriant earthy greens that will instantly transport you to Kashmir. Welcome to Mumbai’s Chhota Kashmir, a wide natural sanctuary that is loved by the locals and visitors alike. The four-acre wide Kashmir Lake is dotted with colorful boats for the major part of the day and can be a truly relaxing experience in its own right too.
Hundreds of street food vendors and a few casual dining restaurants should take care of your pangs of hunger, but if you intend to have an old worldly picnic with home cooked food, and a wicker basket, Chhota Kashmir offers plenty of space for that too. Chhota Kashmir is a perfect spot for a day out with family and loved ones if you are not feeling too adventurous.
5. Have an adventurous day out at Pandavkada Falls, Navi Mumbai
If you are feeling a little uppity and adventurous on a Monsoon weekend in Mumbai, but do not have a lot of time for a long travel, Pandavkada falls in Khargar is the place for you. The place comes alive during monsoons with the gushing noise of the hundred meter high waterfall and the happy sounds of tourists. Much lesser known, you will find the waterfall, the reservoir and the surrounding area much cleaner, and untouched, compared to other places in the big city.
However, since it isn’t a fully developed tourist spot, so you may not have many options for snacking and lodging etc. In any case if you plan your visit like a day-long trip, carry enough food and drinks, and stay safe, you can have a memorable picnic right in your own city.
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