Mumbai is a city like no other. It’s old, it’s new, it’s traditional, it’s modern, it’s rich, it’s poor! It’s definitely one of our favourite places in the entire world. Why you ask? Cause there is so much to explore! Not just the outstanding Victorian and Art Deco architecture or the fantastic sea promenades. There is so much more to this city than the Gateway of India or Marine Lines! So after you have checked off all our recommendations for a regular (but nonetheless super fun) sightseeing program and you have some time left in the city try one of the following five experiences off the beaten tourist path:
Don’t worry, we are not sending you to a Zoo. As unbelievable as it may sound but the migratory birds flock to the city every winter and are seen in the wetlands around the Thane creek. Little pink spots in the gray and brown surroundings – you can trust your eyes! To observe large groups of the colourful birds, there are several places you can visit along the creek which was declared a wildlife sanctuary with an area of 1,690 ha in 2015. One is the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Center Airoli. You can first visit the fascinating exhibition on mangroves and the aquatic life found on the coast as well as on the marine biodiversity. Afterwards walk towards the bordering mangroves to watch the birds.
How to get there: This is a longer journey! First head to Dadar on the western railway, then change onto the central railway and head towards Thane. Get off in Nahur and take a rickshaw across the creek to the centre.
2. Vasai Fort
Ok, it’s technically not Mumbai anymore since Vasai belongs to another city district. And it’s far! But it’s not difficult to reach. And the place is worth it anytime! Let us explain. Vasai used to be the headquarters of Portuguese rule for all regions north of Goa. The fort and the surrounding areas were once a thriving city in the 16th and 17th century and especially a religious and military stronghold. What remains are some ruins that, though barely maintained or conserved, give us a nostalgic reminder about the colonial times and a good place for local adolescents to take selfies. You can climb the watchtowers and get a good view across the sea and Vasai creek. Inside the fort you can get a glimpse of the once stunning churches and buildings. But what we love the most, is the quietness and greenery that has overgrown this once indestructible fort. So if you need a break from the chaos of the city you should not fear the long train ride and head to Vasai!
How to get there: Vasai Fort is a 20 Minutes Rickshaw ride away from the local train station Vasai Road which lays on the western railway line, 7 stations north on a fast, 15 north on a slow train from Bandra. It will take around 1.5h to reach from the hostel.
3. Bombay Port trust garden
Of course there are also surprising hidden spots that aren’t difficult to reach and within a decent radius from other sights. The Bombay Port Trust Garden is such a gem! Also called Sagar Upvan, this 12-acre park is a wonderful green spot in Colaba to relax and retreat. Usually parks in the city are created quite artificially with no room for greenery that can grow wherever it wants. Not this one! Huge trees, lots of plants, butterflies, birds and a fantastic view across the Arabian sea make you feel like in enchanted little world within this mega city. There is also a greenhouse for cacti and lots of benches and gazebos to relax or have a picnic.
How to get there: During your time in Mumbai you will find yourself most likely at some point in Colaba, the centre of sights in the south of the city. Just follow Colaba Causeway and find the park on a small lane to the left shortly after Sasoon Dock.
This is one for the nerdy hopsters out there! Gilbert hill in the middle of the suburb Andheri, north of Bandra, is one of world’s oldest basalt rock formations. Remember when this massive meteor crashed into the planet and destroyed all living beings? Well of course YOU don’t remember but Gilbert Hill does. The 200 ft large monolith column of black basalt rock was formed around 66 million years ago during the volcanic eruptions following the meteor incident. It’s one of only three such places, the other two being in the US. You can climb on top of the hill where you will find two small temples and a fantastic view across suburban Mumbai.
How to get there: Gilbert Hill is a 15 Minutes walk from Andheri train station, four stations north from Bandra on the western railway.
5. Mathar Pakhadi Mazgaon
Most people, locals and visitors alike, expect that Bandra has the oldest Portuguese-style houses in the city. Not true! There is a tiny little neighbourhood in the south-eastern district of Mazgoan called Mathar Pakhadi. Home to a small but traditional East Indian community, you can find the typical bungalows with wooden staircases, open balconies and little hidden altars in small winding lanes. For a moment you can forget you are in Mumbai as it’s quieter than anywhere else. One of the most beautiful houses though it’s just outside of the neighbourhood: the Lion’s Den was built in 1892 and definitely hits your eye with the two welcoming lions out front. The entire area of Mazgoan is equally remarkable due to its history and mix of communities. Since the docks were close by, Parsi, Hindu, Gujarati, Jewish and even Chinese merchants settled here. There was once even a so called Chinatown here. Now only the Chinese Kwan Kung Temple serves as a nostalgic reminder of this time.
How to get there: The neighbourhood Mazgoan can be explored from the train station Dockyard Road on the Harbour Line, 7 stations down from Bandra.
You would like to visit any of these and more places in Mumbai? Book your stay with Horn Ok Please Hostel now!