1. Marine drive, Mumbai Overview
Marine Drive is a km long, arc shaped boulevard along the South Mumbai coast, starting from the southern end of Nariman Point and ending at the famous Chowpatty beach. The coast lines the Arabian sea and is the best place to watch the sunset in Mumbai, or even to just take a leisurely stroll by the sea any time of the day or night.
The Marine Drive is also known as the Queen’s necklace on account of its shape and yellow streetlights. It makes for a spectacular view at night – you can go to either end of Marine Drive after sunset and see the lights glowing in a perfect arc all along the coast. People come to walk here in the evening to experience the brilliant sunset. It is also one of the places people visit late at night, and you will find vendors selling chai and sutta at all hours. The sound of the waves, a view of the Mumbai skyline and the starry sky easily make Marine Drive one of the most romantic spots in the city.
2. Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is, without doubt, one of the most popular tourist hotspots of Mumbai. It is located at Apollo Bunder Waterfront and overlooks the Arabian Sea in the most beautiful way. One of the most distinguished monuments in Mumbai, it was built in the year 1924 by famous architect George Wittet as a commemoration of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. The imposing structure of the monument is a beautiful confluence of Indian, Arabic and Western architecture and has become a popular tourist hub in the city.
Nicknamed ‘Mumbai’s Taj Mahal’, the foundation of this landmark was laid in 1911 and was inaugurated 13 years later in 1924. The structure in itself is a made of yellow basalt and solid concrete and is embellished with numerous Muslim and Hindu motifs as well. The basalt arch of the Gateway served as the entry and exit access to India through waterways before independence and was the exit point from where the last British ship left India for England. There are statues of Swami Vivekananda and Chhatrapati Shivaji that have been installed near the Gateway as well. The view from the sea of the Gateway complex, especially at night, is as beautiful as that of the Queen’s Necklace from the Marine Drive. An imposing edifice, the Gateway of India is a symbol of India’s rich history and cultural heritage.
3. Juhu Beach
Juhu beach is the longest beach in Mumbai, and arguably the most popular among tourists as well. Juhu beach is renowned for its wide variety of street food with a very typical Mumbai flavour. The nearby area of Juhu is a posh locality in Mumbai, home to a lot of famous Bollywood and TV celebrities – the most famous being Amitabh Bachhan’s bungalow – and it is not very rare to spot a celebrity jogging on the beach.
This is also one of the best spots in Mumbai to watch a sunset, with a cool evening breeze, and one of the few places where you see the “relaxed” side of the Maximum City.
Television shoots are often held and a number of toy-sellers, roasted corn vendors and acrobats attract the eye. Stretched from Vile Parle to Santa Cruz, children often have fun plane spotting with a departure runway near the edge of the sea.
You may also visit the iconic Iskcon Temple which is meters away from the beach or indulge in a theatre experience at the famous Prithvi Cafe. Jalsa, Amitabh Bachchan’s home is also in the vicinity and attracts an enormous crowd on weekends. There are also a number of famous cafes, restaurants, and pubs around this area which never sleeps, you’ll find people taking a stroll as late as 3 am at night.
Juhu beach was a big favorite with the Mumbai locals during the 90s, but it had become notorious for being very dirty because of a large number of tourists. However, in the last couple of year the BMC had made a lot of efforts to keep the beach clean. It is now cleaned almost daily, and lot of dustbins have been installed which help keep the area much cleaner than it used to be.
4. Siddhivinayak Temple
The Siddhivinayak Temple is a revered shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is one of the most significant and frequented temples in Prabhadevi of Mumbai, Maharashtra. This temple was built in the year 1801 by Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil. The couple did not have any children of their own and decided to build the Siddhivinayak temple so as to fulfil the wishes of other infertile women. It is one of the richest temples in Mumbai and devotees visit this temple in large numbers on a daily basis. The statue of Lord Ganesha here is believed to be self-manifested.
The Siddhivinayak temple has a small sanctum housing the idol of Shri Ganesha, which is about two and a half feet wide and made out of a single piece of black stone. The trunk of the Lord tilts to the right, and a snake adorns the idol much like a thread would. The deity has four arms and is hence known as ‘Chaturbhuj’. He carries a lotus in his upper right hand, a small axe in his upper left hand, a rosary in his lower left hand and a bowl full of his favourite snack ‘modaks’ as well. Flanked by Goddesses Riddhi and Siddhi who signify wealth and prosperity, the image of the Lord here is one that is of utmost importance to the people of faith. A temple of Lord Hanuman is also present in the premises.
5. Haji Ali Dargah
Situated at the backdrop of a beautiful view of the sea is the shrine of Haji Ali, a wealthy merchant turned into Muslim Sufi. The Haji Ali Dargah (mausoleum) was raised in 1431 in reminiscence of an affluent Muslim trader, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who gave up all his worldly belongings before making a trip to Mecca. People from all walks of life and religions come here to seek blessings.
Built of glass, the tomb is a beautiful illustration of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. A marble courtyard contains the central shrine. The tomb within the mosque is roofed by a brocaded red and green cloth, supported by an exquisite silver frame and marble columns. The main hall has marble pillars engraved with creative mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in varied designs and Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah. As per Islamic customs, there are different praying rooms for ladies and gents. Many famous personalities visit the shrine to seek blessings.
6. Elephanta caves
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Elephanta Caves is a specimen of rock-cut art and architecture from the times of medieval India. The caves are located on the Elephanta island which is situated at a distance of 11 km from the city of Mumbai. Natively known as Gharapurichi Leni, the Elephanta Caves that exist today are ruins of what were once elaborately painted artworks. It also provides an amazing view of the Mumbai skyline.
There are two groups of alcoves in the site of the Elephanta Caves, the first is a large group of five Hindu caves and the second one is a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain the stone sculptures representing the Shaiva Hindu sect. The architecture of the caves dates back to the 5th and 8th centuries, but the story of their origin is still a mystery. The caves are an expression of art and a number of important imageries are sculpted here, which include ‘Trimurti’ or three headed Shiva, ‘Gangadhar’ which is a manifestation of the river Ganga as she descends to the earth and ‘Ardhnareshwar’, which is a representation of Shiva and Parvati in the same body. In addition to being an important heritage site, the Elephanta Caves are also an unlikely trekking destination.
7. Bandra Worli Sea Link
Officially known as Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, this eight-lane cable-stayed bridge in Mumbai is the first project initiated by Maharashtra Government that commences West Island Freeway System. Bandra Worli Sea Link is one of the few bridges that is a cable-stayed with pre-stressed concrete-steel viaducts to hold it in place. Spanning across the arc of Mumbai’s coastline, this sea link is a civil engineering wonder that reflects the modern infrastructure of the city of Mumbai. The bridge is designed to cater around 37,500 vehicles per day while reducing the time travel between Bandra and Worli by a big margin. The beauty of the Bandra Worli Sea Link is in its engineering genius which gently compliments the crystal waters it is built over. Overlooking the magnificent blue waters of Mahim Bay, this splendid architecture is a mighty sight to behold.
Undeniably, the Bandra Worli Sea Link is an amalgam of natural beauty and man-made marvel. Roll your windows down as you whizz past the bridge and let the salty sea breeze run through your hair. The spectacle of Mumbai is especially appealing from the elevation of the bridge and makes it the perfect destination to capture a few candid shots of the city in all its glory. Bandra Worli Sea Link also overlooks the Worli Bridge and has a small park located nearby. The beauty of this attraction is enhanced during the night when twinkling lights adorn the bridge.
8. Sanjay Gandhi National park
Squeezed between the suburbs of Mumbai and Thane, Sanjay Gandhi National park is ideal for picnics and weekends getaways offering respite from the chaos and buzz of the city. Famed to be one the most liked national parks, visitors throng in thousands to spot Leopards, Macaques, Boars, Lions, Flying fox, Kingfisher, Sunbirds and a significant number of butterflies here. Kanheri caves, which are more than two thousand years old are also a major tourist attraction inside the park premises. The caves have been carved out of the rocky cliffs.
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, previously known as the Borivali National Park covers approximately twenty percent of Mumbai’s geographical area and is home to a staggering thirteen hundred and more than five hundred species of flora and fauna respectively. Covering an area of 104 square kilometers, it is one of Asia’s most visited National Parks with over 2 million visitors every year. The park is also said to be the largest park in the world located within city limits. There are two artificial lakes within the forest thriving with crocodiles and migratory birds all year. The lakes supply drinking water to the city. The park was first introduced in 1974 and helps to have a change from the usual sights, attractions, and rush of the big city. The Sanjay Gandhi National park is known for its evergreen dense forests, bird population, butterflies, and the small population of tigers.
9. Hill Road and Linkin Road, Bandra
Acknowledged for its high fashionable taste, Mumbai provides many opportunities to shop around. Besides Colaba, Bandra is another place for Shopaholics.
10. Worli Sea Face
The exuberant promenade with lashing waves and gushing waters of the Arabian Sea, situated in Worli, Mumbai is popularly called Worli Sea Face. Home to the rich and affluent residential colonies, the posh locale is also a major business district. Extending from Worli Fort in the north to Prabhadevi in the south, the seafront offers picturesque vistas of the endless blue sea with a hazy image of Haji Ali Dargah in the distance. The esplanade is frequented by locals and tourists alike, majorly in the wee hours of the night owing to scattered traffic and the solitary atmosphere. Some other major attractions of the Worli Sea Face are the quaint Worli Fort, Bandra- Worli Sea Link, Haji Ali Dargah etc. Besides the place houses umpteen eateries and budgeted restaurants on the pavements.
One of the popular places of Mumbai Tourism, the Worli Sea Face also boasts of Palais Royale- which is one of the tallest buildings in India other than being the ideal leisure location for all of Mumbai and beyond. The place also hosts various cultural events from time to time.