its a big city to navigate round, so i definitely recommend making a list of what you want to see, booking a driver and maybe spend a couple half days doing these trips – otherwise, you will find it exhausting and the traffic may do you in!
first on the list is the fish market – try to go early and watch the fishermen coming back from sea, and the beautiful girls in their colourful saris sorting out the fish, peeling the prawns – its an amazing display of working community life and colour; be warned – its very messy, very smelly so wear the right shoes – i wore flip flops and my feet were covered in fish blood and bits! sadly they didnt allow photos. then drive past the shanty villages along the coast where the fishermen live – drying out their fish in rows.
visit the fruit and spice market, victoria train station with its high victorian architecture, visit Jain temple – white marble temple of one of the oldest practised religions. our favourite bit was Ban Ganga, which gives you a true sense of how the old and the new, tradition and modernity, religion and freedom all mix in Mumbai, its atop Malabar Hill. if you get your driver to take you towards Teen Batti, and then walk around the tank (a mini lake ) which if you are lucky will see the locals give their offerings, entering the water with trays of food and flowers and bathing in the healing waters. just wonder round, take in the tiny temples, the sacred cows, the gulleys, the dhobis (the caste renowned for washing clothes); walk through their hanging clothes down to the walloping washing wallahs themselves. its an unbelievably ravishing experience. not far away are the Hanging Gardens, take a look down from their onto Marine Drive at night when its all lit up, they call it the Queen’s necklace. as you are going down from Malabar Hill, on the left are the Parsi towers of silence, you can’t go in, but its fascinating the way they dispose of their dead – they leave them out to be eaten by the birds.
of course, cricket is a national institution and when you pass any open space you will see locals all playing – i managed to see england play india there, which was an experience, but what i didnt bank on was sitting in the direct sun at 10.30am – it was hot, so if you and see a match, buy a seat in the covered part!
take a trip to chow patty beach during sunset – its a beautiful way to end the day, watching the locals swim, play or just walk along the beach – all religions, all ages, mixing to show a display of wonderful costumes. sunset at the gateway of india is also a lovely time, watching the boats come in, its a constantly changing skyline dependent on the weather or time of day. on a weekend you can’t miss the splendour and noise of a wedding or two, a train of musicians, guests and singers march round the streets….. so all in all, it really is chaos, but beautiful chaos – so enjoy!!!