By Ahmad Furqaan Hod on March 29, 2018

 

Gaya Travel Magazine recently collaborated with Malindo Air to promote Mumbai, the destination that the airline flies daily from Kuala Lumpur since the first quarter of 2014. Departing from Kuala Lumpur in the evening and arriving in Mumbai late at night allows travellers to avoid Mumbai traffic congestion during peak hours.

The five-hour flight on Malindo Air is effortlessly comfortable with extra legroom due to the 32” reclining seat. The airline also provides 30-kilogram complimentary baggage allowance for Economy class and 40 kilograms for Business Class with various in-flight entertainment on 11.1” touch screens, making travelling stress-free and rewarding, which is typical of most Malindo Air international flights.

Besides being known as the city that never sleeps, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is India’s economic capital. Being one of the most populated cities on earth with 22 million souls, Mumbai’s roads are characterised by endless traffic and incessant honking, especially at the city centre, markets, junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights. However, this should not deter intrepid travellers to savour the city’s delights because the rewards reaped from doing so are tremendous.

WHERE TO GO

1. Gateway of India
Discovering Mumbai with Malindo Air

Ferry boats coming into Mumbai from several destinations and attractions such as Elephant Caves.

Located within walking distance from the hotel that I stayed in a neighbourhood called Colaba, this was the first place I headed to. This monument – which was built to commemorate the landing of Britain’s King George V and Queen Mary at the spot in 1911 – would be the first structure that travellers notice if they were to arrive in Mumbai on a ship. During my visit, there were tents built for the shooting of a Bollywood movie surrounding the monument. Close to it you would find the magnificent five-star Taj Mahal Hotel with refined rooms, grand amenities and luxury shopping. Gateway of India is definitely one of the places for travellers to take selfies.

2. Crawford Market (crawford-market.com)
Discovering Mumbai with Malindo Air

A seller showing a type of spice at the Crawford Market.

For travellers who love fruits, especially Indian mangoes, they should head to Crawford Market. Besides fruits, this market also sells vegetables, poultry and masala (mixture of spices), which is derived from Hindi and Urdu words and used for cooking Indian and Asian cuisines. Masala’s level of spiciness can be rated from 1 to 10, with 10 being the fieriest. Prices here are cheap, especially when purchasing in bulk. Travellers would also notice the countless illegal street sellers at the entrance of the market that offer interesting photo opportunity for photography enthusiasts.

3. Chhahatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (www.csmvs.in)
Discovering Mumbai with Malindo Air

An exhibition of Indian historical magnate Sir Dorab Tata at the Chahatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum.

Formerly known as Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, this is Mumbai’s main museum featuring 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history. Despite the building’s huge size, the museum is a must-visit to understand Indian history and culture through story-telling rendered by an audio guide, including a 45-minute video presentation about the history of India. You will learn how India, together with its religions and cultures, was formed and progressed throughout the ages.  It is recommended that travellers allocate one whole day when visiting this museum. The National Gallery of Modern Art Mumbai is also located near to this museum for those who are interested in art and design.

Entrance Fee: INR550 (inclusive of audio guide)
Extra fee of INR50 is imposed on each phone and DSLR camera, and INR5,000 for advanced videography (with tripod).
4. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (www.bdlmuseum.org)
Discovering Mumbai with Malindo Air

Comprehensive detailing of Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum interior.

This is another museum that is worth visiting in Mumbai due to its grand architecture and interiors that are mostly handcrafted and restored to its historical splendour. Formerly known as Victoria and Albert Museum, it is embellished with Victorian artworks and sculptures since it was opened in 1857, making it the oldest museum in town. Considered as an architectural gem, the name pays tribute to Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, the first Indian Sheriff of Mumbai and secretary of the Museum Committee when it was first founded. The museum’s collections represent the finest traditions of craftsmanship from the 19th century. Special exhibitions such as movies at the museum, live music, and comic-making workshops are also held every month to attract more visitors. Located close to the museum is the Cross Maidan, a local market that sells local street food, clothes, poultry and more. Travellers are also recommended to stop by at the Horniman Circle Garden where most British heritage buildings are located that are now home to local banks.

Entrance Fee: INR100

Audio Guide: INR50

Discovering Mumbai with Malindo Air

Walk along Cross Maidan street to witness locals having lunch – try the food too if you are adventurous!

5. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (VT Station)

Being another UNESCO World Heritage Site in my bucket list, this terminal was known as Victoria Terminus Station, built over a period of 10 years beginning in 1878. This railway station is well connected to all parts of the country. The structure represents British Commonwealth and among the most outstanding architecture from the 19th century. The trains, however, are outdated yet robust and well utilised without proper entry and exit pathways leading to them. It is almost similar to what can be seen in Bollywood movies: Indians carrying huge loads on their heads, shoeshine boys sitting next to each other waiting for customers, thronging families waiting for the next train, with some of them enjoying lunch while sitting on the floor. Trying to absorb and capture the local scenery inside this station is indeed an eye-opening experience. Since security is laxed, I easily boarded one of the trains without having to show any ticket just to take photos of the people inside.

6. Dharavi Slum & Dhobi Ghat
Discovering Mumbai with Malindo Air

Labourers making clay by blending minerals and soil using their own feet.

Being the largest slum in the world after those in Kenya and South Africa and home to roughly one million people, Dharavi nowadays attract international travellers. After having said that, travellers need to be mentally prepared to face situations that are far less hygienic and comfortable when visiting this area, thus they should bring along whatever they deem necessary to survive touring the place.

You will be surprised to find that a small house can fit up to 10 persons and sharing toilets is common. The houses are built close – and even seem to stack – on each other. Besides residences, Dharavi is also the hub of cottage industries and hand-making products such as leather, textiles and pottery.  It is strongly advisable to explore this place with a knowledgeable local friend (special thanks to Mr Sada, 36 years old, a taxi driver who kindly showed us around) to take Steve McCurry-inspired photos and immerse in Dharavi’s thriving way of life. Though the local government has attempted to improve the residents’ quality of life by building public infrastructure and apartments, many parts of the slum are still in need of improvement.

A cosy reading area within Abode Mumbai Hotel.

View of the laundry area with skyscrapers and neighbourhood adjacent to Mumbai Mahalacmi train station.

The Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat is a huge open-air laundromat. Located close to the slum, this is the place where locals, including hotels, hospitals and Mumbai residents send their laundry. As a matter of fact, this place is also famous among foreign tourists since it is located close to the train station.

WHERE TO STAY

Abode Mumbai Hotel

Located in Colaba, this hotel is housed in a 170-year old building. Each of the hotel’s 20 rooms comes with fresh design, luxurious vintage furniture and sumptuous bed. As guests enter the lobby, they will be welcomed by original paintings gracing the walls and a quaint library. This boutique hotel is considered affordable despite its centrality. Guests are also provided complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity during their stay. The hotel takes up their service level to a notch by also providing a cell phone with local SIM card in case guests encounter any emergency or communication trouble when venturing out in Mumbai. The Abode Hotel team provides guests with a doodled map of tourist attractions around Mumbai, including suggested restaurants close to the hotel.

Tel : +91 808 023 4066
Website : abodeboutiquehotels.com
Tips:
  1. Gaya Travel Magazine recommends that travellers should apply visa online at www.indiavisa.org.in. Each visa costs USD137 per person, depending on the country of origin. With such document, travellers can shorten their queuing time at the immigration because they will be ushered through an e-visa dedicated lane instead of conventional one.
  2. Take note of the timing of Mumbai traffic. I stayed in Colaba, which normally would take up to two hours to get there from the airport due to traffic congestion. However, since we arrived in Mumbai at 2300 hours, the journey was only 45 minutes.
  3. Beware of bird droppings when walking under huge trees; however, locals say that if you were to hit with one, you will have good fortunate.
  4. Stray dogs are everywhere, so are their excrement. Keep a sharp lookout especially when visiting the slums.
  5. Take note that there are two types of taxis in Mumbai: those with air-conditioning (blue taxi) and without air-conditioning (black and yellow). Of course the blue taxis cost more, but at least they are comfortable and the drivers speak English.
  6. Don’t be alarmed when you notice that Mumbai traffic lights stop working at 2300 hours.

Gaya Travel Magazine expresses our heartfelt gratitude to Malindo Air for helping to make our visit to Mumbai a reality. For more information, kindly visit malindoair.com. Do also follow Malindo Air via social media @malindoair.

 

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