Experience Mumbai, the "City of Dreams" at her colorful and exotic best on this full day excursion. Mumbai is known for its striking contrasts, where within a street or two, you will find modern skyscrapers, ornate Victorian buildings, and bustling bazaars.
Departing the pier, travel along Marine Drive, built on land reclaimed from the Back Bay and fronting the Arabian coast. Because of its curved route and many street lights, it was once called the Queen's Necklace. At the end of Marine Drive and located on the east slope of posh Malabar hill is our first stop, an original shrine of the city, built in about 1780 and enlarged in the 1830's. Dedicated to the god Shiva, preserver, destroyer and most powerful in the hindu trinity, the temple known as Babulnath is especially popular with the original settlers and is thronged by devotees every Monday and during auspicious occasions.
You'll delve further into the city's old sections in the quiet enclave of Khotachiwadi, an original settlement of charming vernacular style houses of 19th century architecture that has survived the onslaught of real estate development. Take a walk down the unique streetscape of this heritage precinct with its beautifully painted buttercup yellow, red and green cottages belonging to the East Indian community who settled in this area in the early 1800's.
James Ferreira, renowned fashion designer invites us to his 150 year old mansion. It has charming and romantic small courtyards and terraces which take you away into the past. Everything from an antique beautiful kitchen clock to a four-poster colonial diwan with a canopy procured from an old church, to multicolored temple lights make the home a visual delight. Festivals and weddings are reasons for much celebration. During our visit, a few traditions will be showcased such as the sari tying and rangoli making, which is used to decorate the entrances and courtyards of Indian homes. Enjoy a refreshment of tea and freshly prepared local savories before leaving.
Your next stop is at the Churchgate Railway Terminus where you'll meet the `Dabbawallahs' of Bombay, members of the Bombay Union of Tiffin Box Carriers. As sole invitees from India for Prince Charles' wedding, they were described by the royals as "the symbol of this enigmatic and intriguing city. One of Bombay's unique facets, extensively investigated from the Harvard Business School to French Television and Documentaries." Each morning, around four thousand dabbawallahs call on suburban housewives who pack a freshly cooked lunch into small circular aluminum or stainless steel containers - `dabbas'. Typically, each dabbawallah collects 30-40 boxes, ranges them out on long poles, bicycle handlebars or decorated handcarts to the nearest railway station. Here, he hands them over to a fellow dabbawallah who then transports them into the city for delivery to the consumer. Over a hundred thousand lunches of maybe sabze (vegetable curry), chapattis (Indian bread), dal (lentils) and pickle, make their way daily across town to the breadwinner and back again. The service which costs a few rupees a week, is a good example of the fine division of labor in India, reliable and efficient, for the dabbawallahs pride themselves on never losing a lunch box.
Re-board your bus at Eros Cinema Hall, the city's first Art Deco theater, and then drive past classic Gothic constructions in the High Court, Bombay University, the Institute of Science, Prince of Wales and the Modern Art Museum. Lunch will be waiting for you at the landmark Khyber restaurant, situated in the art district of Kala Ghoda and famous for its north-west frontier cuisine (tribal areas between India and Pakistan) and barbeques.
Following lunch, you'll travel to Crawford Market, named after Bombay's first municipal commissioner, Arthur Crawford. Poised between what was once the British fort and the local town, the building has elements of both. Its façade features a blend of Flemish and Norman architecture, with a bas-relief above its main entrance depicting Indian peasants in wheat fields. Lockyard Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling, designed the freize and the Kipling cottage still stands in the market to this day. The scene here resembles one from Victorian London, with its sweet smell of hay and 50 ft. high sky-lit awning that bathes the entire venue in natural sunlight. As Mumbai's main wholesale market, you find mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables amongst a wide variety of items for sale here.
Your exploration of the old city culminates at the Albert Museum in Byculla, also known as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum which showcases the industrial arts and life in 19th century Bombay. Recipient of the prestigious UNESCO award of Excellence for Conservation, you'll see the story of origin and development in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, tracing its evolution from a swampy group of islands known as Heptanesia during Roman times, to its importance as Urbs Prima in Indis.
Please note: This tour includes a significant amount of moderate walking and there will be some steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Conservative, weather appropriate clothing; sun cap, sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Shoes must be removed before entering temples and women must wear skirts or dresses that reach below the knee. The Dabbawallahs cannot be seen on Sundays or holidays and the Albert Museum is closed on Wednesdays. The order of the sights viewed or visited may vary.