Mumbai, our last stop…After a short flight from Udaipur, we arrived at hot and slightly muggy Mumbai (Bombay). Mumbai is the wealthiest city in India and the second most populous city in the world after Shanghai. So, we had prepared ourselves for a lot more traffic and noise, especially after the peaceful Udaipur.
We were to stay with our dear friend, Vera. She met us at the airport bearing a big smile and we drove toward her neighborhood called Bandra, only a 15-20 minutes drive away from downtown Mumbai. We really liked her inviting and comfortable apartment and met her loyal and kind helpers.
After a quick freshening up, we headed out to see the town. We passed over the Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) or as it is officially called,Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link on our way to the downtown. Opened in 2009, this 100% cable-stayed, 8 lanes, 5.6 km in long bridge cuts down the travel time between Bandra & Worli areas of Mumbai from 45-60 minutes to only 7 minutes. It is also magnificent.
Heading toward South Mumbai (downtown), we drove alongside the famous Marine Drive. It is a 3 km long C-shaped boulevard which is also a natural bay by Arabian Sea. Built over reclaimed land, its long promenade offers beautiful view over the sea and on the opposite side is filled beautiful Art Deco buildings, restaurants and shops. In fact, Mumbai is second to Miami in its wealth of Art Deco structures.
South Mumbai is also where eight of 2008 Mumbai attacks took place. Among those were the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Oberoi Trident Hotels. The repair work still continues at these sites. We had a lovely walk around the Nariman Point and Gateway of India.
Marine Drive is also known as the Queen’s Necklace because if viewed at night from an elevated point anywhere along the drive, the street lights resemble a string of pearls,forming a necklace.
The following day, Vera suggested heading out of town. Her friend owns a small farm about 2 hours drive from Mumbai and we llllllllllllllllllllllloved the idea. The drive was nice and a good part of it was on smaller roads. We stopped by a small roadside lunch stop and had a Mumbai’s specialty, Batata Wada: deliciously spicy Potato Pakoras sandwiched in freshly baked buns.
The uphill mountain road took us to the village of Lonavala, famous for its Chikki, a delicious sweet which we had to have. Nearby, we spotted baby monkeys -well- monkeying around.
Another 15 minutes drive put us in the village of Karjat. We slowly moved through the picturesque and bumpy village roads. As usual, kids were playing and smiling, men were wondering about and women were of course, working…
After a sharp bend, we arrived at Vera’s friend farm. I’m afraid, my words and pictures cannot convey the beauty and peace of this modest farm. We met with the farmer and his sister, soaked our feet into the cold river, walked about the farm, drank a bit and ate a lot of fantastically delicious vegetarian food so graciously offered to us under a small hut. Of course, we ate correctly: utensil-free
The next day, Vera arranged for a henna artist to come to the apartment. It was an experience I won’t forget. I had been wanting to do this since our trip to Morocco. It took the henna artist over an hour to finish her masterpiece and took another hour for henna to dry out. I still had to let it set for a couple of hours before washing the henna off. All that was worth it though. I received so many compliments until my henna wore off about a month later.
Both my husband and I agree that the most memorable part of our trip to Mumbai was actually being outside of it: our trip to Karjat and the Farm. To us, this little spot on the map would remain unforgettable.
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