Due to travel plans to make it to a wedding up in Punjab it meant we only had 24 hours in Mumbai between when our overnigh sleeper arrived and our very early flight departed. Our second overnight sleeper bus was a bit more comfortable – this time the beds were wider and we even had our own LCD TV’s in our cabin. Very swish! It did mean that we got more sleep but the downside was our very swish bus broke down – twice. The first time was somewhere in the middle of nowhere and we stopped for two hours while they tried to fix it meaning that we arrived in Mumbai late. The second time it broke down was on the outskirts of town with an hour of our journey to go. We jumped off and got into a taxi and spent another hour (and very expensive cab ride) making our way across town to our hotel and finally arriving at midday – five hours later then expected.
Once we checked in and freshened up we arranged for a taxi to take us around for the afternoon so we could fit in as much as we could. Our driver drove us over to Colaba a which is the end of the peninsula and home to most of the sights of Mumbai. On the way we stopped in at the Ghandi Museum that is located in his friends house who hosted him on many trips to the capital. It featured lots of memorbillia of Ghandi’s stay and information about his life. It was really interesting and very well set out and presented so I was happy we had dropped in.
Next stop was Marine Drive which is a seafront road spotted with couples sitting on the esplanade watching the water through the smog. We stopped to wander along and get a good view and as we got out we noticed that there were cameras and people dresses up so we thought we might be lucky enough to spot a Bollywood movie being filmed so we waited around to see what happened. They started to parade down the drive singing and dancing along to Bollywood music and following up behind them was Richard Branson. It was then we realised they had three flight attendants waving flags and we figured it was a commercial for a new flight route.
We hadn’t eaten since before we got on the bus the day previously so we asked to be taken somewhere for lunch and got directed to Leopolds which is a famous cafe bar that is famous on the tourist trail. Its sordid history described in the book Shantaram and also the focus of the terrorist attack four years ago makes it extremely popular. Both the venue and the menu were huge and we settled into our first meal in a day while we eavesdropped and people watched as we ate. It was great to see the place that I had imagined from the book but overall it was pretty underwhelming – just a dark dingy bar!
Leopolds is close to two other main attractions in Mumbai so we wandered over to the Gateway of India and The Taj Palace for the mandatory tourist photos. We wanted to visit Mumbai University and see their library but since it was a holiday we were unable to go in but we did have a drive around the beautiful old building. After that our driver told us that was everything! We were a bit surprises but then realised it was already late in the day. So we headed back to our hotel via one of Mumbai massive department store malls – another thing they are famous for.
We had seen as much as we could in a short time and I felt we got a good feel of Mumbai. Its a really interesting city with massive sky scrapers and bustling business centres that stand tall shadowing over the slums. I had hoped to do a tour of the slums as I had heard from other travellers that it is pretty crazy but also pretty interesting but since we ran out of time I had to settle for a drive by. We drove past the slum that features in the movie Slumdog Millionaire and it just made me sad to see such a massive example of the huge rich poor divide that is all through India.
I wish we could have stayed longer in this intriguing city but we were heading off to a Punjabi wedding which is a pretty good reason for less than a day in Bombay.