Mumbai–Mar 10, 2013

Its March so we must be near Mumbai, at least that is what seems to be happening since 2010. We have an overnight stay in this wonderful city. Full of life, it has a lot of energy. And it requires energy to see. In our favour is that it is Sunday and a Hindu festival so there will be little traffic. And best of all, we have Raj as our driver again.IMGP8337

We came up with a list of sights to see as we have been here before. Shopping is not on the list Smile First up is St Thomas Church. As it is Sunday there is a choir practising, lovely voices. Building started in the late 1600’s but stopped when the walls were 15 ft high. It then lay dormant for 34 years. It was finally completed in 1718. The present state is due to a restoration project in 2003. A lovely building, very peaceful in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city.

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Heading on we pass the University of Mumbai. One of many stunning pieces of architecture, its stair case tower is a highlight. Being Sunday we are not allowed in so the photo angles are somewhat challenging due to the amount of greenery.

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Driving further along Mayo Road we pass endless cricket games and roadside ‘fashion’ shops. A walk along Chowpatty Beach is our first intro to this part of the city. It is relatively calm here as it is still early in the day. Tonight will be a different story.

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The Kamala Nehru Park provides a superb view of Chowpatty Beach. The Hanging Gardens across the road is built on a water reservoir built in 1921 that holds 31 Million gallons of water. It is a maze of gardens and plantings that is popular for its relaxing walks.

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Our destination is Banganga Tank, a famous bathing oasis at the southern tip of Mumbai. The wooden pole in the centre of the tank is supposed to be the centre of the earth, it is the arrow Lord Ram used to create the tank. Getting there by car is an amazing feat of navigating less than single lane roads, on the left are rich apartments, on the right are slums. Well worth the effort.

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IMGP8285-2Mani Bhavan is a museum dedicated to Mahatma Ghandi who used it as his Mumbai base from 1917 to 1934. A thoughtful display of his life awaits you there.

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By now we are hungry and thirsty. Raj is asked to take us to a place where he would eat. While most tourists would end up at the Taj Hotel or The Khyber (both excellent) we arrive at National Restaurant across the road from The National Hindu Hotel. Raj is obviously well known hereSmile. We sit down after washing our hands. Raj orders us 3 dishes that we share. Pat ordered a Ginger Soda which is actually crushed ginger and sugar syrup with soda poured over it. Amazing. There are no left overs, excellent food for less than $10 for 3 of us. An added bonus is that it is only a 5 min walk straight out from the Green Gate in the port, cross Colaba  Causeway and turn right onto Mint Rd. We of course ate only with our right hand. For those who fear eating in Mumbai, this place (like most) is spotless inside.

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IMGP8349Filled up and refreshed, we head off to a local Dhobi Ghat. Not as large as ‘the big one’ but just as rewarding a visit. Cricket is played everywhere esp. on Sunday. This is no exception as there is a game going on in  a confined area with the ball occasionally batted over a building. Very entertaining to watch!

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We next headed off to see the Thieves Market. I think we were not quite in the correct area for the main part of the market but we were starting to get tired. Lots of interesting life as well as old buildings along the way.

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On the way back to the port we stopped for some refreshments. The port itself is changing, the area next to the terminal is being cleared. They work on this 7/24 from all appearances.

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