This list initially started off as 30 things to do before i turn 30 😛 but either my list is too small or i’m way ahead of my schedule 🙂 so here goes …
- Ride the Gateway ferry
The water’s brackish and there’s roughly one life-belt for every 20 passengers. But don’t let that stop you from taking a joyride on one of the ferries at Apollo Bunder. The 20-minute ride around the harbour is perfectly safe, so long as you don’t lean too far out of the boat.
Gateway of India, Apollo Bunder. Ferries leave roughly every 15 minutes. Rs 50. (DONE)
- Jetski at Chowpatty
The H2O water sports centre offers scuba diving, snorkelling, water and jetskiing, among other facilities. If you are above 18, you can charter a jet ski after attending a familiarisation programme, which is offered free to all participants. Once you’re used to the mean machines, you may be able to ride them alone but a lifeguard is likely to hover close by.
H20 Complex, Girgaum Chowpatty (2367-7546). Rs 975 to charter a jet ski for 10-15 minutes; Rs 250 for a three-four minute ride.
- Run the Mumbai Marathon
It’s the one day all of Mumbai takes to the streets. A charitable event held in January, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon has five categories, from the popular seven km Dream Run to the 42 km full-distance Real Thing.
- Take a leak in the heritage toilet
I’m not suggesting that you deface public property. Bombay Dockyard, which allows visitors in on a tour on the first Sunday of every month, has the country’s only heritage toilet. Located just inside the Bombay Castle, between the historic Bombay and Duncan docks, the fully operational lavatory has been in use since 1750, mostly by sailors who aren’t allowed to use their ship’s toilets when the vessels are in the harbour.
Lion’s Gate, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road.
Call 2265-5750 for details. Only for Indians.
- Hang out at Hanging Garden
Until ten years ago, standing at the highest point of Pherozeshah Mehta Garden opposite Kamala Nehru Park meant you could see all the way to the refineries at Wadala and count each jewel on the Queen’s Necklace on Marine Drive. While new high-rises have started to obscure two of those views, the garden is still the best seat in the house for panoramic views of the city.
Opposite Kamala Nehru Park, Malabar Hill. Daily 10.30am-6.30pm.
- Explore the National Park
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali has two lakes (Tulsi and Vihar) and a range of wildlife, including cobras, pythons and spotted porcupines, around 1,500 kinds of insects and over 150 species of butterfly. The park is also home to leopards, but you may not want to get in their way, considering that since 2004, they have killed over 60 people, mostly slum dwellers who live inside the park.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali (E) (2886-0362). Tue-Sun, admission Rs 20; Tiger and Lion Safari Rs 30. (DONE)
- Walk through Vasai Fort
Vasai may now be just one more stop on the northern fringes of the suburban line of the Western Railway but back in the day, the 1600s to be precise, Vasai was where all the action was. The birthplace of the only Indian Catholic saint, Gonsalo Garcia, and a jewel in the Portuguese crown, Vasai fort, or Bassein as it was then known as, was filled with impressive public buildings, imposing private mansions and soaring churches. Today, none of the buildings are intact but the walls of the fort still stand and it’s a calm spot of collapsing arches and decrepit belfries.
Take a train to Vasai on the Western Railway and a rickshaw from the station. (DONE)
- Drink beer at Janata
Janata is a regular working-class bar, like the hundreds of such boozers that dot Mumbai. It has the same Formica benches and tables, the menu offers similar Mangalorean and Indian-Chinese pub grub and the alcohol too is identical. Yet, Janata has acquired a certain cache, primarily because it’s the quintessential Mumbai dive – even if it is now the spot for the more high-brow to slum it out.
Janata, Pali Naka, Bandra (W) (2600-4049). Daily 10.30am-1.30am. (DONE)
- Walk along Marine Drive
It’s Mumbai’s answer to Havana’s Malécon. Even after its freshly installed parapets, redesigned jaywalk-deterrent road divider and missing bhuttewalas, the walk still has goose bump-inducing views of the Mumbai skyline and the Arabian Sea. (DONE)
- Catch a music gig
Not Just Jazz by the Bay is the sole survivor on a street once lined with restaurants that in the 1960s each hosted their own jazz band. It features live acts from Wednesday through Saturday. The performers include college bands and a few originals, stalwarts from the city’s ’60s and ’70s pop-rock scene such as the Elvis-channelling Gary Lawyer and sari-clad diva Usha Uthup, in addition to local jazz legends such as Jazzy “Joe” Pereira.
Soona Mahal, opposite The Ambassador Hotel, 143 Marine Drive (2285-1876). (DONE)
- Below the ramparts of the Bandra fort is one of the most under-used performance spaces in Mumbai. The amphitheatre comes to life only a few times a year, mainly during the Prithvi Theatre Festival in November and the Jazz Utsav a few weeks later.
Bandra Fort, Bandra (W). Call Prithvi Theatre on 2614-9546. (DONE)
- Visit the Chinese Temple
General Kwan Tai Kon cuts an imposing figure on the gilt altar in Mumbai’s only Chinese temple. Worshippers usually come during Chinese New Year.
Nawab Tank Road, Mazagaon.
- Eat street food at a khau galli
Pick from batatawadas, pudlas and other innovations that you get only on Mumbai’s streets, such as the Schezwan dosa. Wash these down with the medley of fruit and ice-cream called “fruit slad”.
Third Agiary Lane, Zaveri Bazaar. Also at New Marine Lines. (DONE)
- Munch idlis at Café Madras
The idlis at Café Madras are probably the best you’ll ever get outside of a south Indian home in Mumbai. The restaurant’s recipe shuns the Shetty-style rice grits in favour of the pricier but more flavourful urad dal, uses old-school slow steamers to retain moisture and texture and serves up its idlis with sambar, home-made butter and mulagapudi.
King’s Circle, Matunga (2401-4419). Tue-Sun 7am-2.30pm, 4pm-11pm. Rs 13. (DONE)
- Buy an Indian rock album
Check out the latest in the local rock and metal scene at music instrument shop Furtado’s in Dhobitalao. From the newest release by Indi-rock stalwarts Pentagram to upcoming death metal bands, it’s the best way to sample what campuses are headbanging to.
BX Furtado & Sons, Jer Mahal, Dhobi Talao (2201-3105). Mon-Sat 10am-7.30pm.(DONE)
- Watch a play in a garden
Watching the right play in the leafy environs of Horniman Circle Garden can be an enchanting experience. Take Manoj Shah’s musical Master Phoolmani, which had audiences screaming for encores at the end of three hours when it was staged a year ago.
Horniman Circle Garden, Fort. Call Prithvi Theatre on 2614-9546.(DONE)
- Stroll along Juhu beach
Now that bhelpuri stalls and horses are back where they belong, Juhu beach finally has a stretch that lets you enjoy a solitary walk. Now if only they’d clean up the water.
Juhu beach, Juhu. (DONE)
- Pole dance
Unleash the Pussycat Doll in you by enrolling in a Dare & Bare class at Gold’s Gym on Nepean Sea Road. Anchored by fitness instructor Shilpa Rane, the class teaches a variety of tricks from the sex trade – striptease, lap dancing and pole dancing – which will help you shed your inhibitions for good. Over a one-hour class, expect to go through basic butt moves, hip rolls, a slinky catwalk, deep dips and a squat that doesn’t quit. Perform all of those moves on stilettos and you are likely to have an intensive workout for your thigh and leg muscles as well.
Dare & Bare pole dancing classes, Gold’s Gym, near Chandralok, Nepean Sea Road, (98331-03710). Tue and Thur 7-8pm. Rs 2,400 plus taxes for eight sessions, plus Rs 500 for enrolment.
- Scribble on Ghetto’s walls
Get very drunk. Hug your friends. Get the permanent marker from Prakash at the cash counter. Look for an empty spot on the wall. Write how much you love Mumbai, your friends, Ghetto, beer, life and this song they’re playing. Add some abuse and beer-induced wisdom. Repeat.
Next to Mahalakshmi Temple, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mahalakshmi (2351-5537). (DONE)
- Kiss under a giant heart
Don’t leave the city before showing your love inside a huge heart. There’s a giant one at the Nehru Science Centre, complete with aorta and pulmonary what-nots. Entry and exit is through a ventricle.
Dr E Moses Road, Worli (2493-4520). Daily 10.30am – 6.30pm. Rs 20.
- Shop at the Strand Book Fair
If you’re in the city in January or September, make a pilgrimage to the Strand book fair, every Mumbaikar’s favourite hunting ground for bargains on books.
Call on 2208-6103 for dates and timings. (DONE)
- Devour a divine brownie
If heaven were to take the form of a dessert, it would come in the shape of a Theobroma chocolate chip brownie. The brownie is rich yet light and each bite is packed with the dense cocoa niblets.
Cusrow Baug Shop No 24, Colaba Causeway (6529-2929). Daily 8.30am-12.30am. Rs 30. (DONE)
- Stay at the Taj for a day
Residents of the Taj Mahal Hotel get to hang out and sip champagne by the swimming pool. If you’re feeling suitably bubbly, you could slip into the individual beach chair-shaped Jacuzzis in full-service spa.
Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba (6665-0300).
Rs 23,500 for a single-occupancy luxury room and up to Rs 31,000 for a Taj Club category double occupancy room, plus 10 per cent tax. (DONE)
- Sway to music at a bandstand
Every Saturday and Sunday in the cool months, you can catch the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika Suraksha Dal Band, also known as the BMC Band, performing in bandstands in public parks and gardens across the city. The set list is a mixed bag: Hindi film songs, koligeet, Scottish marches, patriotic tunes, and even a bit of Beethoven and Mozart. They also take requests.
Call SM Kamble on 2596-5257 for the schedule. Performances begin from October. (DONE)
- Hike up to the Kanheri caves
Borivali’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park houses the Kanheri caves. The 109 caves contain rock figures of Buddha and his Boddhisattvas sculpted during the Mauryan and Kushan empires of the first century BC. and some of them make you feel insignificant.
See no 6 for address. Tue-Sun. Rs 20. (DONE)
- Get your portrait made
The students and other struggling artists that dot the Pavement Gallery outside Jehangir Art Gallery are ready, eager and willing to indulge your narcissism.
Pavement Gallery, Kala Ghoda. (DONE)
- Ride in the oldest elevator
One of the city’s few surviving hydraulic lifts can be found in Navsarri Building in Fort. Said to be the oldest elevator in Mumbai, the lift is wood-panelled and operated using a crankshaft.
Navsarri Building, DN Road, Fort.
- Read books on Mumbai
Care to read Sir Dinshaw Wacha’s thoughts on the city in the period between 1860 and 1875? Trying to locate back issues of Bombay magazine? Almost everything you want to know about Mumbai is in the Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s Bombay City Corner.
Bombay City Corner, Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Third Floor, 78 Veer Nariman Road, behind Churchgate Station (2204-6633). Mon-Fri 10am-5.45pm; first and third Sat 10am-1.45pm. (DONE)
- Visit Japanese graves
Behind Worli’s Nipponzan Myohoji or Japanese temple is a little-known cemetery that houses the ashes of Japanese prostitutes and other Japanese immigrants. The cemetery has two stupas, a shrine and a house.
Hindu Shamshan Bhoomi, behind Japanese temple, E Moses Road, Worli
- Attend kala ghoda Art festival at least once !MG Road, Kala Ghoda (2284-4519). Festival happens once a year and is mostly free entry .(DONE)
21 out 30 not bad, since this list was created when I turned 20 and its only been a year since then 🙂 So go on , get out and discover Amchi Mumbai !
For stuff to do outside of Mumbai visit: Ultimate Guide to Mumbai Weekend Getaway They have a beautifully illustrated list that contains 545 places you could go to.