Life in Bombay is so fast paced that we hardly get a chance to stop and enjoy the moment. Most of us are busy with work and commute. Whatever little time we get we spend it on watching a movie or in a mall or at a noisy coffee shop. Nothing wrong with that except that it’s kinda monotonous and gets predictable.
When a long weekend approaches, I notice people get panicky. What are we going to do with so much time? Let’s head out somewhere..to Lonavala, Panchgani, Alibaug. It’s common knowledge that going to Lonavala (or anywhere in Maharashtra) over a long weekend guarantees getting stuck in highway traffic for hours – because everyone decides to escape from Bombay. Yet, most people will prefer traffic over spending some laid back time in Bombay. It’s almost like it’s a crime to be in Bombay and have free time.
This post is an attempt to make you step back and see Bombay in a different light. Here are five offbeat things to do in Bombay when you have loads of free time and a willingness to try something different in your own city.
1. Go Sailing.
Rent a beautiful sail boat and go sailing with your friends / family. You can’t have lived in the city and not experienced a sailor’s life. Book an experience via Bluebulb. Pre-booking is advised. You can learn the basics of sailing or just sit back and watch the sun setting into the Arabian Sea, away from the maddening crowd and noise. The sound of waves gently lapping against your sailboat is just out of this world. When you watch the flickering lights of Bombay from a distance, you can’t help but fall in love with the city. Once you are back at the dock, treat yourself to some good food and beer in Colaba.
- Cost: Rs. 3499 (sailboat rental for max 4 people)
- Hours Spent: 3+ easily, considering you will stop for a bite somewhere afterwards.
Following are few other places that rent out sail boats (I haven’t tried these though):
2. Spend a day surrounded by books at Oxford Bookstore / Kitab Khana
Oxford Bookstore in Churchgate and Kitab Khana in Fort, both have a good range of books and cozy cafes.Cha Bar’s (at Oxford) menu boasts of exotic and cultural blends of tea like the Moroccan Mint, South African Rooibos, Decaf Teas, Green Teas and Ayurvedic Teas. You can grab a book of your interest, snuggle in a corner and read to your heart’s content.
- Cost: Ranges from zero to the cost of book you may end up buying.
- Hours Spent: Half a day if you like the company of books
3. Take the Heritage Walk:
Most of the city’s history is concentrated in South Bombay. So if you don’t live down town it’s a perfect opportunity to take a long drive and come to SoBo. Start from CST (Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus), also known as VT (Victoria Terminus). This UNESCO world heritage site was recently rated among the top 12 most beautiful railway stations from around the world by Mashable. Right next to CST is Mumbai GPO. Established in 1794, the General Post Office is one of the biggest in the world. If you like photography, then the the Victorian and Gothic architecture of the Colonial era is guaranteed to delight you. Continue walking and cover Lion Gate, Asiatic Library, Horniman circle, the RBI building and Crawford market. The steps of Asiatic library is a popular spot for a lot of Bollywood shoots. Check out some more pictures here.
Note – Right opposite Lion Gate stands the oldest building in the city. You’ll spot it if you walk slowly, looking for the engraved stone on the wall that certifies it as the oldest building. Easier landmark – it’s the building that now houses Anita Dongre’s showroom. *Sigh*
- Cost: Zero. And walking is good for health too.
- Hours Spent: Half a day.
Not sure about doing this yourself? Check out Travel-logs. They conduct walks every fortnight and will take you to places you didn’t know existed in Bombay.
4. Watch a play:
NCPA in Nariman Point hosts some of the best plays and live performances from national and international artists. They also screen some international acts. Prithvi Theatre in Juhu is another beautiful place where you can catch some really good plays. Both these places have great open air cafes where you can sit for hours. The cafe at Prithvi is more laid back and has a relaxed ambiance. Amadeus cafe in NCPA on the other hand is a more dressy, formal affair.
You can check out the calendar for upcoming events either on their respective websites or here.
- Cost: Starting from Rs.500 per person (Could be more depending on the play)
- Hours Spent: 3+ approx
5. Spend an afternoon at Cafe Universal:
Though I began this post by saying there’s so much to Bombay than just multiplexes and restaurants, I know it’s our favourite way of passing time. So for those hard core foodies and movie buffs, here’s my recommendation – head to Cafe Universal in Fort (On Sundays it’s open from 6pm onwards). Lonely Planet describes it as “a little bit of France near CST“. But this is better than France, I can tell you. The food (try their burgers), high ceiling, wooden interiors, big windows and the warm lighting makes you feel right at home. It’s never noisy here. And they serve beer with peanuts. That’s something we all should value. They will never rush you. When you do get tired of all the drinking and eating and just sitting, you can finally proceed to Sterling Cinema. It’s about 5-10 minutes from Universal. There! You have your food + movie plan sorted.
- Cost: Depends on how much you eat and drink. Universal isn’t expensive.
- Hours Spent: Half a day.
After the movie if you still have the energy and inclination to eat / drink more, then there’s yet another charming place that’s left to explore – Town House Cafe right next to Sterling will charm you with its music and menu. Great food. Great service. And prices that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Town House Cafe has a coffee shop on the ground floor which I haven’t tried but can vouch for the pub upstairs. It’s my favourite in town.
Some other places that you can check out in Bombay:
Bharti believes that every suitcase tells a story and she likes sharing these stories on her blog ‘Suitcaseofstories.wordpress.com‘. In addition to writing about travel, she also likes taking street photographs with her phone camera.