Mouth-watering Mumbai is India’s top destination for gastronomic indulgence. A culinary cornucopia of flavors from all over India and the world collide here, elevating the metropolis to the proud status of India’s foodie capital. The kaleidoscope of aromas, spices and tastes cover everything from Mughlai kebabs, Goan vindaloos (spicy Portuguese-inspired curry) and Mangalorean seafood to Parsi dhansak (hot and sour lentil and lamb stew), Gujarati and Keralan thalis (‘all-you-can-eat’ meals), world-class Thai and Indo-Chinese cooking, and a dizzying street food scene that is a reason to visit Mumbai all by itself.
Mumbai cuisine has been shaped by centuries of seasoning at the hands of Koli fishermen, Hindu dynasties, Muslim sultans and Portuguese and British colonists. All have converged on this flourishing trading port through the years, importing their own culinary know-how. As India’s most cosmopolitan city, Mumbai casts the culinary net worldwide, with abundant restaurants offering the flavours of Europe, the Middle East and East Asia to the city’s expats and backpackers, and to Mumbai’s rich and famous elite.
Colaba is where you’ll find the majority of cheap eats, usually aimed at the foreign backpacking
Some women travellers, and especially solo women travellers, are reassessing their travel plans in India following the fatal rape of a local Delhi woman, and the gang rape of a Swiss tourist. These much-publicised Delhi cases have sparked protests and opened up discussion about violence against women in India and new legislation has subsequently been passed.
You’re very unlikely to experience violent crime as a woman traveller in India; it’s sexual harassment that you may experience – more so in tourist towns and larger cities in the north of the country. Rude comments, voyeurism, and men ‘brushing against’ or groping women are all common.
Come prepared for this: be ready to make a fuss when it happens, and don’t let it put you off experiencing beautiful, chaotic India.
What’s the current advice for women travellers to India?
Although crimes against women in India, including foreigners, are on the rise, incidents are still rare.
Foreign governments give a wide range of advice on travelling to India. Canada advises its citizens simply to avoid travelling alone, especially at night, on public transportation or in
Be prepared to be jostled, hurried and incessantly chatted to as you soak in the trendy yet traditional vibe of Mumbai.
24 hours isn’t nearly enough time to explore all the highlights of this intoxicating city, but this whistlestop tour will help you catch the flavour of Mumbai: serene mornings by the sea, alternative cafes, crispy local snacks, the rush of great bargains and memorable nightlife. To make the most of a single day, it’s best to hire a cab and zoom between experiences.
Spend the morning in Bandra
The aroma of freshly baked bread starts wafting from the A One Bakery on Hill Rd well before daylight, helping you kick-start the day as early as you want. Get a goody bag of cinnamon rolls and blueberry muffins to accompany you into the narrow lanes of Ranwar, which sprawls behind the bakery and into graffitied Chapel Street.
Mornings are the best time to explore. You’ll see the area’s 200-year history gradually unfolding as you pass balconies hanging from colonial homes and huge Christian crosses. Neck-stretching urban art in psychedelic colours drapes the walls
A gargantuan, pulsating metropolis that reinvents itself every time you blink, Mumbai is India’s most modern and most happening city. The best entertainment spots, the liveliest cultural melting pots, the yummiest meals at the most trendy cafés or the latest designer threads gracing the most beautiful people – Mumbai is where you’ll find them. Indeed, the city is getting a make-over unlike anything India has seen before, with more than 15 ‘supertalls’ – trade slang for skyscrapers over 300m – under construction in the northern suburbs.
Many travellers limit themselves to the historic neighbourhoods of south Mumbai and miss out on Mumbai’s modern cutting edge. Here’s a look at some of the sights and activities that help you to get under the cosmopolitan skin of India’s ‘Maximum City’.
Shop like a fashionista
Rising from the ashes of what was once a colonial cotton mill, High Street Phoenix (highstreetphoenix.com; 462 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel West) is Mumbai’s top destination for shopaholics, particularly those with a weakness for premium designer labels. Appealing to Mumbai’s icons of film, fashion and finance, this luxury shopping complex – the largest of its
Location: Throughout northern India and Nepal
Dates: Three days around the March full moon
Level of participation: 5 – prepare to dust and be dusted
The most boisterous of Hindu festivals, Holi waves goodbye to winter and welcomes in spring in a rainbow of colours. In India it’s predominantly celebrated in the north of the country, and is quite rightly known as the Festival of Colours for the raucous events on Holi’s final day, when children and adults take to the streets throwing colourful gulal (powder) over each other. Dyed water is shot from syringes, thrown from buckets and poured into balloons, which are then tossed at people. It’s sanctioned anarchy and, as a visitor, you’ll be a particular target so expect to finish the day looking like gulab jamun (a red, sticky Indian sweet). Authorities urge the use of natural dyes, so they can be easily cleaned off, but you could be a mobile colour chart for days or weeks after. Though it runs for three days, Holi is mostly condensed into this final mad day. The night before, huge bonfires are lit at major crossroads in towns and cities and
Holy is not a word usually used to describe Mumbai. With its slums, Bollywood divas, Bombay mafia, and extremes of poverty and decadence, the city’s often made out to be one hot mess.
But Mumbai has a complex personality, and the former fishing village is also a traditional place that takes its spiritual paths seriously. Its high concentration of spectacular religious sites, tiny temples and magical shrines make it easy to make a little progress on the road to enlightenment.
Mumbai is named for the Hindu goddess Mumba, and today about 50% of Mumbaikers are Hindu. Pay a visit to the city’s patron goddess at the humble Mumba Devi Temple in the Bhuleshwar neighbourhood, about 1km north of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Among the deities in residence is Bahuchar Maa, goddess of the transgender hijras. Puja (prayer) is held several times a day.
In the city centre, the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue is still an active house of worship for Mumbai’s small Jewish population, which numbers around 5000. The tiny, old-fashioned 1884 temple is all charm on the inside and radiant sky blue on the outside.
Tucking into street food is one of the joys of travelling in India – here are some tips to help avoid tummy troubles.
1. Give yourself a few days to adjust to the local cuisine, especially if you’re not used to spicy food.
2. You know the rule about following a crowd – if the locals are avoiding a particular vendor, you should too. Also take notice of the profile of the customers – any place popular with families will probably be your safest bet.
3. Check how and where the vendor is cleaning the utensils, and how and where the food is covered. If the vendor is cooking in oil, have a peek to check it’s clean. If the pots or surfaces are dirty, there are food scraps about or too many buzzing flies, don’t be shy to make a hasty retreat.
4. Don’t be put off when you order some deep-fried snack and the cook throws it back into the wok. It’s common practice to partly cook the snacks first and then finish them off once they’ve been ordered. In fact, frying them hot again will kill any
The largest mangrove forest in the world is a mist-shrouded, river-riddled swamp region of shifting tides, man-eating tigers and off-the-beaten-track adventure. It’s surrounded on three sides by two of the most densely populated countries on earth – India and Bangladesh – yet it remains remote, inhospitable and largely uninhabited by people. This is truly wild terrain, and chug-chugging along its river channels into its swampy heart of darkness is as thrilling as it is serene.
The star attraction is the Royal Bengal tiger. Around 400 of these magnificent creatures call the Sundarbans home, making this the largest single population of tigers on earth. Despite their reputation as man-eaters, they are extremely difficult to spot, but the thrill of trying to track one down is hard to overstate. And even if you see none, simply sitting on the deck of your boat as you float through thick mangrove forests is an unforgettably dreamy experience.
How to see the Sundarbans
The Sundarbans is shared roughly 60-40 between Bangladesh and India and you can visit it from either country. The India side is more easily accessible, but Bangladesh offers the chance to