From solemn religious sites to hip nightlife; there are plenty of things to do around Mumbai without breaking the bank.
Start your day in Colaba, the southern tip of Mumbai by the sea. The area is a watering hole for tourists, but you can get breakfast at the local favorite Olympia Coffee House, located directly opposite from Leopold’s Café. Be sure to try the popular masala kheema, fried minced meat with spices and bread to soak up the gravy.
Close by near the shore is the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s iconic monument and most popular tourist attraction, which is also free of charge. The structure symbolizes the era of the British Raj, completed in 1924 to commemorate a visit from King George V and Queen Mary. It is the first thing you see when approaching Mumbai from the ocean, and in 1947 the last of the British left India through the gateway. Today thousands come to see the Indo-Saracenic architecture, a combination of Islamic and Hindu styles.
From Colaba you can take a boat to Gharapuri, India’s “City of Caves,” home to the man-made Elephanta Caves, dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The stone sculptures date back to the 7th century, and was used as a place of worship until Portuguese rule began in 1534. The entire trip will total around 500 rupees, which converts to $8.
While driving along the coast, you might have gotten a glimpse of Haji Ali, the mosque in the sea. Lying about one kilometer out in the water, Haji Ali is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, though it becomes completely submerged during high tide. The mosque was built in 1431 in the memory of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a wealthy merchant who gave up all his worldly possessions before making pilgrimage to Mecca. On Thursdays and Fridays, up to 40,000 pilgrims will come to pray.
For lunch head back to Colaba for a meal at the infamous Leopold’s Café. The Mumbai landmark has been around since 1871, and has become a popular spot for an eclectic group of people. On any given day you will see the place filled with backpackers, Mumbai mafia and Bollywood execs. While the food isn’t particularly great, you can’t beat the atmosphere while finishing off a beer tower with your friends.
Once you’re filled up you can make your way deeper into Mumbai. One interesting site that is easy on the wallet is the Chor Bazaar, which translates to “thieves’ market.” The bazaar is located on Mutton Street in the busy market district, and is famous for stolen goods finding their way to vendors there. Great for antique items, be sure to utilize your best bargaining techniques while haggling with the vendors.
As the sun sets, take an afternoon chai and rest up before you head out for the night. Mumbai offers a variety of nightlife much cheaper than the party hotspots back home. If you’re looking for a club night, head to Lower Parel’s blueFROG, one of the best music venues in Mumbai that features a variety of artists from around the world. Cover charges on Friday and Saturday are only 500 rupees, and there is also a Sunday brunch with live music and an open bar for 2000 rupees, equivalent to $33.
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