Twenty-four hours is barely enough to scratch the surface of the sprawling, schizophrenic metropolis that is Mumbai. But if you are stuck here for a day, these are the highlights you should not miss.
Start downtown in Colaba, the epicenter of Mumbai?s must-see map. On this tiny strip of land that forms the city?s southernmost tip, you?ll find shopping shacks and shaded swimming pools, tourist traps and take-out, culture and kitsch.
Breakfast: Eggs Well Done
Even if you haven?t visited Indigo Deli before, you won?t feel like a stranger. The wood-paneled walls, half-read newspapers and international menu will make you feel at home before you begin exploring the strange and wonderful streets of Mumbai. Fortify yourself with Eggs Benedict, pancakes and excellent hash browns, strong coffee ? or a stiff G&T.
Indigo Deli, 4, Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, call +9122 66368999.
See: Drawn Out Walk
Just past the bustling, sun-baked roads of Regal Circle lies the leafy stretch of Kala Ghoda (the Black Horse), broad, quiet and art-lined. Sample slivers of the Indian art scene at galleries like the Jehangir, or artisan coffee and culture-conversation at Samovar and the Kala Ghoda Caf?.
Jehangir Art Gallery and Samovar, Kala Ghoda, call +91222843989, open daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Kala Ghoda Caf?, Ropewalk Street, Kala Ghoda, +912222633866.
Buy: Shock Value
Bungalow 8 is a cross between a Maharaja?s estate and Ms. Haversham?s home in Great Expectations. Housed on three floors of a dilapidated building, it has retained the peeling, patchy walls and wide-beamed floors of the original structure, but embellished them with hand-carved marble ashtrays, silk tunics and 400 thread count sheets. Apart from exquisite home accessories and small furniture, the store also stocks a carefully curated line of clothes and some seriously lust-worthy costume jewelry. Prepare your credit card from some wear and tear.
To balance your splurging, tick off your remaining shopping list at the jumble of street stores on Colaba Causeway. Here, you?ll find everything from jewelry to handbags, T-shirts to souvenirs - but remember to bring your bargaining skills.
Bungalow 8, Grants Building, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, call +9122819881.
South by North
Bandra, the boho northern suburb and popular expat neighborhood, should be where you spend the rest of your day.
Break up the hour-long, traffic-plagued ride with a lunch stop at Dakshinayan, where you?ll get authentic south Indian cuisine ? paper-thin rice crepes, steaming lentil soup, spicy condiments, cooling yogurt rice ? double quick. Expect to sit elbow to elbow with lunching ladies and hungry suits (and a polite nudge out the door if you?re dawdling over your plate). A meal for two will cost you under $10 USD.
Dakshinayan, 183, Teen Batti Road, Walkeshwar, open 11am-3pm and 6pm-11pm.
Buy: Seven Stitches for Seven Days
Now that you?ve managed to cross the Sea Link, your first stop on the other side should be Khar?s D-7, where you?ll find one designer for every day of the week, including some of the country?s biggest couturiers: Manish Arora, Namrata Joshipura, Rajesh Pratap Singh and more. We especially love Manish Arora?s kitschy threads and Rajesh Pratap Singh?s clean white palette.
If you?re working on a skinny budget, skip the tourist-traps of Linking Road market and comb through the slew of export stores. Our favorite is Dark Waters, a designer lair that stocks everything from Burberry and Chanel to DVF and Armani at super slashed rates (watch out for fakes, though).
D-7, Shop No. 1, Turning Point, Junction of 1st and 16th road, Khar (W).
See: Urban Villages
It?s hard to believe that 300-year-old villages, or gaothans, exist in a city that?s constantly aiming for the skies. Of these, the Chimbai Village and Pali Mala Road in Bandra have acquired heritage status, while Pali Village waits for a similar honor. Here, you?ll find Portuguese bungalows and quiet squares, all interconnected by narrow streets where kids play cricket.
Stroll through and soak in the lazy vibe, incongruous with Mumbai?s frantic pace. Stop by the super charming Pali Village Caf? for a slice of cheesecake and (hopefully) a Bollywood celebrity sighting.
Pali Village Cafe, next to Janata Bar and Restaurant, Pali Naka, Bandra (W), call +912226050401.
Dinner: Freshest Fish
In a suburb founded by Kohli fisher folk, leaving without eating pomfret fish is unpardonable. Drop in at Soul Fry, a great place to sample the state?s fiery coastal delicacies; Monday nights are best, when they mix curry with karaoke.
If seafood is not your thing, walk down to the seafront and get pita rolls stuffed with spicy butter chicken and cottage cheese at Maroosh. Well worth the weekend rush.
Soul Fry, Silver Croft, Bandra (W), call +9126046892; Maroosh, A/6, Gagangiri Apartment, Carter Road, Bandra (W), call +912226005584
In Bandra, you can party in shorts or a silk dress, and fit right in at both. Begin your night at Zenzi, where DJs from all around the world stop in for a gig. The living-room-like setup is casual and breezy, with cocktails to match.
If you?re willing to trek another 20 minutes north to Juhu, then Aurus, a plush beach bar with overpriced drinks and the most amazing chocolate fondant, is a great place to hang. With white couches, plenty of eye candy and a panoramic view of the sea, it?s one of the prettiest little corners of this Maximum City. Have a drink, and promise yourself you?ll come back for a longer visit next time.
Zenzi, RK Patkar Marg, Waterfield Road, Bandra, call +912266430670