Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mumbai Darshan


ike Chowpatty, its downtown counterpart, uptown Juhu Beach is also a bourgeois paradise, filled to the gills with screaming children, courting couples and rowdy adolescents. If you want a more fancy excursion, however, retreat behind Juhu's many five star hotels, for a steaming cup of coffee and a splendid view of the coast. The most popular of these beachfront hotels are the Sun and Sand and Holiday Inn. The government run Juhu Centaur also has a 24 hour coffee shop with a view of the sea.


If you're feeling energetic, a stroll down Marine Drive is possibly the best way to discover Mumbai. This is a windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings. Looped between the concrete jungle of Nariman Point, Mumbai's Manhattan, and the leafy green slopes of Malabar hill, Marine Drive was once called the queen's Necklace, strung with glittering street lights like an enormous strand of imperious jewels. It is also one of Mumbai's busiest roads, an important artery for the heavy suburban traffic heading downtown. Cars whiz continually past the two mile stretch, past huddled lovers, children and babies in perambulators. Like other seafronts, this is where most of south Mumbai comes to breathe in some fresh air.


Mumbai's most famous monument, this is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianised, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbour

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