Having a child forces you to get out of your comfort zone and see and do things differently. Before we had Anika, my husband and I had lived in Mumbai for over half a decade together, but its only recently that we have begun to explore the city that we call home, and have started to discover many amazing things about it along the way.
Mumbai, the financial capital of India and the capital of the state of Maharashtra is truly a maximum city. A metropolis that is all about contradictions, differences and acceptances, Mumbai will seem very daunting at first, but give her a chance and she will reveal her more gentle side to you.
Originally seven different islands, land reclamation led to the separate land pieces merging and forming one large urban space. Mumbai is a long city and the Southern part of the city that constitutes some of the oldest parts is referred to as South Mumbai or town as the locals love to call it. Here are my top things to do with children in South Mumbai.
1) Take a ferry ride – If you can get used to a little bit of pushing and shoving, then standing in a queue and getting onto a ferry from the Gateway of India is one of the nicest things to do in the city. As the ferry pulls away from the jetty and heads out into the ocean, riding on the waves with the wind blowing in your hair, sit back and watch some of the Indian Navy’s finest ships and vessels docked nearby. The ferry offers unmatchable views of the Gateway flanked by the gorgeous Taj Mahal hotel an icon in its own right. If you are lucky you will see many seagulls fishing in the waters around.
Make it happen: If you just want a short ride that’s about 25 minutes in duration, then you don’t have to buy tickets at the counter. Instead walk to the back of the Gateway and join a queue. Tickets cost about INR 80 per head for both adults and children. While you wait to get onto to the ferry don’t forget to enjoy the Gateway from up close. There’s always a flurry of activity around much to the amusement of children. We did a ferry ride in the morning and one closer to dusk. Evenings are a great time to be out in the ocean, as its much cooler and the sky puts on a fabulous show as daylight begins to fade.
2) Walk around Kala Ghoda – The leafy Kala Ghoda arts district is a perfect place to walk with children as it has broad pavements and is sparsely crowded on most days. Walk into Jehangir Art Gallery if a particular show catches your fancy or watch artists display their work on the pavement outside. If you are a family who enjoys museums, then visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or the erstwhile Prince of Wales Museum that was founded in the early 1900s.
For more information on Jehangir Art Gallery click here.
For more information on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya click here.
3) Watch the sunset from Marine Drive – The 3 km long Marine drive, which is essentially a 6 lane road along the coastline, is one of the best places to watch the sunset in the city. Walk on the paved broad walkway or sit on the raised platform and feel the breeze blow through your hair. Bring your own little picnic basket or buy ice creams, roasted corn or peanuts from the many hawkers who will come by and talk to you. Popular with locals, weekends can be very crowed as people from other parts of the city come here to spend their evenings with family and friends.
4) Hop onto a double decker bus – One of the few cities in the world that still has double deckers buses plying, sitting on one should be on your agenda.
Make it happen: You can choose to do a tour aboard an open top double decker, the Nilambar bus, that comes with a guide. These tours are available only on Saturday and Sunday and require some preplanning, as you need to buy the tickets beforehand from the MTDC booking counter at the Gateway of India. For an unplanned but fun ride – hop onto bus number 124 that starts from Colaba bus depot and that goes all the way to Worli bus depot. Buses come at a frequency of every 15 minutes. We caught this bus from the bus stop outside the Gallery of Modern Art and went past Flora Fountain to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). However this bus does not operate on Sundays.
Make sure you walk around Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) – one of the grandest and most stunning buildings in Mumbai.
For more information on the Nilambar bus tour click here.
To plan your trip you can use tellmyroute – a website that gives you routes and timings of different modes of public transport in Mumbai.
5) Watch local lads play cricket at the Oval Maidan – Spend some time in this 22 acre recreational ground watching groups of children play cricket and football.
Make it happen: The Oval is huge and you can enter it only from 2 gates on either side at the center, so make sure you get off in front of the gate if you don’t want to walk around too much. Carry your own ball or cricket set as nothing is available there.
6) Get some beach time at Chowpatty – Located at one end of Marine Drive, Chowpatty is a popular beach this side of town. Massive cleanup exercises in the past and good maintenance today, have ensured that this is one of the cleanest beaches you can find in the city. While the sand is clean, the edge of the water has some filth which the sea brings in. Locals flock to this beach to unwind after a long day and to indulge in many of Mumbai’s street foods.
Make it happen: I would recommend going early in the morning when the beach is clean and virtually empty. Don’t go there hoping to get into the water, rather go there to enjoy the sand. You can hire a cane mat to spread on the sand from one of the many vendors who will come by.
There are many more things to do with children, but think I am going to keep the list short for now. Is there something that you think one should absolutely do with kids this side of town?
Looking for a place to stay in South Mumbai – Read: Abode – Mumbai’s First Boutique Hotel