24 Hours In: Mumbai - Asia - Travel - The Independent

24 Hours In: Mumbai

It's the home of Bollywood, a city of dreams. You've got just enough time for a snapshot...


Day breaks across the bay

08.00: Open the curtains and survey the scene. Look beyond the crowds gathering on the sea wall to that hulking shadow cast across the waters of the bay. That's the reflection of your hotel, The Oberoi (1), a modern monolith on Nariman Point, (00 91 22 5632 5757), with 333 rooms arranged around a sky-high atrium.

Mingle with the 16 million

09.30: Grabbed breakfast? Then step out into the heat - and noise - and make your way through the throng to the Gateway of India (2). Throng is the word - this city is home to 16 million people and while it may be India's commercial centre and home to Bollywood, you will be shocked by the poverty. The Gateway was built in 1924 to celebrate the visit of George V. Ironically, it wasn't finished in time and is best known as the point from which the British left in 1947.

Cut loose in the caves or shops

11.00: Now you've got a choice. You could take a boat across the harbour to Elephanta Island (3), and spend the morning exploring the remarkable caves there, which contain Hindu carvings dating from the 6th century. Alternatively, head for Courtyard (4), 41-44 Minoo Desai Rd, a showcase for some of India's top fashion designers. Mumbai is shopping heaven, and if this is your favourite pastime, try out the personal shopping service offered by Greaves Travel (see below), where you'll be shown the best of Mumbai and introduced to a tailor to run up any garments you desire.

A lunch stop on every corner

13.00: It's lunchtime. Try some authentic local food from one of the street hawkers: a channa puri (raised bread with chickpeas) or dosa (lentil pancake).

History on foot, and a few overs

14.30: Take in some more culture with a guided Heritage Walk (00 91 22 2369 0992; heritagewalks@ hotmail.com). A good sightseeing choice is the Fort area, taking in the Victoria Terminus (5), a glorious Victorian-Gothic railway station, and the Maidans (6), the green lungs of Mumbai, where you can watch the locals playing cricket, from kids' games to serious matches. Then relax in the Oberoi's Banyan Tree spa.

Dine out with the in crowd

20.00: For chic dining try Vetro, the Oberoi's Italian restaurant. Or for Bollywood glamour, see and be seen at Indigo (00 91 22 5636 8980), 4 Mandlik Road, in trendy Colaba, which serves a European menu. Then on for drinks at Dome, on top of the InterContinental Hotel, 135 Marine Drive (00 91 22 3987 9999). Or join the locals for a stroll along Chowpatty Beach (7) and a beer at one of the shorefront bars.

The author travelled to Mumbai with British Airways (0870-850 9850; ba.com) and Greaves Travel (020-7487 9111; greaves india.com). BA offers return flights to Mumbai from £456. Four nights in Mumbai with Greaves Travel costs from £999 per person, based on two sharing, including BA flights, transfers, room only, sightseeing, services of a personal shopper

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