A Mumbaikar born and bred, the Mumbai local is an inseparable part of my identity. I recall when my family was house hunting, the most important criteria was proximity to a station along the western line and if you are visiting Mumbai then the Western line is where all the action lies.
What Taj Mahal is to Agra and Old Delhi is to Delhi, the Mumbai Local is to Mumbai. Maybe even more as it is the lifeline of the city, ferrying more than 7.5 million people everyday and therefore famous for its crazy crowds
In this blog, I am listing five stations that are fun places to get off at to enjoy the food, sights and sounds of the city!
Now, before I get to it I know what you must be thinking……why take the Mumbai local when I can travel by road?? Well, I can give you not 1 not 2 but 4 reasons:
- Its Faster: Unless you wish to waste half your time stuck in traffic jams on the notorious roads of Mumbai with horns blaring, it is just easier/faster to take the train – though if you are a tourist then avoid the peak hours 8-11AM and 4-8 PM!
- Better Connectivity: Spread over 465 kilometers (289 miles), almost every part of Mumbai is connected by the train services.
- So Cheap: Rs.5, save up on your petrol money and splurge on something nice (for me perhaps!) – there are these lovely shoes I’ve been eyeing!!!
- When in Mumbai: It is a quintessential Mumbai experience and if you are looking to get under the skin of the city…..this is your best bet.
Now lets get to business – Top 5 stops to experience on the Mumbai local:
- Get onboard the first stop Churchgate station:
This stop is special for many reasons! The first and last stop on the western line, Churchgate station is your gateway to all that is Mumbai. Situated at the tip of South Mumbai, get off here to visit the most popular neighborhood Colaba Causeway, including the Gateway of India, the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel amongst other popular sights. Aren’t Leopolds and some other cafes also in Colaba??
I got off here to go to Jai Hind College where I completed five years of my higher education and when we were not bunking class, you would find us at Gaylord.
Here, you could see me chomping on either the mushroom buns or the plait! We went there so often, you could’ve forwarded our post there!
After Gaylord, we would walk along the footpath, pick-up an ice cream or two from K.Rustom and make our way towards Marine Drive, the seaface promenade!
On days (rainy one’s are the best) when we had money jingling in our pockets, the Tea Center was another favorite – the apple butter tea there is yummmm!!
- Up next is Charni Road
At times when the family outing took us to town (that’s what we call South Bombay, now its the more kitsch SoBo!) then Girgaum Chowpatty(Mumbai for public beach), a short walk from Charni road was a favorite with the kids.
After playing amongst the waves and getting dirty in the sand, delicious chaat at the stalls along the beach and fresh homemade Mango and Chikoo ice-cream, a local fruit were a must.
Bachelorrs’ a roadside stall across the road was a winner amongst the older crowd and late night partygoers. After many a nights of drinking and dancing, we have stuffed our faces here with seasonal favorites like strawberry or mango with fresh cream and the grilled sandwich amongst the savories was a hit too.
Another favourite was strawberry with cream at Sukh Sagar (at Opera House – a stone’s throw away). Served in a large glass dish, chopped and whole strawberries topped with thick fresh cream – bliss!
- Wash off the dirt and grime at Mahalaxmi
As a budding photographer, everyday life and popular cultural spots in the city became my inspiration. The Dhobhi ghaat in Mahalaxmi, the largest open air laundromat in the world, is one such must shoot on every photographers’ bucket-list!
The splat and splash of water, the white cloth beating against granite mixed with colour, hung along the washing line is a shutterbug’s delight.
- Get off at Dadar for divine intervention
Dadar station, one of the busiest stations along the western line, connects different railway lines of the city and is also a getaway for long distance trains.
Now, this station is also important for your spiritual cleansing as it is the stop for Siddhivinayak, perhaps one of the most popular temples in the city housing the elephant god – Lord Ganesha. It is a common belief that if you wish for something in the Lord’s presence, there is a good chance it may come true.
As a child, I remember the special pilgrimage I made just before my exam results! I got there at midnight and stood in the prashad(blessings in the form of delicious sweets) queue waiting to be blessed.
So, do stop here, pray and who knows, it just might come true.
- The last stop on my list is Bandra station
Bandra station was my stop when I would take the train to go to college. I would meet my friends on platform no. 5 and we would take the fast train to Churchgate.
Known as the queen of the suburbs, Bandra, has grown from being a charming & sleepy neighborhood to one bustling with activity. Restaurants and shopping galore! At Linking Road, high street fashion is head to head with street fashion. If you are looking for amazing bargains on clothes, shoes and fashion accessories…..you have to check it out.
Famous for its song, dance and family drama, Bollywood calls Mumbai its home. Hence, watching a Bollywood movie here is a must-do! One of the earliest multi-plexes of the city, I recall Friday nights queuing up outside the ticket window trying to score tickets for the latest flicks.
Enjoy a show here, splurge a bit and buy decent seats up in the balcony section! Don’t be surprised, if the audience in the stalls below start whistling the tunes of the songs or perhaps, break into impromptu dance performances….that is Bollywood at its best.
Mumbai unlike Delhi or Agra doesn’t have grand old monuments and sightseeing must dos, but if you are looking to experience it like we, the locals do, then these 5 stops will get it done for sure….. all meanwhile enjoying some delicious local grub.
Its a wrap on the top 5 stops on the Western line….if you make it to all or some….do let me know how it goes and maybe you will find some of you own favourite things to do there….isn’t that what traveling is all about anyway…!