Mumbai (with kids) and keeping them engaged – Part 1
Mumbai was close to my heart as this city kick-started my career in the IT industry. It continues to be dear as my little sis calls it home – the reason I get to visit it often.
Here is my compilation of 5 things to do and places to visit in Mumbai’s town area with little, restless children in tow
1) Gateway of India
Referred to as the “Taj Mahal of Mumbai”, the gateway was a symbol of the power and aristocracy of the British empire. Before the Mumbai skyline gained prominence, this would be the first grand structure seen by visitors arriving by boat to Mumbai. Imagine the impression on a British aristocrat arriving in erstwhile Bombay for the first time, being treated to the sight of this majestic gateway !
I wouldn’t want to leave India too, if I were them 🙂 . The cardboard model of the structure was erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary, when they visited India in 1911. The construction did not begin till 1915. The Gateway was designed by George Wittet. He combined the Roman Triumphal Arch with Indo Sarcenic Architecture of 16th Century Gujarat. One can therefore see an influence of Gujarat in the architecture of the Gateway of India. The Indo-Sarcenic architecture style represents a synthesis of Mughal Indian and designs with Indian materials – which makes for these intricate designs you see around both the sides of Gateway.
Isn’t it then understandably why it is compared to the likes of Arc de Triomphe in Paris ?
I see it as a seemly gesture that the last British troops to leave India passed through the Gateway on their way out in a ceremony in 1948, marking the end of British rule.
If this historical monument is not enough, the kids can have a ride on horse carriage on the road between the Gateway and the iconic Taj Mahal Palace.
2) Take a boat trip
The seaport is just behind the gateway and it offers good opportunity for boat rides. From the Gateway of India, rides can be booked to Elephanta caves and Alibaug (Mandwa). One also has an option of a short boat ride on the Arabian sea, which gives a great view of the imposing Mumbai skyline and the Gateway of India, Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai docks and harbor.
We had taken a 1 hour ride into the Arabian sea from Girgaum.
We saw some lovely sea facing houses and beautiful yachts. It was really enjoyable day with the sun on the face, wind in the hair and a smile playing on our lips.
3) South Point
In my quest to get a perfect view of the famous Mumbai skyline, we reached South Point. The waterfront with the signature tetrapod near the sea wall was ideal.
It was not crowded and one could get a 270 degree view of the ocean at one point. Perfect for evening walk or for the children to run around and play. Blowing bubbles was a big draw.
Have the kacchi kaeri (raw mango) which the peddlers sell. Sitting there reminds you ..this is how you truly get a feel of Mumbai !
4) Hanging Garden
Built in 1880 and later renovated in 1921, Hanging Garden is dedicated to barrister Pherozeshah Mehta and is also known as “Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens”. This renowned garden located on the Western side of Malabar Hills is known for its lovely manicured terraced gardens, green vegetation and animal shaped topiaries.
It provides a panoramic view of the vast Arabian Sea. Given its orientation, you can imagine the sublime experience of watching a sunset from this point.
Interesting tidbit is that garden is built over the main Mumbai reservoir and is believed to have been built to protect the water from potential contamination from the nearby Towers of Silence (a circular, raised structure built by Zoroastrians for dead bodies to be exposed to carrion birds) !
The ‘Old woman’s shoe’ or the ‘Boot House’ is completely made from stone, which is also a very interesting feature and a favorite among children.
5) Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
Since its inception in 1999, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is an experience to be had. The 9 day long annual festival, commences on the first Saturday of February and closes on the second Sunday, in the Kala Ghoda area of South Mumbai. The Festival is organized by the non-profit Kala Ghoda Association, with an objective of making Kala Ghoda the Art District of Mumbai”. and curated by teams handling each of the 12 sections of the festival eg : visual arts, dance, music, theater, cinema, literature including children’s literature, workshops, heritage walks and a vibrant street section.
I had the opportunity to attend this once. The myriad stalls of eco-friendly hand made arts and crafts wares, the creative art installations, live band at the steps of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai – made the day very very memorable.
OK, my son could not have a real child experience as I could not plan ahead of time, though he thoroughly enjoyed the walk in the area and loved the bright hues in the street market. Well, he even danced to the music pelted by the band ! If you have luxury of time to plan, you could target children literature events, workshops or story telling !
Things you may want to know before the travel (Travel tips)
- For tips on when to visit Mumbai refer to my blogpost here
- There is no boat service to Elephanta caves on Mondays. Details of fare
- Hanging Garden can be reached by train and road
- To reach Hanging Garden by train, you need to get down at ‘Charni Road’ station, which is the 3rd station from south of western railway. Take a taxi from here, which will take about 15 to 20 minutes to reach
- Hanging Gardens is well-connected by roads. One can take the Walkeshwar Road and Ridge Road from Marine Drive to reach the gardens. Buses are available from the city but recommendation is to hire taxi or an auto-rickshaw
- Kala Ghoda Arts festival – Entry to all events is free
- Put on your comfortable walking shoes as you would love exploring this area on foot
- Carry a cap and sunglasses to keep the sun away. Use ample sunscreen to avoid skin burn
- Carry enough water with you to stay hydrated