Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Colaba Circuit with my best friend

As a child I was always excited to visit Town (the southern part of Mumbai as they say) for every other vacation. This is the place my mother's parents stayed. I was mesmerized by the Gothic style buildings and the tall ceiling rooms. There are more heritage buildings here, than any other part of the country. So I decided to take M on the "Colaba Circuit" (I like to call it that way!)

If you went on a vacation to some foreign country what would you like to see?... All the beautiful architechure, museum, restaurants, the market places and other sceneries.. right? I am sure very few of us have seen this part of their very own place, Mumbai.

Big Ben at the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus
We caught the local train and reached Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (the old Victoria Terminus) From there we took a double decker bus, one of the very few in the city that has a pleasant route. The bus no.138 passes through Flora fountain to Churchgate station and by the seaface to backbay. The cost seems meagre for the fantastic ride if you got the top front seat!

Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus
View of Marine Drive from the upper deck of Bus 138

After reaching Backbay depot which is the last stop of the ride, we went walking towards Afghan church. Built in the Gothic style, it was meant to be a garrison church to observe the memories of the British soldiers who lost their lives during the First Afghan War. We couldnt see it from inside as it is open only in the mornings. Just outside the church we were waiting for another bus to take us to Flora Fountain. It was little scary to see some Bats flying just above our heads. On the way we saw some old bunglows that were just adjusant to the sea.
St. John the Evangelist, The Afghan Church
Upside Down

Flora Fountain is the very heart of Mumbai, circumscribed by stately colonial buildings that stand like proud old sentinels of a bygone era. Flora is the Roman Goddess of Flowers. Next to her are a pair of torch bearing stone patriots that rise from the Martyrs Memorial nearby. Flora Fountain is now called Hutatma Chowk or Martyr's Square to honour those who died in the tumultuous birth of Maharashtra State.
Flora Fountain

Martyr's Square

We headed straight to St. Thomas Cathedral, Completed in 1718, is the first Anglican church in Mumbai to improve the "moral standards" of the growing British settlement. One of the gates in the Fort which the East India Company had built to protect their settlement was the entrance to the St. Thomas Church. It was called Churchgate. That is why the whole area towards the West of the Church is called “Churchgate” even today.

St. Thomas Cathedral

Beautiful stain glass painting

Heading towards the Asiatic Society, State Central Library. Before the town Hall, there comes the Horniman Circle, a circular garden that has some beautiful architechure building surrounding it.

The Asiatic Society, State Central Library
TOWN HALL houses one of the only two known original copies of Dante's Divine Comedy. The other copy is in Milan. In 1930, Mussolini offered one million pounds for the book, but the society refused. The book is a gift to the society by Monstuart Elphinstone, Governor of Bombay. In 2002, the Italian Minister for Culture visited the Asiatic Library, and confirmed that the book was in better shape than the one in Milan.
Bombay Stock Exchange

We were as hungry as a bear by that time and wanted to much some colaba speciality. I had worked for a design studio near the BSE and was found of the H. Parmeswar special sandwiches. so we walked to the outlet and enjoyed some of his specials. Felt fueled again!

We got late for the Prince of Wales Museum(The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay), so we decided take a glance at the Jehangir Art Gallery just opposite Regal Cinema. The best time to visit this place is during the Kala Ghoda Art Festival.
Heading to the David Sassoon Library, a Venetian Gothic styled structure, completed in 1870, forms part of an important ensemble of buildings, that are crucial for the image of the Fort Area. A small garden area and the lobby is all a non-member can see. The sketches in the lobby are awesome!

The David Sassoon Library

An Amazingly chilled out place called Cafe Monndegar with old style tables & chairs and Mario Miranda's cartoon reflection of life on the walls was just at the corner. Find many firangs here sitting and relaxing over few pints and listening to their fav tracks from the Juke box. There was a long waiting list, so we preferred strolling by the "Causeway"! Eyes glued to the antiques and accessories sold for a good bargain.
Cafe Monndegar 

Causeway Market
Antiques sold at Causeway

I got myself a made-to-order metal cut key chain as Memorandum of the date. I saw the whole process of it forming into a master piece. Within 20 mins it got bestowed in my valet for just 200 bucks.

You  &  ME

Just at the end of the road there is Kailash Parbat that allures passers-by with the aroma of of traditional Sindhi food. We had pani puri, Choley Bathure and butter dip Pav Bhaji. It serves delicious desserts too.
Kailash Parbat Sindhi Hotel

Pav Bhaji, Spicy gravy of vegetables with butter dip loaf

It was almost 10pm, very tired now and all we could think was to enjoy some peaceful time on the waterfront at Apollo Bunder. We took a cab to The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Luxury at its peak experienced at the roof top restaurant, SOUK. We soaked our souls slowly in an arabic ambience, sipping the aromatic Qawah and enjoying the panoramic view of the Arabian Sea.

Souk, the roof top restaurant at the Taj Palace Hotel
The view