Chasing Sunsets in Mumbai

Chasing Sunsets in Mumbai

I must admit that I have not spent as much time in Mumbai as I would like. Whenever I have visited, it’s always been for just a quick, overnight stop. Today, instead of arguing with airlines and chasing missed flight connections, I am going to be calm and take a walk down memory lane and to the nostalgic sunsets in and around  Mumbai. So, off we go!

Lets go, Mumbai!


Why Mumbai?

You mean, why are we chasing sunsets in Mumbai? Well, simply put, I recently came across some very stunning and surreal pictures of orange-filled, golden skies in and around this people-packed city. It would not be right for me to keep them all for myself.

Striking! Splendid evening at the beach.
  

First, Tell Me Something About Mumbai.

Well, many know Mumbai as Bombay. The first two things I noticed in Mumbai were ‘opportunities’ and ‘reality’. These are two small words in a big city of hope, and both words direct each individual in a different direction. Briefly put, Mumbai is the business, finance, and entertainment capital of India, and the lives of most people are intertwined around these parts of life.

The sun over the city of opportunities.


Like in many large, growing Asian cities, Mumbai is very crowded, mostly with people and vehicles. Standstill traffic is not uncommon. With large crowds come intensified noise. Believe me when I say it’s loud! There are not only the vehicle honks and train whistles enveloping the city, but also the pop and classical beats that will mysteriously get you moving. Soft-spoken people need to speak up. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait forever for your order of Pau Bhaaji and ginger-masala chai (tea). 

Now, did you hear that? ‘Lights. Camera. Roll. Take one…. Cut! ’.  You are right, we are in Bollywood, the movie capital of Asia. Spot any of your favourite stars yet? Keep looking.

Spotted one!


Then comes the lovely mix of bold colours that forms the heart of this city—the people of Mumbai. I always make it a point to stress about the people in Reaching Delphi. It’s the people of the town who make a difference. The same is true of Mumbai.  People from all states of India come to this melting pot of opportunities with renewed hope. When they arrive, they bring along with them their faith, language, culture, and packaged masalas (spice).  What is instantly visible is the  contrasting reality between the haves and have nots, side by side.


Contrasting harmony of Mumbai.


Today, I too have caught the Bombay-rush bug, so we will visit some beautiful places around the Gateway of India before sunset. To take us there is my cousin Karthik, who grew up and rode his cycle and motorbike on these century-old neighbourhood streets. Though today he lives a few seas away, you will find many of his stunning shots, taken during his recent few visits to Mumbai, in this post.

We’ll start with some coffee at Mumbai airport. Look familiar? That’s from the time I missed my flight to Delhi.

 
Outbound flight. Inbound coffee.



Where is Mumbai?

Mumbai, or Bombay, is in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is in western centre of the Indian sub-continent, with borders to the Arabian Sea in the west. It is broken down to two revenue districts, Mumbai City District (Island City or South Mumbai) and Mumbai Suburban District. There are two major ports within these districts (Mumbai Port and Nava Sheva Port). 

Source : https://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/maharashtra/maharashtralocation.htm)

How Do You Get to Mumbai?

There are several feasible options. Here are just a few:

Nostalgic evening in Mumbai
  • Plane: Flying in is probably the quickest option to get to Mumbai if you are travelling from another city. You get to beat the hour-long traffic jams. The main airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International, and it’s considered one of the busiest airports in the world. It also ranks as one of my favourites for its selection of local cuisine.


Fly me away!

  • Train: You can reach Mumbai from any part of India. Several train stations are servicing the city. The two main stations are Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (VT) and Mumbai Central. Mumbai is relatively large, so if you are travelling by train, note the nearest departure and arrival stops. By the way, did you know that the first commercial railway service was between VT and Thane in Mumbai in 1853?

  
Indian Rails : Never leave without a chai.

  • Road: Taxi, bus, and self-drive services are readily available. Mumbai has one of the better highways and expressways in the country. You’ll find clean rest areas and restaurants along the way.   

 
Chai and coffee stop at the rest area.
  

Travelling within Mumbai.


  • Taxi/Ola/Uber/car: These are reasonably priced and always available. Did you know that Uber does more than offer taxi services? You can also opt for an Ola auto-rickshaw through them!
Notice Virat Kohli endorsing Uber Intercity?  That’s one hot chap!

Traffic at the toll, Mumbai --> Pune.


  • Auto-rickshaw: Hail one or book one through a booking app. This is a very convenient option for short distance travel.


Auto-rickshaw traffic. 

  • Trains – Three lines provide service in the city. Train travel is one of the most common ways to get around domestically. Due to its popularity, it is very packed, especially in economy classes. The Mumbai DabbaWalas also use these trains to deliver the box lunches to offices. Just a note, the DabbaWala delivery service has a 99.9% on-time delivery record each day, so if you haven’t heard of the famous Mumbai-DabbaWala system, then it’s time to google them.
  • Bikes/Motorbikes – These are common in the city, and they can be rented easily. But do be careful of traffic; as you can see here, the onions are far more important.


Costly onions.

  • Metro – Metro travel covers the western and eastern suburbs of the city.
  • Monorail – There is just one monorail line servicing within the town.
  • Ferry – Travellers can opt for ferry services for their intra-city travel. Looking for more adventure? Take a boat ride on one of these colourful boats at the Gateway of India. Those colours reflect the different colours in every day. Well, go on, pick your boat, and make a new friend.

Different colours, different lives.

Speaking of colours, did I mention that Karthik is an artist too? Here is one of his sketches. Quick, hurry! Hail an auto to the beach! 

Jump on. Honk! Honk!


Language

The official language of the state and city is Marathi. Since Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city, you will also notice that Hindi and other Indian languages and dialects are spoken. Don’t worry too much if you are not familiar with any of them. You can get by with English. 

Where Do You Stay in Mumbai?

Mumbai offers a wide array of hotel options to suit any budget. Though there are plenty, the right hotels at reasonable prices get snapped up fast, so be quick when deciding.

Look here! In the distance is the luxurious Taj Hotel just near the Gateway of India. We are heading to the Gateway next for a quick stop.

Hold on tight!


Gateway of India.

The Gateway of India is one of the most well-known landmarks in Mumbai. This nearly century-old monument sits grandly overlooking the Mumbai Harbour. The monument (on the left) was constructed in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay (Mumbai). The gateway is one of the tourist hotspots in the city.  

Gateway of India.


Notice the building on the right? That is the famous Taj Hotel, my cousin’s first workplace in hotel management. Now you can understand the long-term connection the Taj and the Gateway he has. This spot is the confluence of work, pleasure, and the future, as he puts it. And just as for many other Mumbaiites, this is one of the spots in the city to watch glorious sunsets that can inspire you to make crucial decisions in life.

What do you do if you are too early for the sunset? Watch the pigeons! 😊  

Dancing with the pigeons at the Taj.


Sun Sea and Sand in Mumbai

There is a lot to cover in and around Mumbai, and a short trip is not going to be sufficient. But with the little time in hand, you will find a lot of comfort in the calmness of the beaches in this big vibrant city. The best part is you don’t need to travel too many miles to get there. Mumbai has a long coastal line, so the Arabian Sea may just be a few meters away from you.     

Who is that on my beach?


The Juhu Beach is also right at the heart of Mumbai. This is a very popular after-work retreat where endless shades of citrus filled skies meet. Here, life zooms by.

I come to you, Mumbai.


Mumbai, as I mentioned earlier, is the commercial and financial capital of India, so naturally, you will see masses of people filling in busses and trains each morning to punch their cards on time. Everyone! The IGens. The Echo Boomers. The MTV Generation. The Silent Generation. But when the heat of the rush gets in the way, and you can’t make it for the sunset, you need an escape plan. How about a sunrise to welcome the day instead? The serene sunrise at Nagaon Beach, just 9 kilometres away from central Mumbai, is the perfect respite.

Where am I? Mumbai, really?



Below are more shots taken in the morning at Nagaon Beach.  The past, present, and the open future are there all in one take.


The past, present and future. Time to explore beyond.


Or, perhaps you may want to look further and deeper through the fog for some clarity while you are here. And, if it gets too misty, how about following these markers to where it takes you  ...

Follow where the markers lead you to....


After witnessing a glorious sunrise and having some hot steamy coffee, we noticed a few others also taking a stroll on the beach. What a brilliant way to start the day. A heated discussion in a misty morning.

Misty Mumbai start.


We followed them. ‘We need a better view. How do we get there as planned?’ I imagined they were saying.


Sherlock Holmes on duty, follow 'em.


Their plans got a lot clearer, and so did the weather. Decisions were made. Solutions had been found. The sun was out again.

Puzzle solved, the day and minds are aligned.


It’s time to get back to the Gateway. So, jump onto a catamaran at the jetty.

That's my ride.


An active environmentalist and nature lover himself, Karthik informed me that the beaches were not always as clean as what we see in the photos today. The city’s beaches were once smothered with plastic and rubbish. About three and a half years ago, a local Mumbaiite, Afroz Shah, kicked off the world’s largest beach clean-up project. What a great effort! Watch this short video here to see more.

Cleaner beaches for us and the turtles today.


With each sunset, there is renewed hope for something even better and more colourful the next day. Expectations come from our imaginations and create surreal realities.

Stay positive. May your tomorrows start today with the sunrise of hope and conscience, only to be completed with beautiful sunsets.

Karthik, the sunrises and sunsets are surreal! Thank you for showing us around Mumbai.  See you again, Mumbai.  Counting Stars, Reaching Delphi.

Good night Mumbai.



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