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If there’s one city capable of challenging even the most intrepid traveller, it’s Mumbai.

The subcontinent’s most populous metropolis is a frantic mix of skyscrapers and slums, an intoxicating attack on the senses that bounces the visitor from traffic-clogged streets to sweat-soaked nightclubs by way of stinking open sewers.

Day 1

9:00 Throw yourself into the mix by haggling for a street food breakfast. Walas (vendors) can be found on every street corner, but you’re guaranteed a good selection along Colaba Causeway.

Try vada pav (about 10p); this spiced fried potato in bread is a Mumbaikar take on the veggie burger. Wash it down with a cup of chai – milky, sugary tea for about 5p. Bargain.

10:00 Walk from here to the Gateway of India: an 85ft-high arch built to commemorate King George V’s visit in 1911.

The dramatic landmark is so named because it was the first glimpse of Mumbai for those arriving by boat. 

11:00 Hop on the ferry from the Gateway of India and take the 45-minute ride to Elephanta Island (£1.20 return trip, plus £3 entry) to marvel at the Elephanta Caves.

There are two sets, one Hindu and one Buddhist. Both boast ancient stone carvings, some of which date back to 5AD. Watch out for the monkeys that live on the island; they’ll fearlessly snatch snacks out of your hand if you’re not careful.

14:30 Back in the city, head for a lunch of Indian, Chinese or continental grub at the legendary Leopold Cafe (meals from £2), which is an institution for backpackers and expats.

15:30 Time to take in some art. Flag down a rickshaw, and ask to be taken to the Jehangir Art Gallery (entry free) in the Kala Ghoda Art Precinct, a district full of museums and galleries.

Celebrating its 60th birthday this year, the Jehangir displays contemporary Indian works. Outside is the Pavement Gallery, where you can chat to young artists who display their art along the road.

18:00 Grab dinner at Jehangir’s restaurant, The Samovar (meals from £3). The colonial-era decor and manicured grounds of the neighbouring Prince of Wales Museum give a sense of what old Bombay might have been like.

20:00 Pop into the relaxed Woodside Inn (beer £2.60, cocktails £3.50) for an after-dinner tipple. This cosy spot is always full of chatty regulars.

22:00 Once you’ve had a few, move onto Bonobo (cocktails from £4.65, beer £1.50).

This classy, compact bar is a hit for its impressive cocktail selection: if the menu isn’t enough for you, you’re even allowed to mix your own at their “interactive bar”.


Weekend in Mumbai: From the spiritual Haji Ali Dargah to shopping mecca Chor Market
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