A gargantuan, pulsating metropolis that reinvents itself every time you blink, Mumbai is India’s most modern and most happening city. The best entertainment spots, the liveliest cultural melting pots, the yummiest meals at the most trendy cafés or the latest designer threads gracing the most beautiful people – Mumbai is where you’ll find them. Indeed, the city is getting a make-over unlike anything India has seen before, with more than 15 ‘supertalls’ – trade slang for skyscrapers over 300m – under construction in the northern suburbs.
Many travellers limit themselves to the historic neighbourhoods of south Mumbai and miss out on Mumbai’s modern cutting edge. Here’s a look at some of the sights and activities that help you to get under the cosmopolitan skin of India’s ‘Maximum City’.
Shop like a fashionista
Rising from the ashes of what was once a colonial cotton mill, High Street Phoenix (highstreetphoenix.com; 462 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel West) is Mumbai’s top destination for shopaholics, particularly those with a weakness for premium designer labels. Appealing to Mumbai’s icons of film, fashion and finance, this luxury shopping complex – the largest of its kind in the city – houses top global brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Jimmy Choo and Gucci. If you have any red carpet events coming up, this is the place to get kitted out in the latest catwalk chic. Refreshingly, High Street Phoenix also has a generous smattering of home-grown haute couture labels such as Rohit Bal (rohitbal.com) and Anita Dongre (andindia.com), whose gorgeous ethnic dresses and modern-medieval ensembles find their way onto the sales racks after being showcased at the Mumbai and Delhi fashion weeks.
Where India goes organic!
There are more cafés in Bandra than there are houses, or so locals like to claim. And to be fair, this posh neighbourhood in central Mumbai does indeed boast some of India’s best delis, coffee shops, snack bars, breakfast joints and tearooms, serving a divine range of espresso-based pick-me-ups and organic comestibles in cool and laid-back interiors. The trendiest name on this circuit is The Birdsong (Off Hill Rd, Bandra West), where life-affirming organic healthfood comes to your table in imaginative and tasty avatars, such as organic khichda (like kedgeree version 2.0) and vitamin-rich quinoa salad. Then there’s Yoga House (yogahouse.in; Sherly Rajan Rd), which supplements its yoga classes with wholesome vegan and vegetarian food, including famous salads, multigrain bread and hash browns with spinach and mozzarella. To pamper your sweet tooth, swing by Theobroma (Link Square Mall, Linking Rd), a satellite branch of the famous south Mumbai confectioner, for the best walnut brownies and vanilla cinnamon custard tarts in town.