Mumbai, or back in the day Bombay, has gotten ample coverage in Bollywood movies and songs, however, there’s much more to the city than the cinematic portrayal of it. From the stunning Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus with its Victorian era influence, the spiritual Haji Ali, a national park in the middle of the city, to the seaside promenades, and those charming fishing villages, and the East Indian houses in Bandra, no other city has such a multitude of experiences to savour. But we all know that Mumbai can also max out your wallet. We have put together a list of 10 free things to do in Mumbai that will allow you to savour the essence of the city and not put a dent in your budget. Bookmark this for your next visit.
Paint It Red With A Street Art Trail
Mumbai is known for kickass street art. The breezy and hip suburb of Bandra West is a great place to see some of the best. From the walls of the narrow lanes in Chapel Road to buildings in Bandra Reclamation, a host of different styles can be spotted.
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Spend a day spotting public art from ones on popular OTT series to Bollywood legends. This area started becoming an artistic playground around 2014, and now encompasses graffiti pieces from artists all over the world.
Address: Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
Know More About Mumbai At The Asiatic Society
The steps of the Asiatic Society Town Hall have been the setting for many photo-ops. Located at Horniman Circle, facing a garden, it has the Bombay Asiatic Society which consists of the Asiatic Society Library, the State Central Library, a museum, and even a cosy post office. The space houses some 3.5 lakh books including the original manuscript of Dante’s 14th century poem, Divine Comedy, and a 16th century Sanskrit manuscript of the Mahabharata. Note the Neo-Classical architecture which inludes the famous stark white Ionic columns, said to be inspired by a Greek temple. The Town Hall was the hub of cultural events in Bombay during the pre-Independence era. Look out for the many magnificent skylights which would let in air and light as there was no electricity when it was built. Look closely at architectural details, such as the flooring of the Asiatic Library which used Burma teak wood. Several fittings were made with cast iron imported from England.
Address: Town Hall, Shahid Bhagat Singh Rd, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400023
A Picnic Date At The Maidan
Plan a trip to Cross Maidan Gardens in Marine Lines, pack some sandwiches and juice, go on a picnic, and breathe in the fresh air. The smaller Cross Maidan, located just north of the more well known Oval Maidan (near Churchgate station), was named after an antique stone cross in the park's northern section which once housed a Portuguese church. In 2010, the Cross Maidan garden was renovated, and it now hosts several interesting installations, sculpture and art spaces. The park is surrounded by multiple attractions like the futuristic Steel Charkha of Mahama Gandhi, the tranquil 18th-century Bhikha Behram Well, and (on the western side) the foodies heaven called Khau Gali.
Address: WRQH+8XQ, Mahatma Gandhi Road, New Marine Lines, Marine Lines, New Marine Lines, Marine Lines, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400020
A National Park In The Middle Of The City
They are set inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park which is a unique thing. It is a bona fide forest, replete with endemic flora and fauna, smack bang in the middle of the country’s busiest, most cramped city. Once occupying a diminutive 20 sq km area and known as the Krishnagiri National Park early in the previous century, the park was expanded several decades later, and renamed the Borivali National Park. Renamed yet again in 1981, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park now sprawls across more than 100 sq km, occupying some 20 per cent of Mumbai’s land area. The park is part of the Western Ghats biodiversity complex and is home to an estimated 1,300 species of flowering plants and a large number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. Leopards are a fairly frequent sighting at the park–and outside it too, as the human residents of the surrounding neighbourhood recount. You can also go for some paddle-boating at the Vihar and Tulsi Lakes, or hike to the Gandhi Tekdi, or hang out at the butterfly park. One of the earliest examples of excellent rock-cut architecture in the Western Ghats are the Kanheri Caves located in the park. Housing a collosal Buddha statue that dates back to the period between the 5th and 6th centuries, they are believed to have influenced the Elephanta Caves.
Timings: The caves are open from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm for visitors. The park is closed on Mondays, but you can still visit Kanheri Caves.
The Knight And Shining Armor Of Forts
The Bandra Area of Mumbai houses multiple memorable experiences like the famous Bandstand Promenade (do not miss the crowds outside Shahrukh Khan's house), the Bandra and Worli forts, hipster cafes, watering places in every nook and corner, churches, jaw-dropping views of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Worli skyline from the old Bandra Fort. The Portuguese-built Bandra Fort is a watchtower overlooking Mahim Bay to the south, the Arabian Sea to the west, the Worli islands to the south, and Mahim town to the southwest. It is a great place to weave in all the old war stories in your head. And sunsets are marvellous here.
Address: Byramji Jeejeebhoy Road, Bandstand Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
A Walk With The Stars
Take a walk around the Bandra Bandstand area - it is a fairyland for all movie buffs. There’s a section that pays tribute to major Bollywood stars with a Walk of Stars inspired from the one in LA. Six iconic Bollywood actors are represented by statues, while 100 brass plates with handprints and signatures of Bollywood stars are stamped here. Check out the fans who come to nearby Mannat and Galaxy, the homes of two of the most loved Bollywood heroes, Sharukh and Salman Khan. The stars do stroll out to wave at fans sometimes. If you get lucky, you may spot other celebrities out for a jog along the promenade.
Address: Bandstand Promenade, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
Ride The Bull Of Aspirations
It would be unfair to visit the city of dreams and not take a dekko at Dalal Street and the Bombay Stock Exchange. Founded in 1875 by cotton merchant Premchand Roychand, a Rajasthani Jain industrialist, the BSE is among Asia's (and the world's) oldest stock exchanges. Watch the air get electric with ambitions between 9 am to 3 pm.
Address: Corporate Office. BSE Limited Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers Dalal Street Mumbai- 400001
Watch The Sunset At Marine Drive
The best free place to visit in Mumbai is the arc-shaped bay-side boulevard in South Mumbai. Marine Drive runs along the Arabian Sea and is undoubtedly the greatest place to enjoy spectacular sunsets and take leisurely walks. The location becomes much more appealing in the evenings when the stunning view of the setting sun adds to its allure. The entire crescent-shaped shoreline is illuminated with shimmering lights that look like a string of pearls at night, earning it the nickname of "Queen's Necklace."
A Garbage Dump Turned Into A Nature Park
The Mahim Nature Park used to be a garbage dump till 1983. Now, experts from all over the world are visiting the MNP to see how so many trees could flourish on a dumping area. The Mahim Creek, on the park's outskirts, is home to a thick evergreen mangrove forest now where one can find migratory and aquatic birds that come to India during the winter months of January and February. Many naturalists conduct walks here from time to time.
Address: Mahim Nature Park, Dharavi, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400017
A Day On The Beach
Mumbai has several beaches you can hang out at. The famous Juhu Beach is usually crowded or filled with the garbage left by visitors. Instead visit Aksa or Gorai - they are quieter. It may take up some commute time to reach. Even though these beaches are far, the peaceful ambience is worth it. Aksa Beach, located on the edges of Malad's western sector, is one of Mumbai's cleanest beaches. This vast spread of sand offers a peaceful respite from the bustle of daily life and is ideal for unwinding. The islands’ churches, fort, small dining halls and ferry rides provide a perfect weekend escape plan.
How to reach: Aksa beach is approximately 9 km from Malad station and 12 km from Borivali Ssation. Gorai is approximately 3 km from Borivali.
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