The Maximum City can seem chaotic and confusing thanks to its size, but it is one giant playground with some pretty incredible and memorable experiences. Here's a list of five fun things you can do if you are travelling to Mumbai with kids.
Check Out A 100 Year Old Museum
If time travel is your jam, hit up the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS). Set in a beautiful garden, this 100-year-old Grade 1 heritage museum is an enthralling space for kids and grown-ups alike. A stroll around takes you through artefacts from the Indus Valley to Indian miniature paintings, and collections of ancient costumes.
Check out more here.
Pro Tip: A 10-minute walk from here will bring you to Jehangir Art Gallery. Outside, on the pavements, sit several artists who can create a marvellous caricature of you (and your family) in a matter of minutes. That's your Mumbai trip preserved forever - and it's so much more unique than a photograph.
On Top Of The World
See Mumbai in all its glory with a brilliant double-decker bus tour (insert Harry Potter references right here!). The roughly one-hour ride takes you mostly through South Bombay, past iconic Raj-era buildings - you can reach out your hand and touch some of those grotesque but fascinating gargoyles that adorn them. (On an aside, check out Shabnam Minwalla's YA book What Maya Saw: A Tale of Shadows, Secrets, Clues which has some stuff about the gargoyles). Enjoy the sea breeze as you drive along Marine Drive and Girgaon Chowpatty. Watch out for the Gothic, 85 meters tall Rajabai clock tower. The stretch on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link has some jaw-dropping views. It would be nice to have the ride on a classic, red double decker buses, this one is a blue. Still, one can't have it all.
Pro Tip: Book tickets in advance (available from Tuesday to Friday) at the Gateway of India MTDC Counter. You can book on the spot, but seats may be sold out. You can find more information about the rides here. Check out BookMyShow for tickets.
Where The Wild Things Are
We are going to send you to a school on your holiday - sacrilege, we know. But St Xavier's in Kalbadevi is something quite special. The 142-year-old heritage building houses a vast natural history collection across three floors - probably the only school to have anything like this. The collection includes whale bones, birds, and stuffed tigers donated by former students like the Maharaja of Bansda and Rajabahdur of Ajaigarh. But the most fascinating part about the school can be found in the garden, mounted on a stone platform - a propeller piece of a ship that exploded and landed in the school iduring the famous Bombay Docks Explosion of 1944.
Pro Tip: Read about the explosion - known as the 'day it rained gold' - in writer Jerry Pinto's YA book - Postcards From Bombay.
Stop For A Refresher
Take a breather at one of Mumbai's timeless Irani or Parsi cafes - most of them boast a legacy of more than 100 years. While there, make sure to have a swig at the fiery red, sweetish Raspberry Soda of Pallonji’s. Founded in 1865, it predates Coke and Pepsi. More about it here.
Pro Tip: Round off your snack time with an ice cream at K. Rustom & Co - a charming, old-school, Iranian ice-cream parlour off Nariman Point. They have been doing the freshest ice-cream biscuits since 1953 - served in thick slabs and sandwiched between wafer biscuits, all wrapped up and served in butter paper.
On A Jungle Trail
Did you know that Mumbai is the only city with a national park? The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) within city limits has more butterfly and bird species than in all of the UK. Located in the city’s northern suburbs, it is home to over 170 species of butterflies and more than 250 species of birds. Cool off by the banks of the gushing streams, go on a history trail to the rock-cut Kanheri cave temples, or trek to Jambhulmal, the highest point in Mumbai, which offers some fine views. The 2-km Shilonda Trail is the most popular of SGNP’s five hikes, and takes one through dense forest crisscrossed by a forest stream that rages in the monsoon. You could even come across leopard pugmarks and spot chitals and civets here. The Malad Trail is longer, and runs along the park’s western edge. It may be a bit of a distance to get to, but Mumbai has several other parks with walking trails worth exploring. Check them out here.
Pro Tip: Ride the Van Rani, or toy train complete with miniature railway station across the 2.5 km track to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial on the 620-feet Pavilion Hill.