“Among Mumbai’s suburbs, Bandra is the prettiest,” a friend once remarked to me. With its quaint bungalows, lanes dotted with bougainvillea and air thick with the scent of the sea, it is known as the queen of Mumbai suburbs. It is flanked by iconic promenades along the sea at Carter Road and Bandstand. At the tip of Bandstand is the Castella De Aguada, or Bandra fort, which is a watchtower built by the Portuguese in 1640. A walk up to the top will offer you a spectacular view of the Bandra-Worli sea link. It’s especially beautiful in the early morning or evening.
Many Bollywood stars have swanky sea-facing bungalows or flats in this area and on weekends it’s not unusual to find crowds gathered outside their residences. Traffic literally stops near the homes of Bollywood’s bad boy Salman Khan and the living legend Shah Rukh Khan. Moving away from celebrity homes, one finds the young and old strolling, jogging or taking selfies on the promenades. They come from different parts of Mumbai to spend time here watching the setting sun while munching on delectable street food.
The fisherfolk near Carter Road are the original inhabitants of this suburb. Yes, swanky Bandra used to be a fishing village. The fishing community is the keeper of stories older than the 400-year-old St. Andrew’s Church. There are feasts graciously organised and dedicated to the patron Saints of our churches. One such is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, popularly known as Mount Mary Church, that hosts the annual festival every September.
The interior streets of Bandra will take you on a street shopping whirlwind. Dedicated street shoppers will find clothes and accessories from high street brands such as Zara and H&M at throwaway prices. Just a few minutes away is the bustling bazaar for fresh spices, fruits and vegetables. If you need to fuel up for more shopping, stop by at Elco, one of Mumbai’s famous chaat (Indian savouries) destinations. Sample a plate of pani pooris. They are crispy, bite-sized puffed bread made of wheat flour stuffed with a mint and spices flavoured juice, tamarind chutney and potatoes or sprouts. Yes, one plate will not be enough!
In yet another iconic cafe of Bandra, one will find Bun Maska - a large soft bun slathered with butter - that pairs perfectly well with chai. Or, Kheema pao - kheema is minced mutton slow-cooked with Indian spices and pao is the local bread. If you’re hungry for more, do plan a trip to Mumbai and I will show you the place that I call home.
Maya paints an evocative picture of this one small piece of her fascinating city! Thanks Maya...anyone planning to visit Mumbai in 2019 (and beyond!) should get in touch with her to design the perfect day.