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What to see in Mumbai – When we say visitors to Mumbai are over-stimulated in the best way, we're not exaggerating. Here's a guide to prepare you for the colorful experience of India's most populous city.
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Adventures for taste buds – Can one have too many chutneys in one go? Here's a papad sampler -- aloo papad, rice papad, applam, black pepper papad, banana chips, potato chips -- with a selection of chutneys from Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, a modern Indian restaurant in Mumbai. Our restaurant selections -- from molecular Indian food to traditional Gujarati thali joints -- can be found below.
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New landmark – Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, or Bandra-Worli Sealink, is an eight-lane 5.6-kilometer-long bridge linking Bandra and Worli in South Mumbai. Fully opened in 2010, the bridge has become one of the city's new landmarks.
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Gothic architecture in technicolors – The Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus is one of the most beautiful buildings in Mumbai. Some say the Gothic architecture looks best when lit up at night.
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Bollywood glamor – On top of being the richest and most populous city in India, Mumbai is home to Bollywood. Indian Bollywood actress Isha Sharvani (center in the picture) performed during the Hindu festival Janmashtami, the birth of Hindu god Lord Krishna, in Mumbai in 2014.
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The beach for the elephant-headed god – Chowpatty, a stretch of sand in Mumbai, hosts the annual festival of Ganesh. Indian Hindu devotees carry idols of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha and immerse them in the sea at the end of the 10-day festival as a part of a cleansing ritual.
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Chowpatty – Ganesh Chaturthi is usually celebrated between August and September. The rest of the year, the beach is popular among Mumbaikars, especially in the evening. At Café By The Beach customers can enjoy a sunset along with a fresh juice (no alcohol is served here).
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Army of dabbawalas – Not only is the city's iconic dabbawala (lunchbox-delivery) service still going strong, it's going digital this year. It's estimated that about 200,000 home-made tiffins are delivered to Mumbai office workers by a dabbawala or lunchbox deliveryman daily.
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Celebrate, Mumbai style – If there's one thing Mumbai knows, it's how to throw great parties. In March, this procession celebrated Gudhi Padva, or the Hindu new year for the people of Maharashtra state.
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End of Victorian carriages – Ornate Victorian-style horse-drawn carriages have been strolling Mumbai's streets since British colonial times. Earlier this year the government announced the carriages would soon cease operations in the city to protect animal welfare.
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CNN Insider Guides are thoroughly checked for accuracy. Given the fluid nature of the travel industry, however, some listings may fall out of date before guides can be updated. The best practice is to confirm current information on official websites before making plans to visit any business or attraction.
Mumbai, India (CNN)The best of Mumbai is heart-wrenching and energizing at the same time. Mumbai is India's richest and most populous city.
It's home to Bollywood and the nation's financial institutions. It also has the country's biggest slum. So when we say Mumbai is a city of extremes, it's not just for dramatic effect.
The juxtapositions can be difficult for some travelers, but they also can be inspiring. Visitors to the city are over-stimulated in the best way. Here's where to find the best of Mumbai.
Fruity and spicy punch (left) and a plate of tandoori pork spare ribs (right) start nights right at The Bombay Canteen.
Since its launch in February,The Bombay Canteen has swiftly become the city's favorite drinks and dining spot.
Fans love its vintage decor, which recalls old Bombay, and its creative rendering of regional Indian cooking.
The food is both familiar and unexpected.
Pulled pork vindaloo thepla (Indian flat bread) tacos, seafood bhel (puffed rice, vegetables, chutneys), kamal kakdi (lotus stem) chips, tandoori pork, masala chai popsicles with caramel sauce and rum-soaked gulab jamun (dumpling dessert made with thickened milk and rose-flavored syrup) -- there's not a bad line on the menu.
Even the alcohol isn't spared from the Indian twist.
The sharing bowl of punch -- you know punch is a drink that originated in India? -- is a bestseller among the restaurant's mixed-spiced cocktails.
The Bombay Canteen, Unit-1, Process House, Kamala Mills, near Radio Mirchi Office, S.B. Road, Lower Parel; +91 (0)22 4966 6666
South Mumbai seafood establishment Trishna gets the lion's share of attention from tourists and expats.
However, also a coastal spot, the underrated Gajalee has been serving worthy Malvani food and what's arguably the city's best tandoori crabs for years.
While it's a three-outlet chain, its most consistent branch is the old school Vile Parle flagship, where locals flock for fried bombil (Bombay duck) and spiced tisriya (clams) masala in addition to the crabs.
The "caviar" is actually jalebi -- a traditional sweet snack made by deep-frying wheat flour in ring shape.
Indian food is given the molecular treatment at this perennially booked fine dining restaurant.
What Masala Library lacks in ambiance it makes up for with its inventive plating and flavors.
Favorite selections include the silken butter chicken, sweet and pungent pepper and kokum glazed ribs, ghee roast lamb shank, chicken stuffed kulcha (a leavened bread) and the stellar Bhindi Jaipuri (a crispy Rajasthani salad) served on choorma (a wheat flour ball dessert).
Meals here are typically rich, but it's worth saving room for the jalebi (India's deep-fried pretzel) made as caviar, and the crowd-pleasing paan-flavored cotton candy served as a palate cleanser.
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, G/F, First International Financial Centre, G Block, Bandra East, opposite Sofitel Hotel, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East); +91 (0)22 6642 4142
Located at the ITC Maratha near the international airport, Dum Pukht is a trek for those staying in the heart of the city.
However, the food at this award-winning, best of Mumbai restaurant distinguishes it from all other Indian restaurants around.
Inspired by the cuisine of the Nawab of Awad, dishes are as intricate as they are heavy.
The inevitable food coma means you can forget about a night out after eating here.
House specialties are raan-e-dum pukht, a leg of lamb that melts in your mouth and dum pukht biryani, also made with lamb.
Dum Pukht, ITC Maratha Hotel, Sahar Road, Andheri East Andheri (E), Mumbai (Bombay) 400069 India; +91 22 2830 3030
There are also fancy seats at The Table.
The Table is Mumbai's top swank restaurant, the place to get the best of Mumbai's fine dining.
The menu mixes cuisines and styles, with a focus on fresh ingredients.
Small plates are the stars, from boneless chicken wings to spicy grilled calamari.
The slow-roasted New Zealand lamb shank is a reliably good selection.
For dessert, the fig and almond tart with cinnamon ice cream is worth busting your daily calorie quota for.
The Table is also a popular weekend brunch spot. It serves a killer warm cinnamon bun and blueberry pancakes.
You can't really claim to have eaten in Mumbai unless you've tried one of the city's famed Gujarati thali joints.
While each foodie has their favorite, we've been longtime regulars at this tiny but terrific restaurant in one of the city's most bustling markets, Kalbadevi.
It's hard to locate, but once you do you'll be rewarded with a heaving plate of seasonal vegetables, curries, fried snacks and desserts, made rich and delicious with ghee and a vibrant range of condiments.
The soporific meal is an excellent value -- you get unlimited top-ups on all of the dishes on your plate.
Swati Snacks serves the best of Mumbai street food in a hygienic setting.
The all-vegetarian menu is extensive -- everything from falafel to Mumbai street classics such as bhel puri.
Classic dishes include panki (steamed rice pancakes in a banana leaf), sev puri (sweet and savory snack) and pav bhaji.
If you want to avoid the crowds, early evening is the best time to visit.
Swati Snacks, undefined; +91 22 6580 8405
Britannia & Co.
Britannia & Co. is where Mumbaikars living abroad come for a taste of their childhoods.
They order multiple portions of Britannia's Parsi dishes, then transport the food to their overseas homes to be frozen and enjoyed later.
The menu comes from Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran. Some of it is adapted to suit local tastes in Mumbai.The chapatis are renowned. The berry pulav has a near-holy reputation. It's like a spicy Indian biryani, made with berries imported from Iran.
The best part is the warm hospitality of the Kohinoor family who started Britannia & Co. in 1923 and still personally greet diners each day.
Britannia & Co., Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road Wakefield House, Opposite New Custom House, Fort, Mumbai (Bombay) 400001 India;
Aer: The quintessential stop for cocktails with a view.
Aer has the best view of the Mumbai skyline.
On the 33rd floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, Aer is sleek and funky with uncomfortable but sexy white chairs and a white bar.
You'll pay a cover charge and wait in line on weekends when the bar turns into a dance floor.
An in-house DJ entertains the crowd till 3 a.m. on some nights.
If you want to see the view but avoid the crowd, the best time to arrive is around happy hour. There's half-price champagne from 5:30-8 p.m. A strict dress code is enforced -- no hats or open-toed shoes for men.
Housed within the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, this gift shop offers plenty of Mumbai memorabilia in addition to home decor items and handicrafts acquired from across India.
Particularly delightful is the selection of traditional Indian games, toys and coffee table books about the country.
It's a good place to buy best of Mumbai souvenirs: colorful bangles for the ladies, leather slippers for guys, cheesy T-shirts, fabric, saris, knickknacks and handicrafts.
Just walking through the Causeway -- even with no intention to buy -- is a cultural experience.
Mumbai's incredible entrepreneurial spirit calls to you in the form of zealous salespeople you encounter at every step.
Stops to tick off around Colaba include the Curio Cottage, just off the main road at Mahakavi Bhushan Marg near the Regal Cinema, where beautiful costume jewelry is sold.
Leopold Cafe & Bar, a landmark celebrated in Gregory Roberts' bestseller "Shantaram" is worth a visit if for no other reason than saying you were there.
Colaba Causeway, Colaba, Mumbai (Bombay) India;
Gateway of India
Gateway of India -- a visual synonym for Mumbai.
The Gateway of India is the city's most iconic landmark.
The arch overlooks the harbor on one side and the Taj Mahal Palace on the other.
Kids come to play in the harbor, couples come to romance each other, and, of course, tourists flock from all around the country and world. The monument was built to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V to India. It's also where the last of the British troops left the country in 1948.
Said to have been inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a closer look at the intricate details also shows Muslim and Hindu influences.
The Gateway is now used as a jetty for private boats and catamarans sailing to the islands of Alibaug and the Elephanta, where there are caves filled with Hindu and Buddhist carvings.
Gateway of India, Peninsula at end of C. Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Mumbai (Bombay) India;
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus)
"VT" is one of Asia's busiest train stations.
The imposing Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the best example of Gothic architecture in Mumbai and one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
It's always overflowing with people.
Originally built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, Chhatrapati Shivaji is now the busiest terminus in India for long-distance and commuter trains.
The railway station took 10 years to build and has intricate carvings inspired by both Indian and British culture.
The walls are covered in jungle scenes, with peacocks and monkeys. The carved lion (symbolizing Britain) and tiger (India's emblem) at the entrance of the building are especially photo-worthy.
At night, this best of Mumbai monument is lit up dramatically. Chhatrapati Shivaji is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Formerly called Victoria Terminus, the station is still locally known as "VT."
The Big Nasty, Shatranj Napoli Building, Second Floor, Union Park, Mumbai (Bombay) India;
Pri Shewakramani is a Mumbai-based writer. She was formerly an editorial consultant for Conde Nast Traveller India. Purva Mehra is the co-founder and editor at thedailypao.com, a Mumbai-based website that offers insights into the city's culture, food and shopping.