I landed in the city via plane from Hyderabad. My short, 48 hours in Mumbai was mainly spent in the Colaba area. Marked by a memorable hotel experience, here’s a rough guide for exploring the financial, commercial, and entertainment center of India.
Table of Contents
- Jump right into seeing the Gateway of India
- Marvel and have a meal at the Taj Mahal Palace
- Window shop or try a café at Colaba Causeway
- Fancy some art at the Jehangir Art Gallery
- Be in awe of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
- Walk around and appreciate beautiful, historical buildings
Mumbai is on Bombay Island, surrounded by multiple bodies of water. Colaba being its southernmost point. After Delhi, Mumbai is the most populous city in India with a population of 19.98 million.
Interestingly, the city took its name from Mumba, a local goddess and one of the principal deities of Hinduism. It became known as Bombay during the British Colonial Period until 1995 when the use of Mumbai was restored officially.
A very bustling place, Mumbai displays the highs and lows of a highly urbanized city. It offers tourists a peak into an energetic coalesce of riches and slums, crowds and forests, modern buildings and colonial era architecture, temples and nightlife.
My 48 hours in Mumbai was very quick. I unintentionally had to check in at a 5-star hotel due an unsettling incident at the hotel I initially booked. Read about my experience here! So, staying true to my budget-conscious self, I stayed most of the time in my hotel room. Why? To make the most of what I paid for, of course. 😂
However, I still did see a couple of spots. Within walking distance of each other, here are those:
Jump right into seeing the Gateway of India
Undoubtedly the most iconic and famous landmark in Mumbai. The Gateway of India is a historical monument built in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. Facing the Arabian Sea, the structure served as the arrival point for visitors from the west. Ironically, it was also the site of the symbolic exit of the British from India in 1948.
Defining the richness of Mumbai’s history and culture, the Gateway of India features an Indo-Saracenic design with Gujarati influences. Today, locals and tourists swarm the area, Indianizing what was once a product of colonialism.
My first hotel was a stone’s throw away from the Gateway of India so naturally I walked to get there. I went when the sun was about to set so it wasn’t so hot. For visitors, entrance is free, and it is open 24 hours. But yes, do expect crowds! If you’re planning to go to Elephanta Caves, you can ride a motorboat from there.
Marvel and have a meal at the Taj Mahal Palace
Overlooking the Gateway of India is the Taj Mahal Palace, a grand 5-star luxury hotel that stood the test of time. It has been hosting royalties, dignitaries, and renowned personalities since 1903. This heritage hotel boasts world-renowned hospitality and an outstanding mix of tradition and modernity.
Elegantly designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, the Taj Mahal Palace marks Mumbai’s harbor. In the 1970s, the new Tower rose, adding more rooms for visitors. Rising from the 2008 terrorist attacks, non-hotel guest tourists can do more than admire its façade. People can join daily heritage tours or have a sumptuous dining experience at one of its finest restaurants.
I visited the Taj on my first day in Mumbai. I didn’t know that I would end up staying in its Tower for the rest of my trip. If you haven’t read about my scary hotel experience, then do so here! Even if you’re not much of a luxury traveler, do still drop by for a cup of tea or dinner. Enjoy good food and a bit of fanciness! I surely did.
Window shop or try a café at Colaba Causeway
It takes only about 15 minutes to get to Colaba Causeway from the Taj or Gateway of India. Once there, get ready for some treat! Locals call it “Colaba Market” or its official name of Shahid Bhagat Singh Road. The commercial street is full of eccentric shops, great food, and old-world charms.
Linking Colaba and the Old Woman’s Island, the causeway is a lively section of South Mumbai. It is sure to pique your interest in and thirst for finding bargains and learning about the past.
While walking around the area, I chanced upon Le15 Café for some Paris charm in Mumbai. I enjoyed the coffee and dessert while I took a rest from being out all day. Colaba Causeway offered a lot, making my 48 hours in Mumbai worthwhile. This is the place for you if you are a person who likes to see:
- Interesting home décors, clothes, shoes, and accessories
- Historical architecture
- The hustling and bustling of a hot cultural spot
Fancy some art at the Jehangir Art Gallery
Founded in 1952 by Sir Cowasji Jehangir, the Jehangir Art Gallery is “one of Mumbai’s premier and oldest art institutions.” Now being managed by the Committee of Management, its history is linked with the renaissance of Indian art.
Hosting works of numerous Indian artists over the years, the gallery is located in the Kala Ghoda neighborhood. In close proximity are the National Gallery of Modern Arts, The Arts Trust, other small galleries, designer boutiques, and cafés.
There was an ongoing construction when I visited on November 2018. So, it was a bit noisy and dusty at the entrance. Otherwise, the galleries during the time were nice. Besides the free entrance, they were also giving out free chai to visitors. I found the Jehangir Art Gallery a relaxing way to past the time while discovering the great works of local artists.
Hours, fees, and some tips
- See here if you want to visit the Jehangir Art Gallery official website.
- The Gallery is open every day from 11am to 7pm.
- Entry is free.
- The address is 161B MG Rd., Kala Ghoda, Mumbai. (You can easily search on Google Maps for the fastest way to go there wherever you are. Then again, if you’re in the Colaba area, everything is walkable.)
- Do be mindful of the art sellers surrounding the area. They could be a little pushy. 😀
Be in awe of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is located at the heart of Mumbai. It is a fine example of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture, mixed with Hindu and Islamic styles. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it catapulted Mumbai as a “Gothic City” and a major international port of the subcontinent since 1888.
“The structure represents the heart of the mercantile facet of the city and also symbolizes the British Commonwealth.” Today, the Victoria Terminus Station (its former name) is used by more than three million commuters daily, both going on short and long-distance travel.
I arrived at the terminus through an Uber. When I got off the car, its imposing magnificence blew me away. The architecture, its intricate grandeur, was very well-preserved. Inside, the bustling crowd were going about their days. But it wasn’t difficult to feel the weight of history the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus has gone through and survived from. Highly recommend this place!
Walk around and appreciate beautiful, historical buildings
Finally, if you don’t have a highly strict itinerary, then I suggest you take the time to just walk around. The hotel incident shook me that I didn’t feel like doing touristy things afterward.
For the rest of my 48 hours in Mumbai, I just admired the gorgeous colonial buildings while walking around South Mumbai. I found the following beautiful gems!
Looking back, allotting 48 hours in Mumbai was definitely not enough to get a truly authentic feel of the city. In fact, I didn’t even get to see and do “Bollywood-related” stuff—and I’m familiar with some films! I can’t wait to explore Mumbai again when I get the chance.
I hope you’ve found something useful! If you’re planning a trip in India, don’t forget to check out my other posts about my 2018 India holiday here:
- What to Do in Kolkata? A List of 7 Things (Itinerary)
- Top Tourist Places in Hyderabad: 6 Cultural Spots to Visit (Itinerary)
- Why is the Rice in Indian KFC Filled with Hot Spices? #cry (Personal, food-related story)
- Beware of This Hotel in Mumbai, India! (Personal)