Gothic buildings with extraordinary sculptures, old cafes with checkered tablecloths, stores as old as the antiques they sell, posh restaurants and luxury brands — the comfort of the old with the edginess of the new, that is Colaba for you.
The oldest part of the city, and the most beautiful, offers something new every time you visit it. From the exotic trees at BPT garden to the little eateries that line Colaba Causeway, the best way to explore the area is on foot.
You can begin at Colaba Causeway with breakfast at Mondegar and admire the buxom ladies painted by Mario Miranda on the café’s walls. Go further down and you can shop for everything under the sun from antique clocks to crazy fridge magnets. Hop over to the other side and walk to the Gateway of India, take a Polaroid photograph too just for kicks. Watch the little fishing boats and magnificent private yachts from the promenade or just take a quick ferry ride. Step into the Taj Hotel for some luxury browsing at the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior showrooms. Head back to the Causeway and catch a movie at Regal, one of the few theatres that have not become a multiplex. You can walk along stopping wherever you want, but do not miss the Afghan Church, a beautiful example of the early Victorian splendour, at the end of the Causeway.
To add to the fun, note down the bizarre street names such as Battery Street and Mereweather Road — each of which have some interesting background.
If you want to try something different take a boat to Colaba Fort. The Siddhivinayak Temple at the fort is also worth a visit. Divya Singh, who grew up in Colaba remembers the Sundays she spent at the fort with family. “We would spend hours at the fort with my father since he was in the Navy. The view is magnificent,” said Singh.
The ‘to do’ list is endless, but residents have their own secret places away from the bustle. Jumana Dohadwala (22), a resident, prefers the silence of Sagar Upvan (BPT Garden). “I love sitting at one of the several look-out points in the garden with lovely garden seats and simply staring at the sea. It has a very calming effect and is a great spot for meditation,” said Dohadwala.
The David Sassoon Library is also worth a visit not only for its collection of books, but also for its timeless Victorian architecture. Built by Albert Sassoon and named after his father, this Gothic building has been catering to thousands of readers since 1870. “The library feels like this chamber with lots of hidden secrets and doorways. It’s a great place to find some peace and quiet and read a classic”, said Shreya Nair, 25, a Colaba resident.
For party hopper Aashna Sangani, Colaba’s club scene is exciting. “Prive is an exclusive club. It’s one of the few nightclubs in Mumbai that stay open after 1:30 am,” she said. Red Light, Polyesters and Tetsuma are some of the other popular clubs in the area. For those who want their beer cheaper, Café Leopold (famous after the 26/11 terror attack), Gokul (after which you can have a roll at Bade Miyaan) and Alps Beer Bar are good options.
Colaba is the city’s largest art hub with galleries that deal in contemporary art. Three Bylind Mice, Gallery 7, The Strand Art Room are worth checking out apart from Jehangir Art Gallery and National Gallery of Modern Art. If you are tired of street shopping, visit boutiques for edgy designs. The Oak Tree sells exquisite jewellery and customised handbags. Bungalow Eight is another lifestyle and fashion store.