Located on the very tip of the tiny peninsula that makes up Mumbai, Colaba is a diverse and dynamic area of the city, filled with bustling markets, colorful art galleries, and historic monuments. With no shortage of things to see and do, here we explore the very best that this exciting area has to offer.
Kala Ghoda is one of the area’s most fascinating neighborhoods and is known as the art district of South Mumbai, where art galleries, museums, educational centers and cinemas are clustered together. Translating as ‘the black horse’, Kala Ghoda is named after the black stone statue of King Edward VII mounted on a horse which is a focal point of the area. Kala Ghoda area is an abode for art lovers, and is one of the most artistic and culturally rich place in Colaba. Every year the Kala Ghoda Art Festival takes place for nine days, celebrating and encouraging artists and artisans and providing them with a grand platform. Kala Ghoda festival attracts a million visitors from across all over India and the world.
Colaba Causeway is a market extending from a scattered collection of stalls to a seemingly never ending boardwalk of irresistible things. Approaching the entrance to Colaba Causeway, you are greeted with galaxies of bags, exotic shawls, amusing household items, T-shirts sporting mottos and slogans, clothes and accessories. A shopaholic’s dream, the numerous cramped up stalls have many hidden treasures. To find your diamond amidst the rough, keep digging deeper – Colaba Causeway rewards the dedicated rummager. Bargaining is also a vital part of the process: never agree to the first three prices the seller offers you.
The Asiatic Library
After the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland was established in London in 1823, the Literary Society of Bombay united with them and became known as the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Today it is known as The Asiatic Society of Mumbai. The main focus of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai is to ‘promote useful knowledge’; to this end, the Asiatic Library holds classified, rare or intriguing items such as artifacts, coins, manuscripts and much more. Dante’s The Divine Comedy and the manuscript of Shahnama of Firdaus are a few of the collections that take shelter under the 16 white pillars of The Asiatic Library
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – so spoke Mahatma Gandhi, affectionately known as Bapu ji. Mani Bhavan is a museum and a library filled with the minute detailing of Mahatma Gandhi’s life and work, from library filled with the books he has written, biographies, a statue and a wall decorated with photographs of Mahatma Gandhi from his early years until his death. Mani Bhavan was formerly a house of Gandhi’s friend, where Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai. Mani Bhavan was the political headquarters of Gandhi, during the struggle for independence of India; it was from here that historic movements like Satyagraha, the Non-Coperation movement, Swadeshi and Khadi emerged.
Nothing beats the heat of Mumbai like going to watch some Bollywood drama in an art-deco inspired movie theater. According to the Limca Book of Records, Regal Cinema was India’s first air-conditioned theater, and has remained a sanctuary away from the heat and crowds ever since. Regal was one of the theaters built during the outburst of cinema in India,making Regal cinema not only an entertaining visit, but a historic one too. Lean back in the comfortable seats and enjoy the selection of Bollywood and international cinema on offer.
Back Bay is the water kingdom of Colaba, a beautiful area of sea and sand away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The bay encompasses the famous Chowpatty beach, one of the most popular beaches in the city. Take a stroll along the bay and observe the couples taking a romantic walk, college students strolling and cycling along the walkways, taking in the salty breeze that fills the air with freshness. For a peaceful getaway within the city itself, Back Bay is the place to come.
The Afghan Church
The Afghan church was built by the British in honor of those who died in the First Afghan War of 1838, though it also memorializes Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Army from Lahore, Bombay and Madras Army. Afghan Church is the most visited place during the time of Christmas, when it is not only crowded but beautifully decorated. The Gothic architectural style of the Afghan Church, along with its stunning stained glass windows, makes it one of the most eye-catching and beautiful buildings in Colaba.
The Rajabhai Clock Tower
The Rajabhai Clock Tower was designed by George Gilbert, the same architect who created the tower of Big Ben in London. The Rajabhai Clock Tower boasts a delightful intermingling of Venetian and Gothic architectural style with a grand clock that used to ring hourly. It is named after the mother of Premchand Roychand, who had a major hand in supporting the building of this clock tower financially. On visiting Rajabhai Clock Tower, visitors should also pay a visit to the University Library which is one of the most beautiful libraries of India, with colorful stained glass windows and hypnotizing staircases.
The Sassoon Docks
The Sassoon Docks is one of the oldest harbors in Mumbai open to the public. Located in the outskirts of Colaba, the Sassoon Docks has an enormous fish market and is considered the trading center of South Mumbai. Ships, cruise ships and fishing boats are aplenty, and visitors can watch the fishermen bringing in their catches, repairing nets and trading fish; observing the harbor lifestyle will be quite an experience for anyone spending a day among the water-people of South Mumbai.
Flora Fountain is a book lover’s fantasy and piece of heaven for any bibliophile. The moment Churchgate subway ends, the first scene is huge piles of books everywhere. The piles of books are so tall and spacious, that the sellers have created narrow pathways between them. The further you browse, look out for little open fortresses whose walls are made of books. Ranging from classics, thriller, erotic, encyclopedias, academic, self help, romance or even comics dating back decades, Flora Fountain has something for everyone.