Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mumbai Heritage Walks - Fort

I've got a book called Heritage Walks in Mumbai and after last week's adventure going downtown on the train, Lex and I decided we'd try out one of the walks in central Mumbai.  We set off this morning to VidyaVihar station - but there was an enormous queue to get to the ticket office, so we jumped in another tuk-tuk and went to Kurla instead (which was actually nearer).  The train was horribly crowded - people pushing and shoving to get on and off - and people hanging off out of the doorways in a very dangerous way.  The crowds thinned out at the next stop Dadar.

The train went to CST - the new name for Victoria Terminus - a beautiful building from the time of the Raj where it was possible to get a train to anywhere in India from here.  

Our walk took us to Crawford Market, a fruit, veg, nuts and provisions market.  We then followed the route past the police headquarters and into an area of Bombay where I have been shopping before.

This area of Bombay was laid out by the British again as a planned Victorian street with Gothic, Victorian and Renaissance colonial designs.  We went into the Bombay Shop and then left the walking route entirely as I remembered going to a restaurant in the vicinity called Britannia, and we thought we find it for lunch.

We asked and asked and eventually we found it.  It wasn't far away and was in an area called Ballad Estate - an area where the buildings belong to the Indian Navy and Mumbai Port Trust.   Ballad Estate was the first planned area in the city and the aim was to move business out from the Fort locality.  Built between 1908-14 as a premium business district, today it still has that same feel to it.  There are film studios there too (we saw a film being made) and also little cafes such as Britannia and Company - with photos of the Royal Family on the walls (the owner thinks the country has gone to the dogs since the Brits pulled out - he boasts a letter from the queen - actually from her secretary).

So - I'm confident - I can get downtown and do the walks.  I'm gradually putting the jigsaw puzzle of Bombay into perspective.  I can see the links between the places and get around.  And I can push as hard as anyone to get onto the trains!

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