Streetlife

The world’s most iconic streets are more than just famous landmarks. Every issue we delve a little deeper into one of the globe’s most well-trodden by-ways.

This month:

Colaba Causeway – Mumbai,

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Colaba Causeway – Mumbai

By Natalie Hunt

 An enchanting area of a vibrant city where the slums blend into consumer paradise, and bargaining tourists mingle alongside browsing locals.  Colaba Causeway is sandwiched in-between major Mumbai landmarks such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Gateway of India.  It’s a lively place but don’t be surprised to see a cow lying down in the middle of it all taking a well earned nap.  It’s also not a bad place to be if you want to get picked up as an extra in a Bollywood film.

Shopping

Colaba typifies the intoxifying madness of shopping in India.  As soon as you step onto the street your senses will be bombarded from every angle with colour, scent and glittering silver.  The stalls that line the pavement sell everything from hippy clothes to counterfeit watches to animal shaped purses.  Just be prepared to jostle against a constant flow of human traffic when seeking out bargains.
 
The stalls face onto their slightly more permanent counterparts in the form of boutiques selling a menagerie of items similar to that on the stalls as well as the odd antique.  Anyone brave enough to dodge through the speeding wall of traffic to the other side of the street will find the western influence and air-conditioned delight of high street favourites such as  United Colours of Benetton and Nike.
 
Eating

Indigo is the place to be when it comes to eating in Colaba, it is an Italian based restaurant with a Southern Indian Keralan twist.  One of its most renowned dishes is Kochi oysters with saffron ravioli.
 
Another popular eatery is Churchill, it’s a small tucked away diner but what it lacks in size it makes up for in menu variety.  Its meat dishes with assorted gravies and vegetable based accompaniments are a must for hungry tourists who have had their fill of spicy food.
 
History

The causeway was built at the tail-end of the 18th Century.  An increase in boat traffic to the area meant that capsizing was a serious problem where several people died.  The Causeway as it is known to the locals, was constructed by the British East India Company its construction was completed in 1838.

In more recent history Colaba witnessed the Mumbai bombings in 2006, with the worst of the blasts taking place at the neighbouring Taj Mahal hotel.  Shots were also fired in Leopold’s Cafe on the Causeway.
 
Read all about it

For many travellers, Colaba Causeway has now become synonymous with a book called Shantaram.  Soon to be made into a film starring Johnny Depp, Shantaram is a tale of love, fate, friendship and the criminal underworld.  Influenced by real events, with a few embellishments thrown in for good measure, author Gregory David Roberts recounts his time spent living in a slum in Mumbai having escaped from prison in Australia and fled to India. The book refers to real places in Mumbai and Leopold’s Cafe on Colaba Causeway is a favoured haunt of its characters.  The cafe is still standing today and regularly holds book signings with Roberts.

Best boutique stay
Just around the corner from Colaba Causeway, The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel is the ultimate in unabashed luxury.  The man-made waterfall in the hotel’s entrance is a good guide to the kind of splendour you can expect from the suites.  Treating yourself to one of the 556 rooms for the night will set you back anything from a rather reasonable £200.
 
Best budget stay
Being a  backpacking hotspot there is plenty of budget accommodation in and around the causeway.  Hostels in the surrounding area include the Salvation Army and India Guest House where you can pay just over a pound a night.  Another option for those who want to keep costs low but don’t want to slum it is Bently’s Hotel, on the strip itself, with simple clean rooms and nice facilities at a very reasonable £15 a night.

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