That's South Bombay for non Bombayiites…. I find South Bombay to be Bombay rather than Mumbai... That is the beauty of South Bombay. A truly cosmopolitan place that is still untouched by the obsession with Marathi engulfing the rest of Bombay (ooops….. Mumbai). It is everything that Bombay stood for once; the financial capital of India and melting pot of cultures with a truly secular ethos where the only thing that mattered was your business acumen. Regionalism has no place here. This was the original Bombay that the British inhabited and developed. They constructed their administrative infrastructure in Victorian Gothic style. It is well planned, well constructed, and built to endure. The town (as this part of the city is called) is easily the most aesthetic part of the city and can easily compete in the infrastructure and layout with any European city. Each building is a landmark in itself. Vast open spaces, greenery, well laid out wide roads, the road along the beach, everything gels together. This is quite a contrast to the chaotic, disorganized concrete jungle that the rest of Bombay is.
The southern most tip of Bombay is Navy Nagar, the defence area, and is out of bounds for civilians. South Bombay ends at around the Mumbai Central station. North of Mumbai Central station was the area where general Indian population lived. It originally extended northwards upto Mahim. Dadar was the epicenter of Indian activities. This part of Bombay was for wretched, less fortunate souls. It was poorly planned and not much infrastructure was set up. Bombay's growth proceeded linearly, along a single road that extended north- south. Beyond Mahim was the Mahim creek, which was bridged by the Mahim causeway later and Bandra and the other suburbs came into existence. Then the suburban railway was constructed in the 1950s…. and slowly Bombay became what it is now.. good or bad… take your pick.
Coming back to SoBo…..
When I came to Bombay 10 months back, the Marine Drive got me addicted to SoBo. That was my port of entry so to speak of. A long stretch of road fit for driving those fancy cars at speeds unheard off in Bombay. Nice place to hang out in the evenings.. or rather, any time of the day, with the cool sea breeze blowing almost all day. Evenings and early mornings see a rush of joggers here. Mumbai CST station is, needless to say, a heritage building, always crowded and it seems that all roads lead to this station. Rajabai tower, Bombay university, and BSNL building are all in close proximity to each other, along a tree lined avenue. When seen from a distance, these can be identified only in bits and pieces due to the thick foliage. These are located bang opposite the Azad maidan, that famous breeding ground of the country's leading cricketers. This vast expanse of land provides a welcome change from the concrete jungle and much needed breathing space.
Proceeding further away from the Churchgate station is the Flora fountain or the Hutatma Chowk. This is the fort area. To the right is the Kala Ghoda, the site for various cultural events, especially the Kala Ghoda festival. This entire road is lined by buildings in the the Victorian Gothic style. Straight ahead lies Colaba causeway, a delight for street shoppers and further ahead is the Gateway of India and the Taj and Oberoi hotels. This area is also pockmarked by iconic restaurants like Tendulakar's and Bade Miyan and also various pastry and sandwich shops.
No description of South Bombay is complete without referring to Nariman Point, the business district of Mumbai, or rather, one should say all of India. Lined by numerous highrises, all roads and railway lines lead to Nariman Point in the morning and away from it in the evenings. A hub of hectic business activity on weekdays, the region is overflowing with people.
Churchgate Station- Cut the crowds and its Europe