A beautified stretch of foreshore that hugs the Arabian Sea on the southern fringes of Mumbai, Marine Drive’s seaside promenade is a magnet for young, old and everyone in between. Officially Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, this popular coastal strip runs for 3 kilometres from the high-rises of Nariman Point to infamous Chowpatty Beach at the foot of Malabar Hill. Lined with crumbling Art Deco buildings and dotted with palm trees, it’s the perfect place to mingle with Mumbaikars.
To experience Marine Drive at its best, do as the locals do and head here in the early evening to stretch your legs and watch the sun go down. And as the streetlights come up, transforming the seafront into a glittering arc, you’ll see why the locals call it the ‘Queen’s Necklace’.
But don’t stop there. Continue north to check out the delights of Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai’s oldest seafront. Here, you’ll find plenty of old-style fun, especially on weekends, with traditional fair rides and colourful street entertainment that runs the gamut from snake-charmers and astrologers to contortionists and dancing monkeys. Hawkers, too, are out in force, selling balloons and other paraphernalia.
Feeling peckish? You’ve definitely come to the right place, as this is where locals head to indulge in Mumbai’s beloved street snacks, or chaat and golas. Part of the chaat family, Chowpatty bhel puri is a special favourite: puffed rice tossed together with onions, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, spices and chutneys, all scooped up with a disc of flat puri bread.
If you’d prefer to steer clear of street stalls, safer, more hygienic options lie across the road; for instance, Cream Centre (25 Fulchand Niwas) is a vegetarian snack house that’s been dishing up delicious chaat and its signature channa bhatura (chickpea curry) for close to five decades. The queues outside are testament to its popularity.
Being close to the centre of Mumbai, Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach are easy to reach by public transport. If you can brave the crowds, the liveliest time to visit is at the climax of Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival that takes place in September and pays homage to the elephant-headed god Ganpati.