Mumbai – quintessential Apollo Bandar

The first landmark most tourists head for when they come to Mumbai is the Gateway of India in downtown Apollo Bandar. My map here.

The Indo-Saracenic style gate was built to commemorate the first ever royal visit to India in 1911.

Unfortunately it wasn’t completed until 1924 so when King George and Queen Mary arrived they were greeted by a cardboard replacement.

Apollo Bandar was formerly known as Wellington Pier.

And now it’s where you catch the boat to go to Elefanta Island (see later post).

Video of the harbour here.

Immediately opposite is the most famous hotel in India…

Taj Mahal Palace (A+), Apollo Bandar, Colaba, taj.tajhotels.com

Opened in 1903 the Taj Mahal Hotel was the brainchild of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, known as the ‘Father of Indian Industry’ as he also founded the Tata Group, India’s biggest conglomerate.

At the time it was the only hotel in the country to have electricity.

Even today its THE hotel to stay in, although I’d feel a bit ripped off if I ended up in the annex.

My advice is to stay at the Windsor instead (see my Churchgate post) and pay a hundred times less.

I met my dear friend Nicky in the Sea Lounge at the Taj for their famous high tea.

This opulent all-you-can-eat buffet of sweet and savoury treats is a must-do in my opinion. Pani Puri vid here.

Altogether the buffet and the tea cost us 2,866Rs each including tax (in 2018) which is about £20. By Western standards it’s very good value but obviously it’s pretty expensive by Indian standards.

The tea menu is a hefty tome with several pages. The obvious choice is the Darjeeling, often described as ‘the champagne of teas’.

We tried two different kinds, first the Castleton Second Flush Rare Muscatel, generally considered to be Darjeeling’s best tea (deep gold colouring with an aftertaste of musk).

Then the Makaibari Golden Tips (notes of citrus and a woody aroma). Both were wonderful (A).

An essential experience, do do it.

See the next post for more places to eat in Apollo Bandar.

For a postprandial stroll, walk past the Taj along the waterfront, cut inland and walk along B K Boman Behram Marg.

There are lots of lovely late colonial era buildings along this leafy street.

If you keep walking you will come to Sasoon Dock but more of that in a later post…

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