Eat, Shop, Repeat: Here's Everything You Can Do In Sion

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Home to a small urban forest in the heart of the city, a 17th century hilltop fort, the nearby Dharavi leather market that's a booming parallel industry of Mumbai and more; Sion is Mumbai's boundary town. In the 17th century, this little village was the boundary between Mumbai and the vast Salsette Island. Today, it's still forming a boundary in Mumbai, well, at least for the auto-rickshaws that aren't allowed to cross it to go to South Mumbai roads, a feature that leaves several non-Mumbaikars scratching their heads. 

Sion marked the end of the city during the Raj era; but if you're wondering how Sion got its name, it's thanks to the Jesuits who were given ownership of it by the Portuguese. The Jesuits built a chapel here and named it after Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Zion became Sion, and later, Shiv in Marathi. 

Explore this old neighbourhood of Mumbai and discover bits of the city that you may not know of. 

Where To Shop

Shop For A Wedding At Gandhi Market

What will you find in a municipal market? LOTS of stores full of designer sarees, fabrics for lehengas, laces, threads, unstitched suits and more. Don't let the façade of Gandhi Market in Sion fool you. Walk in and explore shop after shop full of bridal lehengas, designer salwar sets and sarees full of zari work that'll leave a bit of spark in your eyes. It's one of Mumbai's oldest wedding markets and worth taking a walk around, especially if you've got a wedding to shop for. 

Pro Tip: Do visit Neerja Collection, it's right at the mouth of the market with some of the best fabrics that are heavily embroidered and embellished. We spotted several in pastel colours, fit for the sister-of-the-bride.

The market remains shut on Mondays.

Get Some Earthenware From Kumbhar Wada

You may have heard of the prowess of Dharavi's potters. Now shop from them! Kumbhar Wada is a thriving market for all things earthen. Whether you're looking for big matkas to store water at home, earthen bottles that you can carry around and keep water cool in for long hours, or earthen utensils, lamps and more, you'll find something here.  Kumbhar Wada's potters come up with several items and sell them for much cheaper than big brands in malls, obviously. Besides, it doesn't hurt to get something local, right?

Know more about Kumbhar Wada here.

Grab A Laptop Bag At Excellent Bag Works

Sure, we could simply tell you to shop from Dharavi's Leather Market (which has a website too, btw), but there are some shops that are truly noteworthy. One of them is Excellent Bag Works, a must-visit if you're on the lookout for leather laptop bags. The shop has other items but is known for its laptop bags as they are sturdy, and come with ample pockets and quality zips and buckles that won't break easily. 

Don't forget to bargain here, as the shop owner might easily quote INR 6,000 but will bargain down to INR 2,500 if you stay put.

Get A Custom-Made Leather Jacket From High Design

Another prominent store in the Leather Market, High Design's collection includes backpacks and jackets. Going for a trip abroad, buy a leather jacket here! It's sure to be cut as per the latest trends and is made from quality leather that'll keep you warm. If you think the designs here are too rugged (as they can be!), then get the store to customise a jacket as per your liking. Their price range starts at INR 8,000.

And, if you're looking for backpacks, get one here too. Their price range starts at INR 2,000; and you can also get one customised as per the amount of pockets or compartments you need. 

Plan An Outfit At Bhagwan Collection

Located right next to Gandhi Market, Bhagwan Collection is a large fabric store. You'll find fabrics for any occasion, and in a price range for varying budgets. They have bandhani, leheriya, phulkari, digitally-printed fabrics and more. While the store also has unstitched suit materials on offer, we weren't too happy with the collection and felt it's best to stick to fabrics.

The price range starts at INR 150 per meter.

Where To Eat

Dig Into A Malwani-Style Thali At Modern Lunch Home

You obviously get quality seafood in Mumbai and Modern Lunch Home is an old establishment popular for its Malwani-style of cooking and a few Mangalorean dishes too. While you can opt for a Fish/Chicken thali with dosa, you can also try a Crab thali, or eat one of the many fish fries available here, on the side. There's also a Chicken/Mutton Ghee Roast, Chicken/Mutton Sukka, which you can wipe off with soft Neer Dosa. 

Meal for two: INR 700; a thali will cost you around INR 300.

Read more about it here.

Grab A Samosa And Some Chaat At Guru Kripa

Serving one of the best samosas in the city, Guru Kripa in Sion is a mithai and chaat shop dishing out Punjabi-style food. With a few rickety tables for dine-in, head here for a Dal Pakwan breakfast (available till 9:30am), and if that's too early, simply go in the evening for a plate of Samosa Chole, Chole Tikki or even Pani Puri or Moong Dahi Puri. Their Gulab Jamuns are worth cheating on eating healthy too. 

Meal for two: INR 200

Read more about it here.

Meander Around For Fish Koliwada At Sion Koliwada

Sion Koilwada a.k.a Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar is a popular spot for authentic Punjabi food in Mumbai. After all, it's the neighbourhood where Punjabi refugees have been living since the partition. Let Google Maps direct you to Hardeep Punjab and you'll find yourself on a tiny street full of restaurants, mithai shops and grocery stores full of the community's food. 

This is also the neighbourhood that plays caterer to most Punjabi weddings in the city, and once used to supply flour to affluent Punjabi families including ones who have produced Hrithik Roshan, Dharmendra, and Sanjay Dutt, among others. Several of them have also frequented the street to bow their heads at the largest Gurudwara in Mumbai. 

But as we're on the topic of food, so here's what you must eat and where.

Taste the iconic Fish and Prawn Koliwada where it was first made, at Hazara restaurant. You can also grab a drink here. 

Head to Mini Punjab across the street for Chicken in White/Red masala.

Grab a plate of Chole Bhature at Chawla's dhaba. Know more about it here.

Pack some Petha Barfi, Namak Pare, Gur Pare, and Mathri from Maya Sweets or Guru Nanak Sweets. 

Eat a plate of Paya at Sardar Paya House, which the neighbourhood lovingly calls Papu Paya. 

And finally, grab a glass of Kashmiri Soda (which the owner claims his father invented and supplies the masala for) at Indra Cold Drinks. 

 Meal for two: If you hop to all these spots, you will easily spend around INR 800 or less.

Get A KFC-style Burger On A Budget At Bombay Burgers

Those crispy, crunchy burgers and wings at KFC are a hit. But what if we told you, you can get them in a more masaledaar avatar for almost half the price? While Bombay Burgers has a few outlets around the city, there's one opposite Sion Station. The little stall is a takeaway-only space and has spicy, crunchy Chicken Fingers, and Chicken Burgers that have a crunchy chicken filet packed in. 

Try it, and we guarantee you won't be disappointed. 

Price: INR 100 for one order.

Eat Paneer Jalebi Or Chaat At Tewari Bros. Mithaiwala

The iconic Tewari Bros. has an outlet in Sion and it's worth paying a visit. After all, their Paneer Jalebi is fried hot and served to relish. You must also get a glass of thick Lassi and a plate of Raj Kachori here, that's made just like the big kachoris Rajasthan is popular for. While you obviously can't eat all the mithai they offer in one go, pack some. 

Tewari Bros. Mithaiwala makes the freshest Malai Peda, Motichoor Laddu and several Bengali sweets as well. If you're around here at lunchtime, you can sit down for a thali which is ghee-laden but is pure satvik food.  

Meal for two: INR 300

Read more about it here.

Things To Do

Trek Up Sion Fort

Hidden in plain sight, the Sion Fort is one of Mumbai's well-kept secrets. It's a hillock that's easy to climb and was built in the 17th Century by then Governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier. The British built it to mark the boundary between the British-owned and governed Bombay and the Portuguese-held Salsette Island. Climb up here for beautiful views of the city and get a view that's not the regular sea link or marine drive. There's also a park at the foothill that's worth taking a stroll in.

Pro Tip: Sion Fort and the park is open from morning till noon, and later 4pm onwards.

Read more about it here

Explore Mumbai's Forest At Maharashtra Nature Park

Once a dumping ground, this park is now a 37-acre man-made forest. And, it's a great place to have a picnic at, bird-watch and take a hike. It took 12 years to convert a garbage dump into a park, but the job has been done so well that it'll easily leave you in awe. The large ecosystem boasts of 14,000 trees, 300 varieties of plants and herbs, 100 varieties of migratory birds that visit the park, 78 types of butterflies, 22 varieties of reptiles and amphibia and over 30 species of spiders have been recorded by the enthusiasts in the park. The park tries to host regular guided trails and walks around. But you can explore it by yourself too. 

Entry fee: INR 20

Read more about it here.

Know Public Transport History At The BEST Transport Museum

If you're a Mumbai kid, chances are you've spent your childhood fighting for the front seat in the upper section of a BEST Double Decker. Perhaps, your life has also been easier thanks to the BEST's excellent bus service that's existed for eons. From trams to double-deckers, mini busses and even a fleet that's electrical, the BEST has it all and continues to offer its public transport facilities to Mumbai. Explore its history through miniature busses and learn about the old routes that busses once took as per the timings of Mumbai's mighty mills. 

Read more about it here.