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How Many Of These Mumbai Secrets Do You Actually Know About?

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While working at No Footprints, I’ve seen that a lot of what I love about Mumbai remains under the scanner for people, not only tourists, but even those who have been calling the city home for years. These include urban legends, customs, architecture, food and people. Here are five of my favourite ‘unknown’ aspects of Mumbai — I haven’t met a single person who’s experienced all of them.

The Unknown Museum

Tucked away in the administrative building of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus {earlier the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, then christened Victoria Terminus}, the in-house Railway Museum pays homage to the Great Indian Peninsular Railway and the architect FW Stevens.

What To See

Cutlery, bells, ticket windows, photos, advertising hoardings, miniature models, dining areas, architectural hacks and stained-glass paintings make sure that CST has a story for everyone.

Don’t Forget

The only drawback though, since it is guided by the administrative staff, it’s open only between 3pm and 5pm on weekdays. A great time slot for tourists and the unemployed alike.

#LBBTip: The highlight for me, though, is the front seat view of DN Road from the balcony of the station from where you can see the spectacular BMC building, Capitol Cinema and the entire cavalcade of life that passes by. This is the one spot in the city which captures the true essence of the fast-paced Mumbai life.

Where: Located inside the Chhatarpati Shivaji Terminus. Look for the side entrance a little ahead of the main entrance which is usually shut.

Price: INR 200 for one person

Timings: 3pm to 5pm on weekdays, shut on weekends

The Unknown Temple

When I’m sauntering on Worli Seaface, I sometimes head towards a lesser known cultural insignia of Mumbai – The Worli Koliwada. This 800-year-old Koli fishing village is home to one of Mumbai’s best-kept secrets, the Golfadevi Temple – the Goddess who speaks to its devotees.

Such is the veneration of the Devi, that fishermen often take her permission before going out to sea. If the permission is denied, they wait back. Problem conceiving? Unemployed? Marriage issues? Devi is privy to most problems faced by this fishing community, answering hundreds of devotees unfailingly everyday {except Wednesday morning – her day off}.

What To See

How does she answer these queries despite being an 800-year-old stone idol? The answer is Vermillion, the priest, two silver marbles and abundant faith.

The resident priest places two silver marbles on each of the two orange sticky vermilion patches on the goddess’s shoulders at the exact same time. Traditionally, if the right marble falls first, Golfadevi has answered in the affirmative. If the left falls first, it’s best to stay away from the waters.


For all those sceptics, I have been going there for the past 5 years with my hundred kilo frame and asking her if I’m ever going to lose weight. Appropriately and unfortunately, the marble on the left has been getting some workout.

Where: Golfa Devi Temple Rd, Koliwada, Worli

How To Get There: Turn left at Worli from the SeaLink. Take a left from the regional office of Mumbai’s coastguard and start walking up towards Worli Fort. The temple will be shortly before the fort.

The Unknown Story

My introduction to Konkan cuisine was at the age of six. Every Sunday, Vithabai, my nanny, would bring delectable homemade treats. Crispy golden on the outside, moist and gooey on the inside, my favourite had to be her Bombil, or Bombay Duck. Give me that over kandha bhajiya on a rainy day, and I’m a very happy man {unfortunately though, none of the fishermen are risking their lives to fulfil my guilty pleasures}.

Need To Know

So why is a fish called a duck? The British were headquartered in Kolkata, but would come to Bombay on business. At lunch or dinner, they loved eating this crispy delicacy. They decided to import the fish from Bombay via train mail. Mail in Hindi is called Daak. Since this was the Bombay mail, the locals would call it the Bombay Daak. For the greater convenience of the British tongue, Bombay Daak become Bombay Duck, and the rest as they say is history.

Where To Eat: Have the Bombay Duck at Gajalee, widely considered one of the best in the city

Where: Kadamgiri Complex, Hanuman Road,Vile Parle East

Price: INR 225 for Bombay Duck

Timings: 11.30am to 3.30pm, 7pm to 11.30pm

Number: 022 3015 1436

The Unknown Food

Bhendi Bazaar is a labyrinth of gastronomic delights. My favourite place in these by-lanes though, is not a savoury diner {this might surprise a few, who know my love for meat} but a little ice-cream joint called Taj.

Over a century old, Taj Ice cream has amassed fans with discerning tastes from within India’s borders and beyond, the reason – handmade Ice cream, made the exact same way for the past 125 years.

What To Eat

Every day, the kitchen is a flurry of activity with seasonal fresh fruits, milk and cream being churned tirelessly in between expletives. Mango is a house favourite, with Sitaphal {Custard Apple} and Chocolate chip coming in a close second. But, like me, if you fancy beyond the ordinary, try the Guava. You get a big scoop of ice-cream and the fourth generation owner’s toothless smile.

Need To Know

Anthony Bourdain is a fan as well.

Where: Khara Tank Rd, Kumbharwada

Price: INR 60 for a scoop

Timings: 8am to midnight

Number: 022 2346 1257

The Unknown Monument

Mazgoan or Matsyagram as it was called, is one of the seven islands that made up the Mumbai {then Bombay} Heptanesia. An area of ‘did you knows’, Mazgoan is home to one of Mumbai’s most beautiful mausoleums, Hasnabad Dargah – the city’s very own Taj Mahal.

What To See

Neighbouring mechanic shops and a few grimy industrial warehouses, Hasanabad was built in veneration of the 1st Aga Khani, Shah Hasan Ali Shah, who came to India from Iran in the early 1800s and died in the country in 1881. This architectural marvel has four corner minarets and a beautiful blue dome – a welcome sight for sore eyes.

Need To Know

Hasanabad apart, Mazgaon is rich in cultural eclecticism, echoing the ethos of Mumbai. Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, all exist harmoniously within its bosom, leaving deep cultural imprints on this forgotten island.

Where: Mazgaon, Anjeerwadi Road, Dr Mascarenhas Rd, Mustafa Bazar, Byculla