Friday, February 8, 2013

Mumbai's Marine Drive - A Piece of the "Queen's Necklace"

Mumbai boasts of a gracefully curving promenade called Marine Drive, directly facing the western bay, a natural arm of the Arabian Sea. It's a gorgeous boulevard that spans 4.3 kilometers connecting the central business district at Nariman Point to Malabar Hill and Babulnath. The short drive was originally laid out some 70 years ago, a six-lane highway dotted with a rich boulevard of art deco buildings. The official name is far from poetic: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road while the Marathi people endearingly called it Sonapur. However, travel books have gotten used to calling it the "Queen's Necklace" in reference to how it looks at night when the promenade lights are all lit, and the dreamy breakwater turns into a wondrous piece of royal accouterment .. like a "cluster of diamonds at a pendant," wrote Nita Kulkarni in her blog, "Stock Pictures".

After a seemingly aimless day of unplanned wanderings, I finally reached this promenade all the way from the Gateway of India... and "on foot". I was tempted to rest my tired body the way a gentleman at the promenade had done: he laid there seemingly dead to the world. I walked along the concrete structures for an hour and by the time I got back to the same point, he was still there, fast asleep.

Mindless and dead to the world

I could sit there all day or I could wait for the setting sun from the western horizon, but after a while, I realized I wasn't sure if I could find my way back where I came from.

It had been a long walk and I didn't want to test my luck in Mumbai's dark alleyways. Neither did I want the chance to risk my sanity with a taxi driver (a last resort) if I eventually get lost. With neither a map nor my LP guidebook in my backpack, I finally decided to say goodbye to what could easily be my favorite spot in Mumbai.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on a leisurely walk back to my hotel. I found a Post Office and mailed some postcards back home. There were simple pleasures along the way: two glasses of sugarcane juice (freshly squeezed), grandiose fountain designs, more colonial buildings, black-and-yellow taxi cabs, double decker buses, a last glimpse of the Gateway of India, more acquaintances with anonymous Indian statues. I realized it was a great time to be alive and even greater to be discovering a slice of India that I've always heard about.

As darkness eventually fell into Colaba, I was left with a sense of peace; of a calming ennui that shall take me to a restful, dreamless sleep.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

The Queen's Necklace

The Queen's Necklace - This is how Mumbai's scenic Marine Drive is being referred to as night lights make it seem like a necklace studded with diamonds. This photo only courtesy of Nita Jatar Kulkarni. Please visit her site here:

Sugarcane juice near the university of Mumbai and the cricket field.

A post office in Colaba few blocks from my hotel.

Gateway of India up close

Statue of Lal Bahadur Shastri, India's second Prime Minister. Thanks to "Mom with a Dot" for the much needed identification. :)

More of Mumbai: On a Leisurely Trail Across Colonial History


Mom with a Dot said...

Wow! This made me look at Marine drive in new light - how come there were no people around? That's rare! Glad you had a peaceful afternoon and the statue of the person holding a book is Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second PM of India. He coined the slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kisan - in praise of soldiers and farmers.

eye in the sky said...

There are 2 comments which I accepted here, but Krishna's doesn't show for now (and this happened before, with the "missing" comment appearing much later.

@ Mom with a Dot:

It's so weird. A lot of people tell me I seem to have seen Mumbai at a time where there's no swarm of the population. I'd have expected the same. The place is gorgeous, there should be more people here. It must be the hour? When the sun's a bit harsh at 3PM or thereabouts? Thanks for the bit about Mr. Shastri. Much appreciated. I'll type that in. :

@ Krishna:

Thanks, mate. It's a beautiful place and everyone who goes there will surely get their beautiful scenery.:)

Mom with a Dot said...

Also, that sugarcane juice machine is one of the cleanest I've seen, no kidding :)

Twin said...

Looks like Manila Bay :)

eye in the sky said...

@ Twin:

Nah... not Manila Bay.

shooting star said...

been only once to mumbai and loved the vibe of the marine drive at night (i visited it at night!!)...

your images of the drive in daytime seem so ethereal....urban ethereal!!

eye in the sky said...

@ shooting star:

Thank you. It's my favorite place in Mumbai. :)

Mom with a Dot said...

Waiting for pics. from Hyderabad! Where is Hyd? Gimme Hyd :)))) BTW, also wanted to say that sugaecane juice machine is the newest / cleanest I've seen - ever!!

eye in the sky said...

@ Mom with a Dot:

Haha. You're funny. Agree, the sugarcane machine looked very new, thus clean and rust-free. :)