A road trip to Mumbai – HSR to Dharavi

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A road trip to the business capital of India was always on my wish list. Four of us, Junaid, Sajeer, Vivek and myself planned a one week road trip to Mumbai last December (2019). Now, you may ask, why did we specifically choose Dharavi as our destination.  The simple answer is that we had come across this place in a lot of movies and found the backstories really interesting. 

We started driving towards Mumbai on the 25th of December. We didn’t plan much  on where to stay, how much distance to cover each day  and all. The plan was to drive as usual, experiencing the attractions, local food and culture on the route and use oyo for accommodation. 

Day 1 – Dec 25 – HSR to Chikmagalur

We particularly took this route to stay in Chikmagalur for one day. It’s Bangalore folks’ favourite weekend destination and quite a relaxing stay as well. 

Day 2 – Dec 26 –  Chikmagalur to Goa

Having tea from a Dhaba in Chikmagalur

We started discussing the route forward while having breakfast from one local Dhaba. We found out about a nearby waterfall and decided to go there as our first item on the itinerary.Its called  Jog falls, a  beautiful waterfall located in Uttara Kannada district. It was a nice experience and the area was a fully developed tourist spot including hotels, parking, bathrooms and all. 

There were two routes from here to Goa, we took the one through Belagavi district which passed through a  forest area. We were expecting some sightseeing on this route but what we got was  another  surprise 🙂  Road work was in progress on Belagavi – Panaji road and it took us 3 hours to pass one 10 KM stretch. We reached Goa by night at 10 PM. 

Thanks for the live BGM, Vivek 🙂

Goa was in a festive mood, Christmas stars and color lights everywhere. We went to the madgaon railway station to drop our friend (His name is also Junaid 🙂 ) who came with us  till Goa to return by train. The railway station was decorated very well in Christmas theme and color lights, it had a joyful vibe everywhere

Goa was preparing to welcome the new year. We went to Calangute market square for exploring Goan street food and spent some time on the beach till 12 and stayed in some nearby apartment booked through oyo. 

Day 3 – Dec 27 – Goa to Mumbai 

Mumbai is still 12 hours drive away. There were two options: drive fast and reach mumbai today itself or drive as usual and stay wherever you reach. We took the second  option and it was worth experiencing the route. We could see a lot of green farm lands on the way. Had lunch from Kolhapur and  guess what’s special 🙂 Chicken dishes. It was heartening to see bullock carts on service roads carrying passengers. We have seen this in Karnataka villages but didn’t expect this on the sides of Mumbai express ways. We took some rides on service roads as well to get into nearby villages

We reached Pune area by evening and stayed in a  hotel located between Lonavle and Navi Mumbai. 

Day 4 – Dec 28 – Good morning Mumbai ! 

Started the day with proper Mumbai vada pav as breakfast from the nearby Dhaba 🙂

We had dressed up in executive manner (Shirt and pants) as someone told it’s mandatory to get into the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. I still don’t know whether it’s true or not. We washed our car also. The iconic symbol of Mumbai, the Taj mahal palace was the number one on  the itinerary today. It was exciting to enter this century old, well maintained top rated five star hotel.They have tightened security checks post 2008 terrorist attacks. The checks will take around 10 minutes depending on the size of the queue. You will feel like a very big heritage palace inside. The view of the Arabian sea and gateway of India from inside is fascinating. We can’t give you a full review as we didn’t opt to stay here. You can try that if interested , it’s starting from a nominal (:P) price of only 20K per night 🙂 

outside portrait of the Taj Mahal Palace
Inside Taj Mahal Palace

We also noticed one other thing, we were the only gang walking here and there and taking photos/selfies checking their christmas decorations and all 🙂 

Gateway of India is located right in front of the Taj Mumbai. It’s always a crowded tourist attraction. We spent a few hours there feeding flocks  of pigeons and taking videos after which we  headed for Dharavi. 

Gateway of India

Dharavi – one other side of the Mumbai 

Yea, Dharavi was set as our destination when we started from Bangalore. As you know it’s one of the largest slums in the world. Visiting this place was a revelatory experience, erasing all stigma and  stereotypes. We parked the car outside of the area and started walking through skywalkers.  The place was fully congested and what we could  hear was  non stop sounds of vehicle horns all the time. We may feel like everyone is a vendor there, small street vendors have occupied each corner of every street. Even kids are selling locally manufactured items like leather purses, pottery etc. We had some street food from here, very tasty 🙂 though the environment is dirty. 

There are thousands of eateries like this in Dharavi

There is something called “Slum tourism”, you will get a chance to visit small huts where people live, talk to them, have a coffee with them, take photos/videos. There are agents selling this as a package and foreigners are the main customers. See how they are selling even their misfortune to target customers 🙂 They emphasise the saying “There are no problems, only opportunities to grow” , they know no one cares about their life and want to make posts on social media. So take that as an opportunity to sell , what else? 

walking through Dharavi

We see a lot of hard working people over there, they are very friendly and ready to help with navigation/suggestions and all. There is one fact that we didn’t know before, Dharavi is home to a large number of small scale industries like garments, leather goods, plastic recycling, book binding are a few to list.  

Back to Bangalore

We went to Bandra beach from Dharavi. Took some photos and headed back to Bangalore. This one week road trip was full of fun and excitement. Starting from HSR layout, passing greenery of Chikmagallur, getting lost in off roads of Uttara kannada district, sea food in Goa, the irony of life uncovering between luxury of Taj Mumbai and the lives of Dharavi – it was all a lifetime experience to cherish. Cheers to co riders Junaid, Sajeer and Vivek until we meet again for the next trip!! 


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