Good Morning Mumbai - the Banyan Tours way - Experience the city the way the locals do
The best time to explore Mumbai is early morning when the roads are peaceful and quiet. Meet your guide and transfer to the colourful, noisy and bustling Dadar flower market where the action gets started at 4am! Mumbai's largest wholesale flower market has more than 700 stalls overflowing with blooms and the whole place comes alive as the overnight deliveries are unloaded. The busy market hours are from 5am to 11:30am when the buyers visit this sprawling undercover bazaar; a delight for any photographer. The flowers are supplied to local street vendors who use them to make religious garlands, as well as event managers and wedding decorators.
From here, visit Dhobi Ghat to see the city’s famous open-air laundry in action. It is an unforgettable glimpse into the working life of Mumbai. Dirty laundry from all over the city is brought here and painstakingly hand washed by the dhobis (washermen) in the seemingly endless rows of concrete troughs. Thousands of dhobis spend hours each day standing up to their knees in water filled with chemicals, manually scrubbing and beating the dirt out of each item of laundry. The Ghat is owned by the municipal council, which charges the washermen rent and maintenance costs for the troughs. There are hundreds of men living at the Dhobi Ghat, where generations of families have been doing the washing work for decades; most are migrants from other parts of India.
Dhobi Ghat even appears in the Guinness Book of Records: in March 2011, it achieved the world record for the largest number of people (496) simultaneously hand washing clothes at a single location. Your guide will explain the impact that the introduction of modern machinery is having; eliminating the need for so much manual work might sound positive, but it is affecting the livelihood of the washermen.
Next on the agenda is a wonderful winding drive through the British Heritage District, another excellent photo opportunity, before arriving at Sassoon Docks. See the trawlers come in with the day's fishing catch and the city's fisherfolk at their chaotic best! Enjoy a walk through the buzzing markets, taking in the local culture and a chance to experience the daily life and rituals of these friendly locals.
Before heading back to the hotel, make a stop at an early 20th century building which was once a Japanese bank. These days, however, it houses the diesel-fired ovens of Yazdani, a Parsi bakery that produces delicious handmade treats. Enjoy a chai and a bun - the owner is a character and loves a chat!
TOP TIP – Have dinner at Trishna – an outstanding and intimate seafood restaurant. The crab with butter, black pepper and garlic and Hyderabadi fish tikka are house specialities and warrant the hype!