Our popular MY CITY feature is back for 2014 and we thought we'd mix things up this time around by chatting to the beautiful Zeenat Wilkinson, who now calls New Zealand home, about her ten favourite things to do in her birthplace, Mumbai.
Zeenat's first foray into the fashion world was at London Fashion Week, followed by a stint at GRAZIA India. With nearly a decade spent in the fashion industry, we can assure you her Mumbai guide covers all of the shopping hot spots and plenty more.....
I was born in Mumbai but I moved to Auckland to be with my now husband, he is a kiwi. (I have always adored New Zealand ever since my first visit to the country twelve years ago!). Bombay’s energy and cultural mélange is infectious! There is no other place like it… I think I’ve been in a love affair with the city ever since I was born! It’s the place that my imagination has returned to more often then elsewhere.
Image by Karen Ishiguro
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a landmark of its own and a symbol of white glove elegance, Sea Lounge within the hotel is my favourite afternoon tea destination. I love the elegant French windows, pale blue walls, chandeliers, floral arrangements and of course its location - facing the Arabian sea and Gateway of India! I love convening by the window and watching the city go by.
Translated as ‘thieves market’ but it functions as a Flea Market, this market is NOT for the faint-hearted! Nonetheless you are bound to find amazing antiques (watch-out for replicas) and one-of-kind junk from colonial India. In the past I have bought notes, letters, vintage postcards, and advertising posters from the bygone era - there is something really nostalgic and intriguing about them… I have also bought a gorgeous mirror that looks like something out of Galerie des Glaces in the Palace at Versailles! You just never know what you find here; be prepared for crowds, cattle, dust, dirt and a good bargain!
A 30-minute ferry ride from Gateway of India, Elephanta Island is full of ancient caves of unknown date and attribution, a quick route to adventure! The carving and structure are stunning, the people on the island are friendly and it’s always easy to find an English-speaking tour guide to explain the philosophies and history of the caves. The sacred beauties of these caves are beyond words and they resemble a certain paradox of life and energy.
I love romanticising about the bygone era and Pali Bhavan encapsulates this so well! The carved temple pillars, vintage Indian photographs, blue-green Madras checked tiles sourced from markets around India are so exquisitely put together. I love their kebabs cooked in traditional Indian methods and spices. It's a great place to savour Indian cuisine.
The beautiful white on white décor and nestled on a rooftop bar with breathtaking viewing of the Indian Ocean - Dome is a gorgeous bar! Located in the InterContinental Hotel, Dome is perfect for a romantic date-night or catching up with friends.
Bungalow 8 is located in a well-preserved historic three-storey building in the Colaba area with super high ceiling, large wooden doors, wooden cross beams with gorgeous rustic and eclectic décor, the store itself is a source of inspiration. It stocks colonial antique furniture, maharaja prints, home décor items, beautiful south Indian linen, gorgeous hand-crafted jewelry and vintage sunglasses & purses.
A great way to spend the afternoon, I love looking at the exhibits at galleries around Colaba, Kala Ghoda and Fort area, especially when Tasveer hits town. Tasveer is a national photography collective, which has been bringing in international names like Norman Parkinson and Martine Franck while also spotlighting the country’s emerging and established talent from the godfather of Indian photojournalism Raghu Rai to Vogue fashion photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta. Tasveer normally hosts its show in Mumbai at the Institute of Contemporary Indian Art in Kala Ghoda.
Ensemble stocks the most beautiful accessories and clothing by established and upcoming Indian designers, labels such as Tarun Tahiliani, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Anamika Khanna, Pero, Shivan and Narresh and more. The textile and craftsmanship is exquisite and their styles are very international.
Bombay is filled with countless architectural influences. Art deco, modern, Victoria-era structures - the Neo-Gothic, Indo-Saracenic (combination of the Islamic and the Hindu architectural styles) and Venetian Gothic hodgepodge - making Bombay a beautiful flamboyant city. I love walking through Colaba’s sleepy bi-lanes, Kala Ghoda’s artsy bends, Fountain and Fort’s Gothic-Victorian architectural jewels and the promenade by the sea - Marine Drive, which is surrounded by Art Deco architecture. All those geometric shapes, arches and onion domes make for a pleasant walk through the city’s past - there is always something new to discover and appreciate. Fact: Bombay City used to be an archipelago of seven islands!
A paranomic view of the city’s forever changing skyline from 34th floor of Four Season’s hotel bar - Aer is breathtaking! The champagne and incredible cocktails make it even more exciting, and of course the music - modern Indian lounge, the atmosphere is relaxed and yet luxurious.
If you haven't already, we highly recommend that you add Mumbai to your travel list!