As early mornings get cooler, cycling at dawn becomes an extremely enjoyable experience, regardless of distance.
A group of us from Powai Pedals decided to cycle to National Centre For The Performing Arts (NCPA) at Nariman Point at, what used to at one time, be the southern tip of the Mumbai Peninsula. That is , till various other localities like Cuffe Parade etc happened.
Started at 5.30 am from Powai, and proceeded along the Eastern Express Highway(EEH) to Chaatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) . CST was earlier known as Victoria Terminus in honor of Queen Victoria, and the Victorian Gothic Revival (Indo Saracenic Revival) architecture of the station is a reminder of that. CST today is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We proceeded via Town hall/Asiatic Library to the Gateway of India. Earlier an ordinary fishermans jetty, it was developed into a landing place for British Royalty and Viceroys and Governers during the British Rule. Built and completed in 1924, in the Apollo Bunder sea front , it is a popular tourist area for Humans and pigeons alike.
South Mumbai has some very traditional iconic Irani Cafe/ eateries and the breakfast of Brun maska and Apple Pie was greatly relished after an almost 35 kms cycle ride .
We proceeded to Nariman Point and Marine Drive, and were amazed at the hordes of folks walking there early on a Sunday morning.
Nariman Point , one of the few places in Mumbai NOT named after Historical Indian Emperor/Kings and/or British Monarchs, was actually named after a the Bombay Municipal Corporator Mr Khursheed Framji Nariman, who intiated and followed up the idea of reclaiming land from the Arabian Sea near Marine Drive , and creating a Business District . In 2006, this was the 7th most expensive office space in the world. By 2012, Bandra Kurla Complex too over, and Nariman point slid to 25th place.
Cycling along the Bay past Marine Drive , Chowpatty, up the Malabar Hill, and down to Pedder Road , we cycled on past the SiddhiVinayak Mandir at Prabhadevi , and then crossed over at Dadar to the Eastern Express Highway , to proceed back to Powai.
A total distance of 78 kms.
The Gateway of India, which is also the location of the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel , which was the target of the 2008 horrendous terror attack, has a big police presence. This was very early morning hours, with not much vehicular traffic, but reasonable human and pigeon traffic.
I have often wondered how the pigeons learn about the best places in Mumbai where they can get free meals. This is somewhere in Front and a bit to the side of the Gateway; thousands of feathered friends enjoying an early breakfast guarded by Mumbai Police barricades, as it were.
A view of the Gateway Of India. clicked from somewhere in front and across the road from the Taj Mahal Hotel. The area to the right of the photo , is open sea.
Far away in the background are some government buildings and commercial, and naval set ups, from a time when Ballard estate was the primary business district of Mumbai, before Nariman Point.
One of the pleasures of long distance cycling, is finding such menu boards, in Irani cafes, catering to early morning folks like us. And I did not have Golden Sponge Cake, Bread Pudding, Fiery Ginger Biscuit or Mava Cake .
Here was extremely fresh bread, baked just that morning. I would have bought and lugged it home, if it wasn't for the load in my backback, as I cycled back around 38 kms, on my gearless bike .
Yes. I had this apple pie , along with Brun Maska , and milky tea.
Great taste , great energy, and great fun.
On the parapet at the southern edge of Marine Drive , near Nariman Point. You can see the other members of our team. This parapet, is always hugely crowded during evenings , as people enjoy the breeze and the sunset. You can see high rises of Central Mumbai in the background, and the Chowpatty beach in their foreground; this beach is the venue of the biggest Ganpati Visarjan event every year.
Our old faithful bikes, enjoying the breeze, and taking a breather while we take photographs. the one in the centre is my bike.
Our team member Disha, who initiated the idea of this ride. Enjoying a well deserved break and the breeze. We would be riding back via the western seaface and central Mumbai later. Again a distance of approximately 40 kms.
That's me. With the Trident Hotel building in the background. Along with the Taj Mahal Hotel, this was also targetted in the 2008 terror attacks . Marine drive is blessed with a broad sidewalk dedicated to pedestrians , something unusual in a vehicle obsessed, car crazy Mumbai.
Another view of the Marine Drive, with our group members, possibly examining the photos they clicked on their phones.
A parapet level view of the other end of the bay, which is Malabar Hill . Just below the parapet, on the side away from me, they have installed tetrapods to break the waves, as well as a safety for those who might slip down . But people of Mumbai continue to treat them, albeit illegally, as isolated sitting places , watched by the crashing waves, that surround them at high tide. Mumbai Police have been known to come and rescue such people.
The western end of the Bay, across from Marine Drive, Nariman Point etc. This is the Malabar Hill area, with abodes of the rich and famous, like captains of industry, old families, and the Governer of Mumbai, who lives at Raj Bhavan , the huge wooded area at the edge of the promontory at Malabar Hill.