The BEST window to Mumbai

Published: Dec 02, 2012, 11:00 IST | Moeena Halim |

Packed like sardines in a can, your BEST bus journeys are probably spent complaining about the city's never-ending traffic. If you're lucky enough to get a seat, you might grab the time to read the book you always carry in your jhola. Or even better, catch a few winks. But a ride on the city's latest double-decker, no: 124, made Moeena Halim realise, if you snooze you lose

This double decker bus route is Mumbai’s “only long-distance bus route,” says Manoj Warade, BEST PRO. It plies from Worli depot to Colaba bus station. “The other double deckers are meant to transport commuters between railway stations,” he adds. As the bus winds its way through South Mumbai, you’ll spot a number of buildings you’ll recognise — the Doordarshan Kendra and the Nehru Science Centre. But what’s most exciting is that this double decker dares to go through roads even cars shy away from — Kalbadevi.

Malwanacha Kinara at Worli:
If the name of the restaurant is anything to go by, you’d walk in here to feast on some Malwan seafood. While your bus zips by, don’t miss the fisherman atop the restaurant.

Raudat Tahera at Bhendi Bazaar: 
This Bohri mausoleum, known as the Raudat Tahera, is under wraps (quite literally). The shrine was built in honour of the highly revered late Syedna Taher Saifuddin, who led the Dawoodi Bohra community through turbulent times. It is currently undergoing renovation, which explains the sheet. This project is one among the redevelopment projects that Bhendi Bazaar will see over the next five years. “The structure is a monolith marble cube with a dome. The entire Quran is inscribed within its wall in gold,” reveals Lubaina Bandukwala, who is an active member of the Bohri community. Entry to the shrine is by special permission only.

Hathi building at Kalbadevi:
This residential building, also known as Bhang Wadi after the opium distributors that flocked the area, has a large statue of a blue elephant in the middle of the building façade. Don’t miss the elephant’s ornately decorated cloth piece (with the words ‘wisdom over riches’ carved on it) and the turbaned mahout. 

Pics/ Moeena Halim

Swadeshi market at Kalbadevi:
Built in the Venetian Renaissance style, this market complex houses several shops. The bust atop the entrance gate is of a merchant prince. “That could be Mulji Jetha, a cloth trader,” feels Kaiwan Mehta, author of Alice in Bhuleshwar.

The Martyrs’ statue at Hutatma Chowk:
Flora Fountain was christened Hutatma Chowk in 1960. It was renamed in memory of the members of Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, who lost their lives when police fired upon their peaceful demonstration. The statue depicts a martyr with a flame. Apart from the statue, this square at Fort houses a fountain, and a large map of Maharashtra made in grass.

Pic/Sameer Markande

Dwarkadeshi Temple at Kalbadevi:
Like most other Vaishnav temples, this beautiful pink, red and yellow structure houses several statues of turbaned sages. “Built in a haveli style,” Mehta says, “this temple is often referred to as the monkey temple because it also has several statues of monkeys.” 

The statue at the BMC building:
The statue of Sir Phirozeshah Mehta stands tall in front of the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) headquarters at Fort. Mehta, an activist and lawyer, was a prominent member of the municipal corporation. As a member of the Indian National Congress, his demand during the British Raj was for self-rule.

 Pic/Sameer Markande

BEST conductor at Colaba:
Allow this adorable BEST guy to hark the end of your journey! This isn’t the official mascot, but we think it should be. You’ll find this guy at the BEST bus terminus at Colaba.

Here are some more bus routes that show you snippets of Mumbai we tend to ignore

62 (Mumbai Central to Kurla Station), 63 (from JM Mehta Road to Chunabhatti)
Khada Parsi:
Any of these, which you can catch from Byculla station, will give you a glimpse of the statue of the Khada Parsi. The oft-neglected statue of Shet Cursetjee Manockjee was built 150 years ago.

Khatau Mills: While most Mumbai mills have turned into malls, Khatau Mills (or some semblance of it) still remains. Seth Khatau Makanji built the factory, which covered textiles, chemicals and footwear, in 1874.

3, 11 ltd (from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Navy Nagar)
Sit wide-eyed on this bus ride and you’re better off counting new structures than the heritage ones. Apart from the obvious BMC building, Azad Maidan and Hutatma Chowk, don’t miss the gates of the Sassoon Docks. The Sassoon Docks, built in 1875, are one of the oldest in the city. The structure houses a huge fish market and is one of the few docks in the city that is open to the public. (If you’re travelling from Churchgate station, you’ll spot the docks from bus numbers 103, 123 or 106).

Pics/Sameer Markande

79 (from Mahim to Gorai Depot)
Gilbert Hill:
This monolith, now surrounded by ugly slums, is a 60 million year-old natural structure. A Hindu temple sits atop the hill, which you can spot from the road as you cross the traffic-ridden Juhu circle signal.

Golden Pagoda: The golden pagoda vipassana centre can be spotted from miles away. The Gorai landmark, a meditation centre built to honour Buddha in traditional Burmese style, was inaugurated in 2009. file photo 

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