At the southernmost tip of Mumbai, Colaba is a charming old neighborhood filled with colonial-era buildings, busy cafés, vibrant markets, and hotels for all budgets. It's one of the best parts of town to go for a stroll, and the craft stalls that line the main road ensure that most travelers won't leave empty-handed.
Before a massive land reclamation project that unified the former islands of Bombay, Colaba was an island unto itself. It was held under Portuguese rule from 1534 through 1762 when the island was handed over to the British, who built many of the stately old buildings. Quite a few of the historic structures remain, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (c. 1903) and the clubhouse of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, built in 1881.
Colaba can be enjoyed as part of a special walking tour of this charming neighborhood, or as part of a larger exploration of Mumbai.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and carry water, particularly if you’re strolling around during the heat of midday.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for plenty of walking.
- Remember to bargain hard when shopping at roadside stalls, but note that regular shops usually have fixed prices.
How to Get There
Colaba is located in South Mumbai, close to the southernmost tip. It’s about an hour’s drive from the airport or a 10-minute drive from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The area is walkable, and if you plan to explore the market, it’s a good idea to ask your taxi or auto-rickshaw driver to drop you off near the Gateway of India, so you can walk the rest of the way.
When to Get There
Colaba is busy throughout the year, though outdoor attractions in Mumbai are better avoided during the hot months of April to June and during the monsoon season of July and August. The market is open well into the evening every day, and travelers who come to shop first thing in the morning can often get "lucky first customer" deals.
Mumbai is well-known for its Parsi cafés, Persian-style eateries run by Zoroastrian people from Iran. These cafés were in their heyday in the 1950s, particularly in Mumbai and Hyderabad, but those that survive today are still popular with foodies and anyone with a sense of nostalgia. One of the most famous is Leopold Cafe and Bar (on Colaba Causeway), which dates back to 1871.