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Published: September 4th 2018
I was dreading the 6 hours we had as a stop over between Goa and Aurangabad in Mumbai. Partly because there’s not much you can do with heavy backpacks and partly because we had been chatting to a pleasant American on the bus to the station in Goa who was saying how crowded, busy and overwhelming it was.
Our train from Goa was delayed by over an hour so we didn’t arrive into Mumbai until 1120 (as oppose to 10am). Our next train was at 1635 from the same station - Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (originally Victoria Terminus), itself a world heritage sight. There are 18 platforms here and as we struggled against the crowds to get out we managed to find the booking hall - part of the original building. It is stunning, with granite columns, ornate carvings of animals and huge vaulted ceilings. More like a palace than a station.
I managed to find a helpful attendant who explained that there was a baggage area and where to find it. After having to go get a security sticker to prove the bags had been scanned leaving them in the cloakroom was actually quite straightforward. So far so good....
Leaving the station and trying to work out where to go no one bothered us. No taxis, no guides, no tuk tuk drivers. It was great! We walked down towards Horniman circle as that’s where most food things seemed to be. En route we went past the Flora Fountain - typically covered up for renovation at present. We ate at a lovely but rather expensive kebab restaurant before looking around St Thomas’s cathedral by the circle. This is also undergoing renovations but you could still see most of it. We found the commemorative plaques, mostly for British soldiers who had died whilst in India, particularly interesting.
We then headed over to the first Starbucks we have seen in India. Stephen won’t let me enter them at home (due to their lack of UK tax payments) but being tired and in need of decent coffee and WiFi he relented. It was bliss - the toilets were clean, the seats comfy and the tea like I’m used to tea being like! It also meant we could check our train seat allocations.
After managing to prise me off my WiFi we headed over to the station again. This time we
entered a tour of the station (this only runs 2-5pm midweek). It was surprisingly interesting and we both really enjoyed it. The architecture is stunning and all the carved animals and their symbolism fascinating. It was built by a British architect who’s reasonable for many of the buildings in Mumbai and he did a great job at combining European, Hindu and Mughal styles.
Following the tour we hot footed it back to our bags and managed to catch our train in time. By sheer luck we had a cabin to ourselves and even managed to get some rice for dinner (there was no on train food cart so we weren’t sure we’d get anything).
Overall I think we were surprised by how much we enjoyed Mumbai. We have another 3 days there after Aurangabad so let’s hope we continue to.
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