This Weekend Take a Literary Tour of Mumbai

This Weekend Take a Literary Tour of Mumbai

The subject of a number of popular literary works, Mumbai is Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City and the location where Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram plays out. Here, winding suburban streets exist side by side with opulent bungalows which sit perched over never-ending slums. Mumbai is a quaint medley of stunning wealth and debilitating poverty. The spirit of the city, its hustle, and the cumulative weight of dreams are what hold Mumbai together.

If you love reading about Mumbai and walking down the same roads that your beloved characters traversed, a literary tour of Mumbai is just what you need.

Leopold Café 

The central locale of Shantaram, Leopold Café has been described as a mystical site where the criminals of Mumbai congregate and make shady deals. Notwithstanding the alleged deals being made, Leopold Café does not disappoint – it is dark, barely lit, always bustling, and randomly put together. Shantaram’s author Roberts is known to frequent the café, too.  Stop by for a brew or what is perhaps the most delicious lassi in Mumbai.

Gateway of India 

Built in 1911 at Apollo Bunder, the Gateway of India is massive 26m basalt arch that stands as a commemorative monument by the sea. Princeton University historian Gyan Prakash describes the Gateway of India is great detail in his book ‘Mumbai Fables.’

Kipling Bungalow in JJ Institute of Applied Art 

South Mumbai is home to the JJ Institute, and ensconced within the institute is the Kipling Bungalow, the home of the famous writer Rudyard Kipling. Explore this historic bungalow and then head out on one of the guided tours offered here to visit the places Kipling loved in and around the city.

Asiatic Society of Mumbai 

Other than the sites specifically named in books, there are sites in Mumbai that are a literature lover’s dream and as such, should be a part of a literary tour of Mumbai. One such site is the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, the magnificent Town Hall located in Fort at South Mumbai. Home to one of the only two original versions of Dante’s Divine Comedy, the library of the ASM also boasts over 15,000 rare tomes, priceless artefacts, ancient manuscripts, and over 100,000 other books.

Smoker’s Corner 

Founded in the 1950s, the Smoker’s Corner at Fort is a second-hand book shop named after a small shop selling cigarettes around the corner. Along with getting access to hundreds of books, you might also get a chance to hobnob with celebrities in search of specific books to add to their collection.

From the Rajabai Clock Tower to Fountain and Regal Circle, there are a number of Mumbai locales that are mentioned in popular books such as the Ministry of Hurt Sentiments by Altaf Tyrewala, Chow Chow Amelia Falkland, Love and Longing in Bombay, Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom, and Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh. Sign up for one of the many guided walks and tours, or simply whip up a list of your favourites sites to see (like this one), and go, explore Mumbai.

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