Bandra is called as the ‘Queen of Suburbs’ by Mumbaikars and it doesn’t fail to live upto it’s title either.
Though, the Maximum City has no dearth of glitz, Bandra somehow outshines other suburbs in the glam quotient. An Indian counterpart of the Beverly Hills, this coastal stretch in West Mumbai is home to more ‘stars’ than you can see with naked eyes on a clear night.
In the Bandra of yore, it was famously said that if you threw a stone here, it would hit either a pig, a priest or a Pereira (thanks to its muddy villages and a Catholic stronghold). The saying has made way for a new one! If you were to throw a pebble now, it would land up on a movie star!
Considering all the swanky ocean facing apartments with jaw-dropping price tags here, no wonder, can only be afforded by super rich celebs!
Outlined with coconut trees and gravel seashore, Bandra is also the hub of chic cafes, thumping discotheques, promenades frequented by joggers with not an ounce of fat on their toned bodies, cathedrals and upscale bungalows.
However, more than the haughty residents, the place is brimming by enthusiastic star-gazers and tourists on a visit to Mumbai. A small sight of their favourite superstar stretching on his Bandstand balcony or driving his Porsche around the vicinity is all these die-hard fans want.
One stop shop
Besides housing showrooms of International luxury brand, Bandra also boasts of being a flea-market paradise. Spread out across Waterfield Road and Linking Road, flea-markets and a selection of small established stores offer stuff to die for.
From replicas of high-end labels to fun local garb, pick cool things at throw away prices.
While Linking Road has makeshift shacks and peddlers offering beautiful trinkets, apparels, bags, shoes and cosmetics, Waterfield Road has a small selection of shops with lesser known brands and petty boutiques.
The colourful and thriving markets would leave a shopper restless. Try to check out all shops on Linking Road before you finally make a purchase. It is likely that you come across the same stuff at various shops quoting unidentical rates. Settle for the one offering the cheapest deal. And as a rule of thumb, bargain blatantly! I figured out a few ‘laws’ of bargaining at flea-markets:
- Slash the quoted price to half and let the trader offer you the best price eventually. Be patient in the process.
- Don’t try to haggle much when other buyers are around. Shopkeepers are reluctant to lower prices drastically before a larger group.
- Don’t look too thrilled on finding something you have been long searching for. Showing much excitement will allow the vendor to act pricey and kill you chances to buy cheap.
- Even if something excites you, hold and check it out calmly while pretending to look through other stuff as well. Composedly bargain for the item you loved originally.
- Most importantly, search for flaws in the stuff. One to point them out to the vendor and compel him to go easy on price. Secondly, to make sure you don’t end up buying damaged goods.
- Be judicious! The vendors earn little profit out of sales. Don’t quote pathetically low on genuinely good items. Be friendly, smile and don’t waste others’ time haggle over things you don’t mean to buy eventually.
Besides the shops lining the Linking Road, visit the ones inside the narrow lanes and basements. They churn out unbelievable stuff at a quarter prices you pay at posh showrooms. I particularly love to pick statement jewelry, belts, bags and ethnic/ western clothes here. Some shops even have trial rooms to be sure of size and fit before you buy.
A few nice restobars, lounges, cafes are scattered all over the place along with good old street food hawkers. Enjoy shopping and take breaks to treat your taste buds too.
Waterfield Road, on the other hand, has an impressive line-up of stores and boutiques. Reiss, Rumours, High By Harry’s among others are a few shops selling colourful designs from local labels. They are generally fixed-priced shops with sales attendants to help you with selections. Don’t bargain but ensure you collect payment receipts for return or exchange later.
Most of the trinkets are sold at throw away prices.
UTV Walk of Stars
Like Hollywood Bouleward’s Walk Of Fame in LA, Bandra too boasts of its UTV Walk Of Stars.
The 2 kilometer (1.2 miles) stretch on sea facing Bandstand Promenade is dedicated to the timeless actors of the Hindi cinema.
From statues of legends like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor to autographs and palm impressions of popular actors etched in pavement brass plates, the UTV Walk Of Stars is a kaleidoscope of Bollywood’s journey over the years.
The attraction is free for all to visit and click pictures with. It is maintained by UTV which further plans to add more statues and palm impressions.
The rocky shore of Bandstand, overlooking the magnanimous Bandra-Worli sea link, draws major crowd.
Besides providing a romantic pulpit to lovers, it also witnesses a lot of film and tv shoots.
Bandstand’s lavish apartments accommodate many popular former and contemporary actors. However, India’s most loved actor Shahrukh Khan’s fort like bungalow ‘Mannat’ enjoys an iconic status.
Sunset at Banstand
It makes an amusing yet delightful sight with his fans, from India and abroad, queuing up before the villa’s gates just to get a picture clicked with the nameplate reading ‘Mannat’ if not landing an opportunity to see the star in person. Such is the charisma of ‘King Khan’ as he is fondly known as!
Another celebrated actor Salman Khan doesn’t lag behind when it comes to fans queuing up before his doors.
Galaxy Apartments on Bandstand is where the brawny actor occupies two floors along with his filmy family including actor brothers Sohail, Arbaz, script writer father Salim and mother Salma.
Though not anywhere close to Mannat in grandeur, Galaxy Apartment draws ecstatic fans chasing cars plying to and fro the gates in anticipation to catch a glimpse of Salman. On festivals like Eid, the crowd is enormous. Actors like Katrina Kaif, John Abraham, Rekha, Preity Zinta among many others too have homes on Bandstand.
Date with heritage
Castella De Aguada, meaning Water Castle is also known as Bandra Fort. Built by the Portuguese in 1640 to keep a vigil over the Arabian Sea, Mahim Bay and Mahim Island, the fort has seen the time when Bombay was a cluster of seven separate islands.
The fort remains adjacent to the hotel Taj Lands End and provides a stunning view of the Sea-link. Moreover, it is a favourite with filmmakers who readily shoot here. Among hundreds of movies shot here, a few are Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, Wanted, Buddha Mil Gaya, Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na. I don’t want to begin with advertisements featuring the fort !
Given to its strong Catholic culture, Bandra also boasts of some beautiful cathedrals. Mt Mary’s Church, St. Peter’s, NLF Avatar Church and St. Andrew’s would lift up your spirits.
The glory extends till Carter Road
While Bandra spells of expensive pads, Carter Road is home to old huge mansions of yesteryear’s filmstars like Rajesh Khanna, Dilip Kumar & Saira Banu, Shatrughan Sinha, sports star Sachin Tendulkar and many more. Carter Road too enjoys its share of shoreline and a bustling neighbourhood. Carter Road Promenade along the sea stretches till Bandra.
Recently, a new attraction ‘The Bat of Honour’ was erected on the promenade to commemorate India’s most celebrated cricketer Sachin Tendulkar memorable career. Touted as the World’s largest steel bat, the magnanimous structure stands more than 25 feet high and weighs over two tonnes. Located close to Master Blaster’s home, ‘The Bat of Honour’ signifies India’s passion for cricket and the game’s ‘God’.
Bandra presents an interesting potpourri. Here East meets the West and the Old meets the New. A true reflection of Mumbai’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. There is a lot more to write about Bandra, like its thumping discos/ pubs and multi-cultural cuisines. Visit my blog later to check out another blog.