Best Mumbai shops for travelers
Everyone's looking for the same things from Mumbai shops: scarves, sandals, spiritual enlightenment. But no one wants to head home looking like every other Om-stamped chump who set foot on the subcontinent.
The merchandise in these 10 exemplary stores and markets makes it hard to decide what to gift and what to keep for yourself. Don't worry, locals have the same problem.
Bombay Electric: Quirky pashmina scarf
You’re probably looking for a scarf of the sought-after pashmina variety. They make a great gift for a guy or a girl. But you're probably also worried about agonizing over percentages of cashmere in some backroom gallery.
In Mumbai, skip the classic egg hunt and go straight for gold.
Our favorites are Anupamaa’s cashmere scarves available at Bombay Electric in colorful tie-dyes and fun prints (approximately Rs 10,500) which manage to be both "Bombay" and totally electric.
If you do want a more understated option, browse through Bombay Electric’s extensive scarf racks.
Good luck choosing, each stole is cozier and lovelier than the last.
Some favorites include Kashmir Loom’s rainbow stripe pashmina, Women Weave’s handmade khadi scarves, and the aptly-named Pashmina’s insanely soft cashmere in an array of delicate shades (Rs 8,000-12,000).
Bombay Electric, 1 Reay House, Best Marg, Colaba; +91 (0) 22 2287 6276
Anupam Chappals: Kohlapuri in your color
We all have a crush, men and women alike, on kohlapuris -- the handy toe-ringed leather chappals, or slippers.
They’re comfortable (once worn in), they’re iconically Indian and they’re versatile enough to take home and wear daily. And they’re everywhere.
Sold in every corner of every market of Mumbai, not to mention upscale versions in fancy shoe stores.
So where to go?
Anupam Chappals in Colaba Causeway, just south of the Nike Mumbai shop, is famous for its walls lined with the cheap chappals in almost every color imaginable.
These are the real deal -- stitched, instead of glued, for longer life.
Expect to pay about Rs 200-250 per pair. Or, if you want to skip haggling altogether, head around the corner to Joy Shoes at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel shopping arcade.
They sell a simple, elegant version of the shoe and will custom dye the leather in any color you like.
Anupam Chappals, Citywalk House, Next to Citywalk Shoes, Colaba Causeway, Colaba; +91 98207 78409
Joy Shoes, Taj Mahal Palace, P J Ramchandani Marg, Apollo Bandar; +91 (0) 22 22028696
Le Mill: Enamel bowls and boxes
If you’ve taken a couple spins around Mumbai, you’ve seen the stacked tiffins that workers use to carry their lunch.
Generally these lunchboxes are metal, but if you’re lucky you may catch sight of one of the beautiful blue or green enamel versions.
Buy your own at Le Mill. Mumbai’s new hot-topic concept store stocks the tiffins, as well as lovely enamel salad bowls in various sizes and colors (Rs 350 for a medium).
And while you’re at it, stick around at Le Mill and enjoy one of the delicious dishes at their café (recommended: the shredded beef salad with mint and pomegranate, Rs 375).
Le Mill, 17-25 Nandlal Jani Road, Wadi Bunder, next to Wadi Bunder New Railway Bridge; +91 (0)22 2374 2415
Colaba Causeway and Vile Parle market: Oodles of bangles
Start with Popli & Sons in Colaba, where you’ll find a range of delectable bangles and baubles, including beautiful wooden cuffs with enamel inlays.
Prices run from Rs 250 upwards, but you might be able to bargain down if you’re buying a bunch.
Bombay Electric’s in-house brand, Ghee Butter, also makes spanking fun styles. Look out for their bright, rhinestone-encrusted wooden bangles, or the simpler enamel bracelets tipped in a burnished gold.
However, if what you want is quantity over quality, your best bet is to wander up and down Colaba Causeway bargaining for loads of pretty glass bangles at amazingly cheap prices.
Or, to beat tourist prices, hop into a taxi and head up north to Vile Parle market, where your bangle wish is their command and you’ll find practically any glitzy style you can imagine in these Mumbai shops.
Be forewarned -- the quality matches the price and glass bangles can break before your plane touches down back home.
More on CNNGo: Best Mumbai jewelers: 1 day itinerary
Popli & Sons, Readymoney Building, Battery Street, Apollo Bunder, behind Regal Cinema, next to Gordon House Hotel, Colaba; +91 (0) 22 2202 1694
Chor Bazaar: Classic Bollywood film poster
Welcome to Mumbai’s famed Chor Bazaar, the market of thieves, home to heaps of wonderful and neglected objects -- old rotary phones, Coca-Cola coolers, wicker picnic baskets, massive carved Ganeshas.
If you’re willing to hunt through the flotsam and jetsam you’ll find something worth carting home, guaranteed.
If you’re tight on time or baggage allowance, look for the singular pop of the Bollywood poster at the following Mumbai shops.
First, head to Mini Market, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by owner Aziz Mansoori, who has been manning the shop for 32 years.
He specializes in Raj-era sepia reprints of maharajas, and hilarious Polaroid photos shot on Bollywood sets in the 1970s.
For big and modern posters, head down the street to A-1 Corner. If the usual "Sholay" and "Mother India" movie poster prints don’t suffice, ask to be taken to the back room.
Posters go for approximately Rs 300 each.
Mini Market, 31 Mutton St., Chor Bazaar
A-1 Corner, 99 Mutton St., Chor Bazaar
Anokhi: Block-printed Rajasthani fabrics
The best place to buy printed fabrics in India is Rajasthan, failing which you find a Rajasthani chain of Mumbai shops.
Anokhi is famous for its hand-made wooden block prints on lightweight cottons and silk.
They will stamp a beautiful motif onto practically anything -- tablecloths, cushion covers, cosmetic purses, bedspreads, crinkled chiffon scarves, and its own lovely line of East-meets-West clothing.
Anokhi’s beautiful blankets, -- ask for Jaipuri quilts -- are a special favorite. It may be too hot in the Mumbai heat to even think about curling up with a cup of cocoa and a book, but try to think ahead.
To the frigid plane ride, for example.
Anokhi, Rasik Niwas, Metro Motors Lane, Dr. A. R. Rangnekar Marg, off Hughes Road, +91 (0)22 2368 5761; www.anokhi.com
Forest Essentials: Ayurveda skin products
If you’re more interested in the saintly scents of Ayurveda than in its medical potential, head to Forest Essentials to pick up some of the loveliest-smelling skin and hair oils, soaps and lotions on the subcontinent.
Forest Essentials only uses natural fruit and vegetable oils, which are all cold-pressed to retain their essential nutrients.
The result? An expensive line of ice cream-thick lotions (Rs 800-1,200) and dew-slick massage oils (Rs 575-1,200), washes and masques in such delectable scents as Bengal tuberose, Mashobra wild honey, Madurai jasmine, and Mysore sandalwood, all of which evoke the image of a maharani’s perfumed garden.
11 Foreshore Apartments, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu; +91 (0)22 6522 4480; Palladium, Lower Parel; +91 (0)22 6615 0356; Shop no.12, Opposite Mahalaxmi Temple, Bhulabhai Desai Road; +91 (0)22 2351 1456; www.forestessentialsindia.com
Obataimu: Vintage hip flask
If hunting through markets isn’t your thing, leave it to Obataimu to source your vintage for you.
We love the old hip flasks (Rs 6,000), sourced from the back-alleys of Mumbai markets, and in an unexpected twist, covered in brightly dyed leather made of fish-skin.
Obataimu spent a year developing the process of tanning leather from skins that would otherwise go to waste, and the result is a roughly elegant accessory for both men and women.
It’s upscale, downscale and fish-scale all in one.
For a brighter idea, take a look at Obataimu’s object lights and fixtures made from vintage pieces such as a buttermilk churner, a rotary telephone, or a child’s tricycle.
The Obataimu pop-up store closed recently, but you can shop by appointment at their studio in Mahalaxmi.
By appointment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Fabindia: Comfortable harem pants
For a lightweight, blouse-y cotton version of this tourist favorite, go to Fabindia, a veritable emporium of affordable Indian silhouettes in an endless array of fun prints and colors and ask for "salwar" pants.
The cuts and styles are simple and don’t scream “India” so you can bring separates home and integrate them into your everyday wardrobe easily.
Fabindia sources their fabrics and products directly from over 7,500 artisans across the country, in their commitment to maintaining traditional hand loom weaving and printing techniques.
Fabindia flagship, Jeroo Building, 137 M.G. Road, Kala Ghoda; +91 (0)22 2262 6539; www.fabindia.com
Good Earth: Contemporary India for your home
No shopping excursion in Mumbai is complete without a visit to Good Earth’s flagship Mumbai shop in Raghuvanshi Mills.
You’ll feel instantly transported to the India of your fantasy -- an India without honking horns, without the sweat and heat, an India which smells of softly falling lotus petals, where an elephants slowly rambles by your cool pavilion.
You can bring that feeling home with you.
Nearly everything lining Good Earth's walls is whimsical, sophisticated, delightful, or straight-up gorgeous. But if decisions must be made, we recommend the Periyar porcelain collection sprinkled with palms and limned in gold (Rs 2,800 for a teapot), the pop-art pillows screened with mustachioed rajas, the gem-toned Cartouche tea glasses (Rs 3,800 for six), or the simple, fat lotus candles.
Good Earth, Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel +91 (0)22 2495 1954; www.goodearthindia.com