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Grand Mumbai Tours: Market Tour Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Grand Mumbai Tours: Market Tour Review

Crawford Market exterior.

Sharell Cook
Mumbai's chaotic market maze, while fascinating to explore, can be daunting to negotiate. Vendors and shoppers all jostle for space in overcrowded lanes and aisles. Grand Mumbai's market tour takes the hassle out of trying to find your way around, and with a visit to nearby historic Chhatrapati Shivaji (Victoria Terminus) railway station during peak time as well, provides an unforgettable Mumbai experience.

My Mumbai Market Tour Experience

A decade ago, I visited Mumbai for the first time. Exploring Crawford Market was high on my list of things to do. However, I still vividly remember my failed attempt at it. Sadly, I felt too daunted to go in. I envisaged myself becoming completely overwhelmed in the crowds and disarray. Since then, I've felt that Mumbai's markets are one attraction that are best seen with someone who's familiar with them.

When I admitted to Grand Mumbai Tours owner Pranav, on his Ganesh festival tour, that I'd never been inside Mumbai's most famous markets, he invited me to accompany him on his Mumbai market tour. Of course, I was delighted!

On the morning of the tour, Pranav sent an air conditioned car to my home to get me and take me to south Mumbai. Pleasingly, it arrived on time. Since I'd already been to Chor Bazaar previously, we decided on the golden trio of markets -- Crawford Market, Mangaldas Market, and Zaveri Bazar. They're all with in close walking distance of each other.

Vegetable sellers inside Crawford Market.

Sharell Cook.

As we approached Crawford Market, Pranav informed me about the history of the market. Then we stepped inside, right into the fruit section. In my wonderment, I narrowly avoided colliding with a worker carrying a couple of baskets and boxes on his head. And indeed, I would spend most of my time in there ducking and weaving from people everywhere!

We made our way slowly through the various sections of the market, selling everything from cane baskets to sheesha pipes. Nuts, spices, toiletries, baby diapers, oil, animals, birds, and imported foods could all be found there, in overflowing stalls. Since Diwali was approaching, there were also colorful hand painted diyas and paper lanterns.

As we left Crawford Market and headed across the road towards Mangaldas Market, we passed vendors selling a blinding variety of fake flowers. Yet it's Mangaldas Market, Mumbai's famous wholesale cloth market, that's every woman's dream. Housed in another dilapidated old building, its narrow aisles are abundant with saris and dress material of every type. It was one of those places where I wanted to buy everything, so I ended up buying nothing. I would need to return with a shopping list and strategy!

From Mangaldas Market, we went to Zaveri Bazaar, where most of what glitters is gold! This well known gold and jewellery hub is where shoppers come to get the best prices on precious metals and stones. In the midst of it all, Pranav led me to the Mumbadevi Temple, dedicated to the goddess Mumbai whom the city of Mumbai was named after. I knew it was in the area, but I would've struggled to find it without his help, as it's almost buried by the clutter of buildings.

Pranav usually takes his clients inside the ornate Victoria Terminus railway station from here to witness the seething peak hour rush, which is a distinctive (and astounding!) Mumbai spectacle that must be seen to be believed. However, as I'm already accustomed to riding the Mumbai local, my tour came to an end after a refreshing drink of fresh coconut water straight from the coconut, which Pranav purchased for me from a roadside vendor.

Having Pranav show me around the markets was invaluable, as his local knowledge ensured I didn't miss out on anything that I most likely would've otherwise. What's more, it gave me a reassuring level of comfort amongst the chaos.

Grand Mumbai Market Tour Details

The tour is a walking tour that departs daily at 5 p.m. and runs for 2-3 hours, ending at Victoria Terminus train station. It can also be taken as a customized personal tour, so you can see what you want, when you want. Chor Bazaar and Dadar flower market (early in the morning) are other popular markets to visit.

Why I Recommend Grand Mumbai Tours

Grand Mumbai Tours owner Pranav and me, having coconut water.

Sharell Cook

Owner Pranav took a leap of faith and gave up a promising engineering career to focus on his passion -- showing people the spirit Mumbai. Born and brought up in the city, he combines thorough local knowledge with admirable enthusiasm, to go above and beyond what other tour companies offer.

Pranav makes his tours unique by adding elements that are absent in the tours of other companies, for example actually entering Victoria Terminus (and during its most spectacular time of day) instead of simply viewing it from outside. In addition, his tours are particularly comprehensive and innovative, meaning that clients get to see more of the city than what's covered on other similar tours.

I also noticed that Pranav is very reliable, and responds to potential client inquiries promptly and in depth. As he specializes in personalized tours, clients can be assured of getting the best itinerary according to their interests.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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