For those who haven’t viewed Mumbai’s past and present and its people with the wind in their hair, a ride on the open double-decker bus that showcases the city’s various colours is a must.
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Nilambari, a large blue attraction that generates reactions from the streets, has paraded the Indian cricket team when they won the World Cup and most recently Rio2016 Olympic Silver medalist P V Sindhu.
Mumbai’s own version of the internationally popular ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tourism project created curiosities on and off the bus.
“The perspective is unique, more than anything else you feel like you own a bus, which makes it a special journey because you would be those 20-odd people in the city who get to do this while the others can’t,” said professional photographer Sidharth Vasani who was on the bus last December.
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With the tour giving a quick tutorial on the city, mainly the historic sections of south Mumbai, the city for its riders feels like a museum with a guide explaining the tales that haven’t been told.
Besides the sporting heroes who have been driven on the streets filled with their fans, the bus is also open to be hired for shooting films and celebrations at separate rates.
“It was my friend’s birthday and he was not from Mumbai. We took a journey from Bandra to Nariman Point and back. We took the Bandra Worli Sea Link and let off balloons just to celebrate his birthday,” said Vijay Deshmukh, who resides in Dadar and has booked the bus again next week.
After Nilambari experience, a key part of the ‘Mumbai Darshan’ programme, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has a master plan of starting more routes for such bus tours in the city, including one to Sanjay Gandhi National Park-Kanheri caves, and another connecting various museums around south Mumbai.
The bus starts from Gateway of India and brings the passengers back to the same point after passing through the city stopping at 16 points. The stops include Vidhan Bhavan, Oberoi Hotel, Marine Drive, Churchgate railway station, Eros Theatre, Oval Maidan, Maharshi Karve Road, Rajabai Tower, CST railway station building, DN Road, Hutatma Chowk, Homi Modi Street, Horniman Circle and Asiatic Library.