Aksa Beach – Mumbai
A vast expanse of sparkling sea and uninterrupted vistas of bright open skies, solitude, privacy and a whole world unto you to discover and enjoy – This may be the ideal beach holiday image that most of us have. But here is a landscape so similar but a vibe so different. Welcome to the concept of city beaches, these urban breathing spaces are the very heart and soul of so many cities of the world, that are blessed enough to have their own beaches. In India, two of the major metros are located slap bang on the sea and offer a variety of beach experiences.
Chennai is famous for its Marina Beach. This long and sandy beach is among one of the longest beaches in the world. One of the most appealing options is to sit on the golden sands of the beach and welcome a new day with a glorious sunrise. We would strongly advise against swimming in the waters here as the undercurrent is very strong. But it is definitely interesting to take in the whole cultural experience that this stretch offers, for the road lining the beach is dotted with statues of people that hold cultural and historical importance for India. Also housed on this stretch of Chennai are the Senate house of The Madras University, Chepauk Palace, The Presidency College and the P.W.D office. There is also an aquarium right next to it where you can gain a better appreciation of marine aquatic life.
But more than anything it is the almost fair-like ambience that this lovely beach dons every evening and on weekends that makes this beach almost magical. With hawkers selling trinkets, food stalls selling the local street food and pony rides thrown in, this beach is a symbol of festivity.
On the western coast of India is the pulsating city of Mumbai, well known as the glitzy cultural and commercial capital of India. At odds with the tearing hurry that this city always seems to be in, the city beaches provide a place where you can just sit back and take some time out and sort out troubles with the backdrop of the gorgeous sea and the skies stretching endlessly. Mumbai has a huge love affair with its beaches and most of them have recently been spruced up and cleaned and made enticing again.
Starting off with the famous Chowpatty beach and the gentle curve of the most prominent landmark of Mumbai, the Queen’s necklace at Marine Drive, would give you a good idea of how so much of Mumbai’s life is centered around the beach. You can enjoy it like the common man does, by spending a lazy evening gazing at the sea and gorging on the absolutely lip smacking food at the food centre or splurge at a high end restaurant for an evening meal with a stunning view of the Queen’s necklace and the beach and the sea. You can choose from the unique revolving restaurant, The Pearl of the Orient, in the Ambassador Hotel, or you can choose to unwind with cocktails on the beach front at Salt Water Grill located right on one end of the beach or sit at The Dome at the Intercontinental situated on the sea face.
For those who are more adventurous, you can venture out for a bit of parasailing and jet skiing on the waters of the Arabian Sea at this beach. If you know a member of the Mafatlal Bath at Chowpatty beach you can even head out for a good old fashioned boat rowing experience at dawn and feed the abundant sea gulls. These services are however discontinued during the monsoons as the sea is too choppy
Another fabulous beach is the Juhu beach. A lot longer than it’s counterpart in South Mumbai, this beach spans the suburbs of Santa Cruz right through to Andheri. This prime estate is choc a block with restaurants and lounges where you can relax and take in the sights and sounds and the energetic vibe that defines Mumbai. Another festive environment awaits you at the Juhu beach and what is so exclusive to this beach is the way the entire vibe changes from one stretch of the beach to the other. From a virtual fair at one end, it has a ritzy bungalows and hotel feel at the other. So eat at the food plaza right on the beach or chill out with cocktails at the five stars that dot this beach or settle down for some fun times at the sea facing coffee joints like Mocha and Barista or at lounges such as Vie which sits right on the beach, there is something for everyone to enjoy and make their own,
There are also the quiet and more resort oriented beaches of Mumbai namely Madh Island and Marwe Beach, but they are more for those who want to get away from the city and it’s madness where as the other beaches are a virtual embodiment of the craziness that define urban life.
You can get a great insight into any city from its beaches because no matter what, the sea invariably draws the citizens in, no matter who they are, how rich they are and no matter what they do. From the melting pots that are these beaches you can piece together the very essence of the city, its people and its culture. So the next time you are in any of these cities be sure to check these beaches out.