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Modern Mumbai is one of the most expensive places in the world (with photos)

November 17, 2007

Certain parts of India these days have a spanking new look. Yesterday I took a trip to ‘town’ as Mumbaikars call it. ‘Town’ is ‘South’ Mumbai and it’s a place where people would give anything to own an apartment. Everything except money that this… ) Real estate prices here are some of the highest in the world and they are not showing any signs of retreating. In fact prices have increased by about 20-26% in the last year or so.

An article in a recent issue of the ET says:

Suave residential areas in the south of many cities reflect a style that is rare and distinct. Be it the open, green spaces in South Delhi’s posh Shanti Niketan area or the sea-facing balconies of Nariman Point and Churchgate in South Mumbai, there is something about these locations that make people swoon…So what Upper East Side is to Manhattan or the western Kensington district is to London — is what ‘south’ is to Delhi, Mumbai and even Chennai and Kolkata.

In short, in India ‘south’ is where the rich and famous or anyone aspiring to be so would like to be. The south of any metro — South Mumbai for instance — has become a brand that can give top luxury marquees stiff competition.

In South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar an apartment on a 400 sq yards plot went for Rs 5 crore (USD 1273885). In South Delhi’s Asiad Village a villa, just 215 sq yards, was sold for as much as Rs 3 crore.

In South Mumbai, Malabar Hill is one of the best areas to live in (the Chief Minister also has his house here, facing a beach), the rates are about Rs 29,000/ sq ft. Other posh South Mumbai areas are at Napean Sea Road, Breach Candy and Peddar Road. This site gives the property rates of all the areas in Mumbai.

And here are the photographs. The first photograph is of Haji Ali Dargah, which is in Worli, on an islet off the coast, and this road (one that overlooks Haji Ali) is one of the roads that links the rest of the city to South Mumbai.

The photograph below is one that I took from a friend’s apartment on Napean Sea Road, on Malabar Hill. It faces Priyadarshani Park and it’s this park which can be seen in the picture. The jogging path can be seen under the trees.

The most famous road in South Mumbai is Marine Drive and people tend to come here for a walk, a read, a cuddle, or simply to sit and stare at the sea.

I had mentioned in a previous post that renovation was going on at Marine Drive, as part of a beautification project. Well, a part of it is over. And the place is very clean.

The most well-known beach in Mumbai is Chowpatty. The water here is not clean but local people do swim here. The beach is quite crowded in the evening.

If you go a little ahead, a road to the left takes you up Malabar Hill. As we drove up I noticed the haze over the horizon even though it was three ‘o’ clock in the afternoon. This smog is a recent phenomena. And no, that’s not me in the car.

Now we come to the bad news, the downside of modernisation. Yesterday’s newspaper headline read: The sun may be shining on India, but we are getting less and less sunlight. This isn’t metaphorical but an actuality. A research paper by Padma Kumari from the The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorogy published in the New Scientist says:

India is getting about 5% less sunlight than it did 20 years ago…The decrease was greater during the 1990s than the 1980s, and on average corresponded to a 5% drop in sunshine over the two decades…a cloud of tiny air-borne particles released by the nation’s industries hovers above the subcontinent, blocking light from reaching the Earth…and data from from China suggests it is getting less and less sun as well because of rising particle pollution linked to industrialisation…

Similar dimming has been caused by Western nations too. The smog produced by the US and Europe during the 20th century spread worldwide and was responsible for a phase of “global dimming”

However, the West has got rid of it’s smog pollution, and this means there is hope for India! But it looks like the situation is set to get worse before it can get better. We may possess spanking new cities and brand new cars but there is a price to pay.

But be prepared. Once the smog is taken care of we’ll face the heat, literally speaking. ‘Solar dimming” protects against global warming and once it goes we’ll get brighter, but hotter cities.

(All photographs have been taken by me yesterday)

Related Viewing: A photo-essay of a traffic signal in Mumbai
An aerial view of Mumbai city and suburbs
A slide show of a sunset in Mumbai
Mumbai to refurbish plus photos of some Mumbai landmarks
View all posts filed under the category of Photography
View all posts filed under the category of SlideShows
An email forward about the Mumbaikar in a nutshell

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. aditi permalink
    November 17, 2007 6:25 pm

    hey I like those pics, specially the one of the birds.
    your mention of global dimming is interesting…in some towns it’s much worse. In Kolkata (where I have lived once) it used to be quite dark, darker than in Mumbai. wonder why because industrialisation is more here!

  2. November 17, 2007 6:27 pm

    Aditi, I think the reason for the darker atmosphere in Kolkata is different. I have heard that there is a problem of soot, but I need to find out more about the subject.

  3. November 17, 2007 6:36 pm

    I really enjoyed those snap shots!

    I wonder if there are ways to industrialize without excessive pollution? By which I mean, ways cheap enough for a newly industrializing society to afford?

  4. November 17, 2007 6:46 pm

    Paul, If you ask me I think it’s also the will to do these thngs! it’s like we are so set on expanding at a furious rate that everything else ceases to matter. luckily we have systems and institutions in place which make unprecedented growth/polllution more difficult, unlike China. In China there are no birds! we are not that badly off, but what we are going through is bad enough. and there are not enough people to care as the focus is on other things…
    reminds me of Maslow’s Need Hierarchy from a nation’s point of view.

  5. November 17, 2007 7:07 pm

    I think Maslow’s Need Hierarchy is a brilliant analogy!

  6. November 17, 2007 9:58 pm

    Hi Nita,

    I have passed along an award I received from Gautami last week to you. It’s called ‘A Roar For Powerful Words’ and I think you are a worthy writer.

  7. November 17, 2007 10:50 pm


    I love that term ‘roar for powerful words.’ Thank you Brian.
    And just like you did, I am going to feel uncomfortable passing on this award without hurting blogger friends. Need to think about this.

  8. axinia permalink
    November 18, 2007 2:23 am

    Nita, I love your photo-reports… Aslways authentic, natural and made with love!

  9. November 18, 2007 4:04 am

    Thanks Nita – for the wonderful pics that brought back memories of my days spent in Mumbai. 🙂

  10. November 18, 2007 11:45 am

    Mumbai city…
    where once local medical students used to ask me for tips to the better eateries in the city.
    A city where, while driving through on a bike, I have seen the whores of Kamatipura physically drag an unwilling man into a building. A city where I have spent some short, eventful, memorable years.
    Thanks for the pix!

  11. November 18, 2007 12:21 pm

    Axinia, Amit, thanks.
    Rdoc, you seem to have had an interesting life! 🙂 gets me wondering about your eventful life in Kolkata!

  12. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    November 18, 2007 2:16 pm

    Rambodoc, Nita:

    It’s rare to come across a compliment from Kolkata to Mumbai. Of course it is probably easier for a naturalised Kolkatan to advance than one to the manner born — always making an exception in the case of Bachi Karkaria. 🙂

  13. November 18, 2007 9:18 pm

    The city would look better if we manage to turn it into at least half Shanghai.

  14. November 19, 2007 1:02 am

    It gives me some hope that Nigeria will be able to clean up its cities…gradually and eventually…

  15. November 19, 2007 1:30 am

    Catwalq, I am sure nigeria too will be able to clean it’s cities…and in fact some parts of the city are beautiful I am quite sure, though it was a long time ago when I was in Nigeria.
    And in any case the part I showed in these pics here is the best part of mumbai, and mumbai has it’s ugly side!

  16. wishtobeanon... permalink
    November 19, 2007 8:25 am

    I liked the second picture. We need more greenery to make up for the pollution.
    Nice pictures.

    Thanks. 🙂 – Nita.

  17. shivaji choudhury permalink
    November 29, 2007 11:44 am

    NASA scientists studying data have discovered an immense wintertime pool of pollution over the northern indian state of Bihar.
    while high pollution levels were found over much of india,a concentrated pool of particles was discovered over bihar,alargely rural area with a high population desity.Pollution levels are five time larger than normal.A large source contributing to the Bihar pollution is the inefficientburning of variety of biofuels durig cooking and other domestic use.

  18. sanat parmar permalink
    July 30, 2011 7:57 pm

    I liked the article and the pictures were to good.

  19. December 9, 2011 2:01 pm

    Lovely pictures, lovely Mumbai and lovely people in it, like the icing on top of the cake…

    I hope you got room for three more people because we’re coming and we’re coming to stay!

    Whatever your country lacks in quality of air it should make up to me in quality of life!

    Now a question…
    I see how all those waterfront residential areas are supposed to be posh and expensive but I am sure not all apartments are meant for the Bollywood jetset, eh? It can’t be that there arent apartments in the 300-400$ a month range? Right?

    On the other hand, Chowpatty looks laid back, not congested and yet distinctively Indian…how much would rent be there for an average apartment for three? What would an average apartment for three be like? (how many rooms? how big etc…)

    Thank you in advance for any replies.

    • December 9, 2011 2:59 pm

      For $400 a month (approx ₹21000/-) you will get a one bedroom place in one of the less posh suburbs like santa cruz or khar. And it won’t be waterfront. you may get it in a decent locality but the quality of the apartment is likely to be poor. Mumbai is one of the most expensive places in the world to live and if you are looking for a 2 bedroom apartment it will cost you anything upwards of ₹35000/- a month and that too not in a posh place. For $400 you will get a place for 3 in a decent locality in Thane.
      And as for the Chowpatty area, that’s near South Mumbai. It is a posh area and rents will be higher than in the western suburbs like santa cruz or khar.

      • December 14, 2011 8:00 pm

        I see…you kind of upset my budget programming =) sounds like mumbai is a bit too rich for my blood indeed!

        I looked Thane up due to your suggestion though and it looks just fine. it’s also pretty close to Mumbai proper from what I can tell. Being in or around mumbai is a must for me due to professional reasons.

        How is the commuting though? How much time would an average train or bus ride to Mumbai be? How frequent would buses and trains be?

        Thank you very much for taking time to reply…

        And please could you provide me with any helpful links so I can look all that up by myself without having to bother you further?

        • December 15, 2011 11:43 am

          There are various ways of commuting, by mumbai locals (train) or by road. Train may not work for you if you are not used to crowded locals. Even the first class is very crowded although it is slightly better in the afternoons (mumbai is in the process of improving the rail connections but it will take a few years). Trains arrive every few minutes and are the most reliable form of transport except in the monsoon when they are erratic. Buses are also available although less frequent (say half an hour to 45 mins) but there are timings and AC buses are also available. The problem is that it could take about 2 hours to reach. A taxi ride from Thane to say Bandra could cost ₹500 and to south mumbai ₹600 one way. It can take from an hour to an hour and a half to reach depending whether you go in rush hour or not. A lot of people use their own vehicle which is faster than a bus and cheaper than a taxi. In other words, transportation is a tough call, but people still stay in Thane to get an affordable house.
          About links, I do not know of any particular ones. However there are many sites and I think googling would solve the problem.

          • December 16, 2011 6:13 pm

            Hehe…I think you’re mistaking me and my family for snubb westerners that can’t tolerate coming into physical contact with the other commuters in a train, or that can’t stand the sight of a single cockroarch or external wiring in their apartment.
            Not by far, I tell you!
            Yes, we’re born and raised European, but we’ve been to India(Mumbai included) a couple of times during vacations and we love India for what it is, as it is.
            It’s just that as a vacationer I never really paid any attention to train schedules and such because I was never really following a tight schedule myself. I expect that will change as I move into India as a professional.
            Anyway, you’ve been quite helpful, thank you very much. I’ll keep following this excellent blog as it seems to provide a rather interesting insight into modern India!

  20. Heena rabari permalink
    December 17, 2014 11:09 am

    My dream ….to leave in mumbai ..I love mumbai

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