12 HOURS IN AND AROUND JUHU
When someone says Juhu, you immediately think of the eponymous beach that beckons hundreds of tourists to its shores and stalls. While that image is authentic, what is also true is that these crowds thin out the further inland you travel. By the time you reach the leafy lanes of JVPD, you’ll see few people on the sidewalks but many models of the latest BMW or Audi. This largely residential area is home to many famous families, but it also houses some cultural delights, themed eateries and shopping gems that will take up your entire day. But first, you have to hit the beach.
If you wake up an hour early, you live an hour more. This especially holds true if you’re planning to visit Juhu Beach. Land there after 8 a.m. and it’s impossible to walk 100 metres without running into people or tripping over dogs. Get there just before the sunrise, and you can join other dedicated joggers for a brisk run along the shoreline. The southern end of the beach is relatively quiet. Enter from the lane next to Granth Bookstore and make your way upwards towards all the action.
Option A – Aromas Cafe
Every early morning run (jog/walk/crawl) deserves a hearty breakfast, and at Aromas you’ll find food for all kinds of souls. From muesli and berry yogurt parfait for the calorie conscious to the Big Breakfast (eggs, hash browns, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms) for the indulgent, Aromas has it all. Portions are generous and the rosti with cheese and jalapenos is a meal by itself. Even if you aren’t particularly peckish, go for classic coffee and croissant combination and it will linger in your memory for the entire day. Aromas Cafe, Ground Floor, 52, Gazebo House, Gulmohar Road, Below Country Club Fitness, Cross Road Number 7, Juhu Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6022 6262
Option B – Fable
Fable is charming and quirky in just the right measure. Whimsical pictures painted in black across open yellowed books mounted on the, vintage telephones, and mismatched cutlery are the standout features of this fairytale setting. The breakfast menu is concise, and their bagel with cream cheese, avocado, and sun-dried tomatoes is the hero of this short story. The barley and quinoa upma comes as a surprise, while the French toast with blueberry compote makes for a happy ending. Fable, Shop 3, Ashiyana Apartment, N.S. Road 13, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6022 6400
Option A – Helicopter Tours
After breakfast, let the party continue 700ft up in the air. A host of companies offer aerial tours of the city, with helicopters taking off from the Juhu Aerodrome. You can fly above the now-iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link, wave to tourists and locals on Chowpatty, or spot your reflection in the Golden Pagoda at Gorai. With a variety of options in terms of routes (North, South, East or Complete Mumbai) and durations (from 10 to 60 minutes), you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy, and hopefully your budget. Juhu Aerodrome, Vile Parle (e), Mumbai 400 056. Phone: 022 2661 6738
Option B – ISKCON Temple
If you want to soar without breaking the bank to pay for the flight, then your best bet is a spiritual high at ISKCON Temple. Like most temples built by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the one at Juhu is not just an architectural marvel but a hotbed for religious activity that is especially vibrant during festivals. The intricate marble facade and vivid paintings depicting scenes from the Mahabharatha are enough to keep even atheists interested. Apart from housing a research and education centre, a library, an auditorium, and a guesthouse for visitors, the compound also houses a vegetarian restaurant. ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 6860
Option A – Govinda’s
Any trip to ISKCON is incomplete without a meal at Govinda’s. When the words vegetarian, temple, and food are strung together in a sentence, they conjure up an image of a rather bland and boring meal. Govinda’s surprises patrons with its massive food spread and rich Jain preparations cooked in pure desi ghee. From aam panna and salads to kaju paneer and shrikhand, they’re all on the buffet table. You can also order South Indian dishes from the menu, though you may change your mind after one glance at the buffet spread. Govinda’s ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 6860
Option B – Dakshinayan
If all your heart desires is a South Indian meal, you can head to Dakshinayan for the nine types of white, fluffy orbs of guilt-free heaven they offer. If you can’t choose between Ambassador Idli (mini idlis in sambhar, topped with raw onions and coconut), Nei Idli soaked in ghee, and Tayir Idli dunked in curd, you’ll have to go with a large group. But you must go. If not for the idlis then for the crisp rava masala dosa and onion uttapam. Dakshinayan, Gandhigram Road, Near Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 8812
Option A – Chandan Cinema
If you’re lucky enough, your day out in Juhu may just coincide with the release of a highly anticipated Hindi film starring one of the superstars. You should book Stall tickets at Chandan and reach early to just soak in the atmosphere. You still have people whistling and cheering every time the hero enters, standing on seats during fight sequences, and dancing to songs along with the actors on screen. With its folding wooden seats, popcorn packets, and samosas in white paper bags, Chandan Cinema still holds on to some traces of its glorious days. Chandan Cinema, S Dnyaneshwar Marg, Near ISKCON Temple, Sainath Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 0437
Option B – Granth Book Store
The eternal debate about films vs. books will manifest itself in your itinerary as well. If you had to pick between three hours of watching Shah Rukh Khan serenade PYTs on screen or three hours reading George RR Martin while sipping on coffee, what would you decide on? If you have literary leanings, then Granth is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon. This two-storey bookstore stocks bestsellers and better-known titles in chic monochrome shelves and plays soft jazz in the background. Pro Tip: Grab one of the tables by the glass windows overlooking the upscale neighbourhood, and don’t leave until you absolutely must. Granth Book Store, 30/A, HM House, Juhu Tara Road, Opp Rotary Club, Santacruz (w), Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2660 9327
Option C – Juhu Shopping Centre
The one-stop shop for all your miscellaneous needs and desires, Juhu Shopping Centre is actually a row of different buildings spread out over 200 metres. Shops inside these old buildings span all genres between general store and bridal studio. If you need a gift for your four-year-old nephew, you’ll find a mini car with flashing lights and a Pokemon bonet. If you need a fancy saree blouse by next week, you’ll find a boutique where you will also pick up clothes for the other wedding functions. If you need a snack, you’ll find the jhaal muri uncle a few steps away from Quality Stores. Vaishali Shopping Center, Shop No. B-1, next to Sahakari Bhandar, Plot No.5, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049.
Option A – Jhaal Muri
At around 5 p.m. every evening, a man will set up his steel tins around him like a drum set and then play the same melodious tune throughout the evening, churning out packet after packet of Calcutta’s favourite snack. Jhaal muri, or spicy puffed rice, is a Bengali specialty rarely found outside of East India, and almost never found in its true form. The man slicing the chillies and raw mango may change every week, but the ratio of kala chana to aloo or the quantity of mustard oil never alters. Be warned though, this sniffle-inducing snack is not for the faint hearted.
Option B – Stalls outside Mithibai College
For a more substantial (and less fiery) snack, follow the college crowd to the food stalls opposite Mithibai College. On the “must try” list: Schezwan vada pav from Shivaji Vada Pav Stall, Andar Bahar cheese grill sandwich from Mithibai ka Famous Sandwich, and pizza dosa from Anand. Purists better sit this one out. North South Road Number 1, Suvarna Nagar, Vile Parle (w), Mumbai 400 056.
Option C – Aleph
Unlike other cafés where the staff drops subtle hints and serves not-so-subtle stares if you’ve been occupying a table for far too long, Aleph actually invites you to lounge on their mattresses for as long as you like. Coffee at this hipster café is a good idea for other reasons as well. One, they have a rooftop. Two, they have fairy lights. Three, they have a dog. They also have Madagascar vanilla coffee and six different types of tea. Aleph, 7-28/29 1st floor Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 099303 84641
Option D – Tea Villa Café
An open courtyard, green window shutters, and wall garden lend Tea Villa Café some fantastical charm. This could be the house of any one of the characters from the fairy tales our grandmothers told us when we were little; a character that drinks copious amounts of tea. Tea Villa Café offers over 70 different types of tea and has three pages dedicated to just chai. Brews from across the world are represented on the menu with Kashmiri Kahwa, Luang Ching Tea, and Japanese Sencha being some of the favourites. Tea Villa Café, 32, Juhu Church Road, Near Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 8080850000
Option A – Juhu Joggers Park
Juhu is dotted with small garden, jogging tracks, and play areas, but a particularly charming space is the Juhu Joggers Park. In the morning, you can see residents practicing yoga in the gazebo and hear the hearty guffaws of the local laughter club. In the afternoon, people lie down on the closely cut grass at the fringes and take a long snooze. In the evening, the park is a favourite for children and lovers who find solace in the jungle gym and on the benches respectively. Walkers, joggers, and runners can be found throughout the day, using the dedicated mud and paved tracks in the centre of the park. Joggers Park, Vaikunthlal Mehta Road, Ashok Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049.
Option B – Prithvi Theatre
A suburban mecca for lovers of arts in all its forms, Prithvi Theatre remains the preferred venue for a cultural night out in town. If you don’t get a ticket to one of the experimental or smaller productions on the main stage, you may be able to attend a film screening or a talk in the adjoining building. The tiny bookshop stocks some lesser-known titles on theatre, the front courtyard is always lit with strings of yellow bulbs, and the Irish Coffee at the café still maintains its untarnished reputation. Keep an eye out for familiar faces, both onscreen and off-screen. Prithvi Theatre, 20 Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2614 9546
Option C – Amrapali Jewels
From Diane Kruger in Troy to Deepika Padukone in Ram-Leela, many a famous figure have been adorned by Amrapali’s jewels. If you want to add your name to that list, head to the Jaipur-based jeweller’s Juhu store and spend some time admiring their intricate pieces. Funky, neon necklaces designed by Manish Arora, bracelets inspired by Turkish Kilms, and chunky, gleaming jewels from Hyderabad glitter on the glass shelves. Prices are clearly on the higher side, but here’s some perspective: Amrapali may be your only chance to own a Manish Arora design. Sold. Amrapali Jewels, Phoolwari Cottage, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2612 5001
Option D – Bhaidas Hall
Bhaidas Hall is a landmark in Juhu. This multipurpose auditorium hosts plays, music performances, school functions, college convocations, and even transforms into a wedding reception venue. All long-running Gujarati plays make repeated appearances at Bhaidas. You know it’s show day when you see cars outside the gate holding up traffic, and theatre patrons getting off from their vehicles straightening their jackets and smoothing their cotton sarees. Don’t forget to sample their famous samosas during the intermission. Bhaidas Hall, Gulmohar Road, Near Mithibai College, Vile Parle (w), Mumbai 400 056. Phone: 022 4219 9924
Option A – Gadda Da Vida
A drink at Novotel’s sea-facing bar is the best beginning to the end of an eventful day. Watch the sun dip into the Arabian Sea while sipping on a chilled beer or one of Gadda Da Vida’s signature cocktails. As the sun rays fade, the candles on each table come alive to cast shadows and create an atmosphere conducive to romance and intimate conversations. If you’re looking to earn some brownie points with your partner, Gadda Da Vida’s your place. Gadda Da Vida, Lobby level, Novotel, Balraj Sahani Marg, Juhu Beach, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6693 4444
Option B – Silver Beach Café
If (like the writer) you consider yourself too old for such shenanigans and real-time social media updates, make your way to a quaint restaurant in one of the JVPD back-lanes. With its French windows, leather seats, and dim lighting, Silver Beach Café is every first-date dream, but it’s also the perfect spot for a cosy catch-up with close friends over some wine and pasta. You can’t go wrong with the spinach and cream cheese ravioli or the roasted vegetable risotto. Silver Beach Café, Jaldarshan Building, Near Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 3996 7496
Option C – On Toes
On Toes is like a blast from the past. With its ’90s interiors and the club above playing retro music, it transports back to the early days of eating out. Staple starters such as hara bhara kababs and spring roll remain popular, but it’s the locha naan that has patrons licking their fingers. A thick naan stuffed with cheese, garlic, butter, and coriander, this dish can be spotted on almost every table in the restaurant. Apart from the standard Punjabi fare, On Toes also serves the most delicious dal khichdi with palak raita. All meals end with sauf and sugar. On Toes, No. 7 Mithila Shopping Centre, V Mehta Road, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6627 6464
Option D – Facing East
The only restaurant in the vicinity serving authentic South East Asian cuisine, Facing East is known for its extensive menu and generous portions. The dim sums here are soft, not doughy, and the lemon coriander soup is packed with subtle flavours that linger on even after dessert. The indoor and outdoor seating arrangement is authentic and intimate, with tables sometimes falling short of space to accommodate entire orders. Best to ask for a bigger table while reserving in advance. Facing East, JVPD Scheme, Opposite Lotus Eye Hospital, 13th Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2625 1199