Last month, we followed the lead-up to the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, which saw 14 countries trading culture to create international mash-up parties simultaneously around the world. Along the way, we headed to Thailand and India, to explore the unique culture of each country and document what we found.
The second stop on the trip was Mumbai, India, a city marked by non-stop activity, rich cultural heritage, diverse nightlife, and, of course, a striking divide between the rich and the poor. We were in town during the second anniversary of the 2008 terror attacks in the city, which added gravity to the visit, but the resilience of its residents was both striking and inspiring.
In addition to wandering through colorful, bustling marketplaces, traveling to a cavernous shrine on an island populated by monkeys, and sampling delicious, eclectic cuisine, we were also able to experience some of Mumbai’s most exotic nightlife spots. From the rooftop bar Aer, located at the top of the Four Seasons Hotel, to Blue Frog, which hosted a two-day music festival curated by Talvin Singh, the city offered an endless array of ways to throw down, Indian style. It was the perfect set-up for the final stop of the trip — Bangalore, India, for the Indian Nightlife Exchange party itself.
If you missed the photos from our Bangkok Travel Diary, check out the previous installment now.
Click through below for an exclusive image gallery exploring Mumbai, India.
Cows are as a common a sight on Mumbai streets as horses are in NYC.
It’s impossible to walk the streets of Mumbai without being asked to buy something or just give handouts, but some people are more creative than others. This duo grabbed attention through both its tribal garb and by loudly cracking whips while walking down the street.
It’s almost impossible to resist purchasing trinkets in the city, as the prices are unbelievably low, the goods are actually appealing, and it’s obvious the hawkers are struggling with extreme poverty.
Looking out over the water from the edge of the city.
Students hold up banners celebrating solidarity and resolve on the second anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks that took place on November 26, 2008.
The banners stretched along the length of the wall. After they were displayed, the students took part in a parade to commemorate the event. Tributes and memorials were held throughout the city through the course of the day.
Part of a memorial to the victims of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
A quote from Gandhi, “Peace is the most powerful weapon of mankind,” pays tribute to those lost in the attacks.
Police and soldiers stand by an armored tank on November 26, 2010.
Shopping for spices at Crawford Market in Mumbai.
Fruit vendors erect colorful displays in the marketplace.
Most likely the only edition of Time Out you’ll ever see with an article on “How to Buy a Goat.”
A mixology session with Smirnoff ambassador Kenji Jesse, incorporating local fruits and spices from the market.
McDonald’s in India is much more vegetarian-friendly than elsewhere. Most notably, you won’t find any hamburgers on the menu.
One of the most staggering aspects of Mumbai remains the cultural divides. While the city now claims the first billion-dollar home, the outskirts are still overrun by slums, and children live homeless in the streets.
Students play cricket in a welcome expanse of park amid the tumult of the city.
A 40-minute boat ride outside of Mumbai takes you to Elephanta Caves, the home of an ancient shrine to Shiva.
The entrance leading up to Elephanta Caves.
Some caves on the island remain empty, as the rock turned out to be too soft to construct anything inside.
Scenes that circle the shrine tell the story of Shiva, one of the three deities in the “Hindu Triad.” Unfortunately, many of them were partially destroyed by Portuguese invaders, who used the constructions for target practice.
This sculpture of the three Hindu deities Brahma, Krishna, and Vishnu, is the only one in the temple to survive fully intact, as it was hidden behind a wall when the Portuguese arrived.
The island is also heavily populated by monkeys. They are known to run right up to you and steal things out of your hand… which did happen right in front of us! Seriously, don’t tease them.
A monkey surveys its territory near the Elephanta Caves.
This standoff between a man eating his lunch and hungry monkey ended with the monkey getting splashed with water and running off to find another victim.