Hugging a peninsula to the south of Mumbai’s city centre, Colaba is a vibrant district with a rich colonial history. It’s packed with landmark architecture, iconic eateries and upmarket shopping destinations, making it one of Mumbai’s most impressive tourist destinations.
Colaba is famously home to the Gateway of India monument which overlooks the Arabian Sea. It was built in an Indo-Saracenic style to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder in the early 20th century. Opposite stands the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace hotel, a heritage-listed icon and the flagship property of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. A short walk away is the Regal Cinema, a distinct Art Deco theatre built during the 1930s cinema boom, together with the National Gallery Of Modern Art. To the south lies the historic Sassoon Docks, one of the oldest in Mumbai and today home to an atmospheric fish market, while to the north is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. It was inspired by Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways. Historic cafes and restaurants such as Cafe Mondegar and Cafe Leopold stand alongside modern pubs and clubs in Colaba’s streets, giving the district a lively atmosphere. In addition to its tourist sights, Colaba’s southern tip is home to a military cantonment built on reclaimed land, together with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), one of the country’s leading scientific institutions.
The Colaba Causeway, or Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, bisects the promontory and is the main commercial artery through the district. Trains stop at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Churchgate stations, while public buses and rickshaws access Colaba’s southern end.
The name Colaba originates from the word Kolabhat, used by the indigenous Kolis people before European arrival. It originated as two separate islands, Colaba and Little Colab, and was known during 16th century Portuguese rule as Candil. The islands were gifted to England as a dowry when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza in 1662, and the Colaba Causeway was completed in 1838 to join the islands together.