KNOWN as the “Queen’s Necklace” after the glittering string of streetlights lining the road, Marine Drive (renamed Netaji Subhash Chandra Road) sweeps along a sea-facing promenade which runs from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill. Built on land reclaimed from the sea in the 1920s, it is also the main arterial link between the suburbs and the city’s prime commercial and administrative centres, Nariman Point and the Fort area. Situated at its eastern periphery is the Oval Maidan, nursery of such modern-day Indian cricketing heroes as Sachin Tendulkar (b.1973) and Sunil Gavaskar (b.1949).The buildings of Marine Drive are characterized by a strong Art Deco flavour, popular in Mumbai during the 1930s and 1940s. With the advent of electric elevators, and with concrete replacing the earlier stone and brick, the apartment blocks on the seafront were built to a uniform height of five floors, making this the most fashionable residential area of the time.
The best way to enjoy Marine Drive during the day is from the upper floor of a red double-decker bus, which provides panoramic views of the sea and the city’s skyline. In the evening, it swarms with people taking their daily walks, couples meeting after work and families gathering around the vendors selling coconut water and bhelpur. Chowpatty Beach is the city’s most popular promenade and the southernmost of Mumbai beaches. Earlier cluttered with food stalls and hawkers, the area has now been substantially cleaned up in a drive by the civic authorities. An inexpensive evening destination for the city’s residents, it remains lively till late at night. It is also the venue for Mumhai’s largest festival, Ganesha Chaturthi when huge crowds gather at Chowpatty Beach to immerse images of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, in the Arabian Sea.
The National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), at the southern tip of Marine Drive, is the city’s most active venue for music, dance and theatre performances. Its Tata Theatre and Experimental Theatre stage works by international and Indian playwrights with the best of local talent, while India’s finest musicians and dancers perform regularly in its other auditoriums.