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Design Heat Maps: 12 High-Design Stops in Booming Mumbai

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Welcome to Design Heat Maps, wherein travel journalist Stirling Kelso—a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and the New York Times, among other outlets—breaks down that which an architecture and design junkie can't miss in can't-miss cities. For this month's column, she traveled to India with tour operator Micato Safaris and scoped out these 12 stops in the country's booming financial capital. Recommend Curbed's next destination by dropping us an email.

A city of more than 12 million people, the Indian megacity of Mumbai boasts cultural attractions commensurate with its size, and has recovered admirably from the terror attacks of 2008, which struck at some of the city's finest hotels. Today, the city formerly known as Bombay is home to the historic hotels, like the newly renovated Taj and Oberoi, and colonial remnants, like the former Victoria station, but it is also nurturing some innovative newcomers, including the blueFROG restaurant and music venue (above), art galleries, and stylish boutiques.

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1. Bombay Electric

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Ormiston Rd, Police Colony, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India
011-91-22/2287-6276
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An eccentric entrance garden—plants sprouting out of neon TVs—sets the tone for this avante garde boutique. Equally interesting finds include gem-inlaid sunglasses, antique British butter churners and dollhouse-sized porcelain cakes.

2. blueFROG

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D/2, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400013, India
+91 22 4033 2300
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Part restaurant and part music venue, this Serie architect-designed lounge is defined by its wave of futuristic dining pods, or cylindrical neon booths. Layers of rockwool, foam and bumped plasterboard wall paneling regulate sound behind the scenes.

3. Bungalow 8

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Grants Building, 1st, 2nd & 3rd floors, 17 Arthur Bunder Rd., Nr. Radio Club, Mumbai
400005, India
011-91-22/2281-9880
Visit Website

Gritty interior staircases connect this three-story Mecca of design and fashion, housing antiques, housewares and clothes. Hand selected items—a reversible sequined jacket, old-fashioned brass candleholders—are unpretentiously displayed in rooms with stripped floors and wood-beamed ceilings.

4. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

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Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Mumbai
Maharahstra 400001, India

Still known to many in Mumbai as Victoria Station, this 1887 High Victorian Gothic building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the busiest railway station in India. The original structure was constructed to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria; after India gained independence, her crowning statue was relocated to the Mumbai Zoo.

5. Terminal 2

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Western Express Hwy., Mumbai
Maharashtra 400099, India
+91 22 2681 3000
Visit Website

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) are the elite architecture firm behind Mumbai’s new (and much needed) airport terminal, scheduled to open at the end of 2013. The sleek glass and steel build, shaped like an X, will service over 40 million passengers a year. A proposed light rail will link the airport to downtown Mumbai, cutting down on the traffic-heavy commute.

6. Gallery Chemould

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G. Talwatkar Marg, Mumbai
India 400 001, India
011-91-22/2200-0211
Visit Website

Now surrounded by skyscrapers, this gallery and museum is housed in a century-old British colonial, a well-maintained example of Mumbai’s fading architectural heritage. Its exhibitions are equally revealing: Stop by before December 6 to see artist’s Pushpamala N. Avega’s staged photographs and videos, which recreate stories of power female gods.

7. Gateway of India

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Apollo Bandar, Off P J Ramchandani Marg, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400001, India

This 85-foot monument was completed in 1924 to honor the arrival of Queen Mary and King George V in 1911. On weekends, Mumbai’s eclectic crowds gather around the basalt stone archway to watch passenger boats sailing to and from Apollo Bunder, the city pier on which is stands.

8. Good Earth

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Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India
011-91-22/2495-1954
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While this whimsical shop sells beautiful silk dresses and block-print children’s clothes, it’s best known for its namesake tableware, including teacups and chargers painted with bright blue peacocks outlined in 24-karat gold.

9. Indigo

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Mandlik Rd, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India
011-91-22/6636-8981
Visit Website

Powdery yellow walls and a Shiva blue reflecting pool filled with orange marigolds create a serene backdrop for unhurried dinners. In cooler months, enjoy dishes such as Cochin oysters and prawns paired with smoky eggplant salsa on the lantern-dotted terrace.

10. The Oberoi, Mumbai

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Nariman Point, Mumbai
India 400021, India
+91 22 6632 5757
Visit Website

With real estate prices now at $2,500 a square foot, you’d be hard pressed to find an indoor atrium along Mumbai’s Marina Drive. So devoted guests were thrilled to see that the Oberoi kept its soaring 240-foot lobby through its two-year and $40 million renovation, completed in 2010. The resulting white marble space, dotted with red accents—including a stunning piano—is a visual and social focal point (it takes six full-time hires to keep the floors sparkling). The hotel also sacrificed 50 units to build more spacious guestrooms; of the 287 options, the nine Premiere Suites are the best value booking for separate living rooms, stand-alone bathtubs and maharaja-worthy Arabian Sea and skyline views.

11. Rajabai Clock Tower

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M.G Road, Mumbai
India 400 032, India
011-91-22/2654-3300

This tower may ring more than one bell: As Micato guide Hem Singh explains, a Gothic Revival architect modeled this 280-foot structure, now at the heart of the University of Mumbai, on Big Ben in London, though he worked with local kurla stone. The famous Parliament tower, on the other hand, is clad in limestone.

12. Taj Mumbai

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Apollo Bunder, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400001, India
+91 22 6665 3366
Visit Website

The Taj hotel’s original structure predates the Gateway of India, the harbor-front archway it faces. Celebrities and dignitaries have long been attracted to its blend of architectural styles—Moorish, Asian, Florentine—and the ornate façade made of up detailed stonework, red turrets and mosaic of bay windows. Next door, the 20-story tower, built in 1973, compliments the original architecture with arched windows and latticed balconies.

1. Bombay Electric

Ormiston Rd, Police Colony, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

An eccentric entrance garden—plants sprouting out of neon TVs—sets the tone for this avante garde boutique. Equally interesting finds include gem-inlaid sunglasses, antique British butter churners and dollhouse-sized porcelain cakes.

Ormiston Rd, Police Colony, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India

2. blueFROG

D/2, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013, India

Part restaurant and part music venue, this Serie architect-designed lounge is defined by its wave of futuristic dining pods, or cylindrical neon booths. Layers of rockwool, foam and bumped plasterboard wall paneling regulate sound behind the scenes.

D/2, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400013, India

3. Bungalow 8

Grants Building, 1st, 2nd & 3rd floors, 17 Arthur Bunder Rd., Nr. Radio Club, Mumbai, 400005, India

Gritty interior staircases connect this three-story Mecca of design and fashion, housing antiques, housewares and clothes. Hand selected items—a reversible sequined jacket, old-fashioned brass candleholders—are unpretentiously displayed in rooms with stripped floors and wood-beamed ceilings.

Grants Building, 1st, 2nd & 3rd floors, 17 Arthur Bunder Rd., Nr. Radio Club, Mumbai
400005, India

4. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Mumbai, Maharahstra 400001, India

Still known to many in Mumbai as Victoria Station, this 1887 High Victorian Gothic building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the busiest railway station in India. The original structure was constructed to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria; after India gained independence, her crowning statue was relocated to the Mumbai Zoo.

Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Mumbai
Maharahstra 400001, India

5. Terminal 2

Western Express Hwy., Mumbai, Maharashtra 400099, India

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) are the elite architecture firm behind Mumbai’s new (and much needed) airport terminal, scheduled to open at the end of 2013. The sleek glass and steel build, shaped like an X, will service over 40 million passengers a year. A proposed light rail will link the airport to downtown Mumbai, cutting down on the traffic-heavy commute.

Western Express Hwy., Mumbai
Maharashtra 400099, India

6. Gallery Chemould

G. Talwatkar Marg, Mumbai, India 400 001, India

Now surrounded by skyscrapers, this gallery and museum is housed in a century-old British colonial, a well-maintained example of Mumbai’s fading architectural heritage. Its exhibitions are equally revealing: Stop by before December 6 to see artist’s Pushpamala N. Avega’s staged photographs and videos, which recreate stories of power female gods.

G. Talwatkar Marg, Mumbai
India 400 001, India

7. Gateway of India

Apollo Bandar, Off P J Ramchandani Marg, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India

This 85-foot monument was completed in 1924 to honor the arrival of Queen Mary and King George V in 1911. On weekends, Mumbai’s eclectic crowds gather around the basalt stone archway to watch passenger boats sailing to and from Apollo Bunder, the city pier on which is stands.

Apollo Bandar, Off P J Ramchandani Marg, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400001, India

8. Good Earth

Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

While this whimsical shop sells beautiful silk dresses and block-print children’s clothes, it’s best known for its namesake tableware, including teacups and chargers painted with bright blue peacocks outlined in 24-karat gold.

Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India

9. Indigo

Mandlik Rd, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Powdery yellow walls and a Shiva blue reflecting pool filled with orange marigolds create a serene backdrop for unhurried dinners. In cooler months, enjoy dishes such as Cochin oysters and prawns paired with smoky eggplant salsa on the lantern-dotted terrace.

Mandlik Rd, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India

10. The Oberoi, Mumbai

Nariman Point, Mumbai, India 400021, India

With real estate prices now at $2,500 a square foot, you’d be hard pressed to find an indoor atrium along Mumbai’s Marina Drive. So devoted guests were thrilled to see that the Oberoi kept its soaring 240-foot lobby through its two-year and $40 million renovation, completed in 2010. The resulting white marble space, dotted with red accents—including a stunning piano—is a visual and social focal point (it takes six full-time hires to keep the floors sparkling). The hotel also sacrificed 50 units to build more spacious guestrooms; of the 287 options, the nine Premiere Suites are the best value booking for separate living rooms, stand-alone bathtubs and maharaja-worthy Arabian Sea and skyline views.

Nariman Point, Mumbai
India 400021, India

11. Rajabai Clock Tower

M.G Road, Mumbai, India 400 032, India

This tower may ring more than one bell: As Micato guide Hem Singh explains, a Gothic Revival architect modeled this 280-foot structure, now at the heart of the University of Mumbai, on Big Ben in London, though he worked with local kurla stone. The famous Parliament tower, on the other hand, is clad in limestone.

M.G Road, Mumbai
India 400 032, India

12. Taj Mumbai

Apollo Bunder, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India

The Taj hotel’s original structure predates the Gateway of India, the harbor-front archway it faces. Celebrities and dignitaries have long been attracted to its blend of architectural styles—Moorish, Asian, Florentine—and the ornate façade made of up detailed stonework, red turrets and mosaic of bay windows. Next door, the 20-story tower, built in 1973, compliments the original architecture with arched windows and latticed balconies.

Apollo Bunder, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400001, India