MUMBAI- For The Disabled?

Is Mumbai for the Disabled? Find out with Virali Modi

Hello Mumbai!

Hello Mumbai!

Mumbai is known as the city of dreams, and rightly so. It’s laced with superstars all across the city – Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and Rekha – to name a few. People come here aspiring to become a part of the film fraternity or to simply live their dreams. But for a disabled woman traveling to Mumbai for the first time, was Mumbai for the disabled? Yes and no.

When I first arrived in Mumbai in 2008, I quickly understood why Mumbai was called “The City of Dreams”. It had a certain charm about itself and it reminded me of New York City, where I’ve travelled to frequently. I’m a paraplegic and I decided to come to Mumbai for alternate treatment for my paraplegia. Upon landing in Mumbai, I was excited for a new adventure, but that was short lived.

Getting About in Mumbai

Mumbai was definitely not for the disabled at that time. The roads were treacherous. I had an incredibly difficult time pushing myself so my mother had to take over, and despite being an able-bodied woman, she was having a difficult time too. Thankfully, people around were extremely helpful in that aspect. I also realized that most buildings had no lifts, whether that be public buildings or government buildings, I would either have to be carried up flights of stairs or I would have to stay in our rented flat. That still holds true to this day, but there have been significant improvements in terms of lifts in buildings.

Visiting Gateway of India

As a first timer in Mumbai, I decided to do all of the touristy things. I visited Gateway of India, Siddhivinayak Temple, Marine Drive, and of course the famous beaches – Juhu, Chowpatty, and Aksa. Let me say this, Gateway of India is totally wheelchair accessible, and that was a breath of fresh air. I was able to wheel myself up to the actual Gateway and look out into the ocean. The only problem that I face now, in 2017, is that they’ve set up many barricades for better traffic control. So in order to access Gateway, I need to take a less accessible route to reach it, which is certainly a hassle.

Marine Drive – The City Skyline

If you like looking out into the ocean, smelling the salty air, and munching on some peanuts while enjoying the view, Marine Drive is especially for you. It’s a 3.6-kilometer long boulevard that overlooks the ocean, and it is wheelchair-accessible. However, there is a kerb which you need to get onto, but other than that, it is wheelchair-accessible.

Marine lines is beautiful and I'm glad it is accessible!

Marine lines is beautiful and I’m glad it is accessible!

Blessed at Siddhivinayak Temple

Siddhivinayak Temple, the home of everyone’s favourite God, Ganpatibappa, is a sacred temple honouring Ganeshji. Its intricate details, the gold decor, and the beautiful shrine is definitely a must see. Fortunately, Siddhivinayak Temple is wheelchair-accessible. There is a specific line for those who are disabled, and it leads you right up to the shrine in no time.

Juhu Beach – A Starry Visit

As for the beaches, none of them are accessible. Juhu beach is one of the most famous beaches in Mumbai. Known for its amazing variety of street foods, Juhu beach is also well known as it basks in the deflected glory of Bollywood’s biggest film stars who live in the neighbourhood. At the beach, there is a basic concretised area near the food stalls, but there’s a kerb you need to cross to get onto the concrete, and you can only go so far. If you want to see the actual beach, you’ll need to cross an array of stairs or you may need to go out onto the sand, which is incredibly difficult for wheelchair users.

Aksa Beach – For Some Quiet

Aksa beach is just known for the name. There really isn’t much to do there, except look at the water. Again, it isn’t accessible, but it is less crowded. If you have the upper body strength to push yourself in the sand, hats off to you. It may be worth checking out once. Just don’t go into the water, there’s almost always a riptide there.

Chowpatty Beach – Street Eats & Treats

Chowpatty is one of the most “accessible” beaches in Mumbai. If you want to go to the food stalls, there’s a small ramp that needs to be crossed, and everything after that is tightly packed sand/concrete, which makes it really easy to manoeuvre a wheelchair. Going to the beach itself is another story altogether. It isn’t accessible, but if you’re at the food stalls, you can look at the water and watch the waves. Because come on, food is the best part about the beaches in Mumbai, at least in my opinion.

Listening to the waves, watching the sunset & eating some mouth-watering street food; nothing can get better than this!

Listening to the waves, watching the sunset & eating some mouth-watering street food; nothing can get better than this!

The Verdict?

Mumbai is truly beautiful and worth coming to for a vacation. Some places are wheelchair-accessible, but if you specifically want to go to a restaurant or to a certain place, it’s best to call them beforehand to make sure they are able to accommodate your needs. Thanks to The Disability Rights Bill that was passed in late 2016, Mumbai is slowly but surely becoming as accessible as possible. Most buildings have lifts and some of the roads are smooth enough to push a wheelchair on. But it’s always better to have someone accompany you, even if you are independent. Welcome to Aamchi Mumbai!

This was Virali Modi’s experience in the City of Dreams. To make these experiences yours, book a holiday with Enable Travel.

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Virali Modi

I’m a motivational speaker, writer, model, aspiring actress, and a disability rights advocate with a witty personality and an undying love for elephants. I also forgot to mention, I’m disabled, like that really matters.

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