POINTS OF INTEREST
To get the flavor of a large, traditional Indian temple that's nevertheless jammed in the heart of a busy city, a visit to the Babulnath Temple is a must. And climbing the few hundred steps to reach the temple, perched on a hillside, will also reward you with a panorama of South Mumbai. The first Babulnath Temple was apparently built by Raja Bhimdev in the 13th century and named after the babul trees (a type of acacia native to India) that forested this area. The architecture of this imposing shrine, one of Mumbai's most important, isn't especially remarkable, but it's interesting to watch the melée of worshippers coming, going, and milling about. Outside are rows of flower sellers hawking a temple-visit kit—coconut plus flowers plus rock sugar—and a cluster of vendors concocting sweets in karhais (large woks) in the open air. Temple authorities are sometimes prickly about allowing foreigners into the innermost areas, but it's worth a try; more often than not they don't object. For Rs. 2 you can avoid the climb and take the elevator.