I have been fortunate enough to witness two spectacular suburbs, Chembur and Bandra over the decades. Situated right opposite on the east-west end of Mumbai, both have unveiled themselves to me and rather uniquely.
Believe it or not, I kept seeing the sign of 'Chembur' behind cabs, auto rickshaws and ads as if the universe was leading me there. And little did I know that after 2.5 decades of life in Bandra, I would settle down in Chembur.
Locations become a part our personality, we speak from experience, interaction and local exposure. I have seen both Chembur and Bandra from close quarters. Here's how different and similar they are as habitats.
Similarities in Chembur and Bandra –
- Both the diametrically opposite suburbs were once remote villages. Chembur comprises of several villages such as Mahul, Ghatla, Wadavli, Gavanpada. Derived from the Marathi word 'Chimboree' aka Large Crab, Chembur quite literally holds its natives in its clutches of modernization and fast paced development. The British shortened it to 'Chembur' owing to linguistic limitations.
- Bandra on the other hand is a coastal locale. It has history of fishermen aka Koli and the farmer populous occupying its villages such as Shirley, Chimbai, Pali and Khar among others. The word 'Bandra' originates from Persian/Urdu language which aptly means port. The suburb was once under the Portuguese possession. They were instrumental in the promotion of Christianity and hence baptized several farmers and even encouraged the construction of Churches found till date.
The sweet and lingering smell of fish that emanates from the Khar Danda area reminds one of Bandra's roots. A handkerchief will come in handy.
Pro Tip #1 – To experience the best of Chembur, head to Chembur Camp. The place was once occupied by refugees during partition, and hence the name. Here you can indulge in sea food, meat and sweet specialties. Vig for Dal Pakwaan and Pattice Chole, Ranjeet Da Dhaba for lipsmacking finger food. Jhama for the best Dahi Wada and Gulab Jamun
Pro Tip #2 – Similarly in Bandra, you can head to Punjab Sweet House for the perfect serving of sweet & spicy Pani Puri along with hot samosa. Tharu for ghee based Sev ki Mithai and Elco to experience the best in fast-food.
- Chembur and Bandra both enjoy amazing connectivity and are known to be the centers of the city respectively. Chembur is connected to Bandra via Santacruz Chembur Link Road. The infrastructure opens the fastest route to the Western Expressway. The double-decker flyover is strategically created to shorten the distance and has opened several opportunities for work and other prospects.
- Chembur has recently witnessed huge transformations in road and rail connectivity. The suburb is well connected to the Thane district via the Eastern Express Highway. And enjoys quick commute to the Southern part of the city via the Eastern Freeway.
- Line 1 of Mumbai Monorail connects Wadala to Chembur and will soon be expanded till Jacob Circle aka Saat Raasta. This huge surge in road and rail development has put Chembur in the center. It is hence a largely preferred suburb among migrating natives and real estate investors
Many Software and Technology firms have chosen Chembur as their operating hub. As it enjoys seamless connectivity and attracts city wide talent to the workplace
Pro Tip # 3 – Enjoy the beauty and lush greenery at RCF Colony in Chembur which is located at Dr. C.G Road. The residential complex hosts the best garden spaces and sidewalks to provide a pleasing workout / outing
- Bandra connects Worli via the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, a cable engineered freeway over Mahim Bay which shortens the distance to Worli / Bandra to a mere 10 minute commute. The bridge provides a great view of the Arabian sea as well as a glimpse into the marvels of engineering.
- Bandra is well-connected to the eastern suburbs of Mumbai via SCLR and western suburbs & airport via the Western Expressway.
- Bandra Kurla Complex the center between the Western and the Eastern Expressway is seeing a huge surge in commercial as well as residential occupancy.
Bandra is an ever changing landscape. The place is always buzzing with new stores, new restaurants and new businesses. It is welcoming of several owners who cater to the diverse needs of the populous. Since the natives are experimental with an ability to spend, leading brands and businesses prefer Bandra over other suburban counterparts.
Pro-Tip # 4 – Bandra is a fashionista's local dream destination. Shop from the streets of Linking Road and Hill Road and fuse it with select top labels. You shall find the perfect wardrobe here.
A ride from Bandra to Chembur and vice versa will give you great perspective of the city. The two distant ends are the busiest localities with the best interconnected roads. The personality of posh changes to practical as you reach the other end. People are quite warm and accepting. It is a great racial mix coexisting in harmony.
Dissimilarities in Chembur and Bandra
- While both the suburbs are surrounded by the Arabian Waters, only Bandra enjoys the scenic view, while Chembur's sea view is covered by the BARC residential township at Anushakti Nagar
- Bandra is known for new and trendy restaurants and clothing brands. While Chembur is much conservative with local and medium shopping brands along with age old heritage restaurants serving even today.
- Chembur was once the destination for film shoots. The heritage property and base of RK Studios witnessed the shoot of numerous iconic films in its premises.
- Privately owned Khanna Bungalow was leased to several film producers who needed to shoot opulent indoor scenes.
- Bandra is much more appealing to film producers with the nearby Mehboob Studio which hosts films shoots, makeshift sets and promotional shoots alike.
- Unlike Bandra, Chembur does not have any 5 star Hotel or Luxury Property as yet. RK Studios may be replaced by one.
- AQI hugely differs with BKC having the worst air quality and Chembur mostly enjoying the cleanest air.
Fun Fact #Chembur – Raj Kapoor would love to visit Geeta Bhavan near Chembur Station to savour the sweetness of Sooji ka Halwa.
Fun Fact #Bandra – His great grandson Ranbir Kapoor's favourite hangout is Olive Bar and Kitchen in Bandra, Pali Hill
All in all, the two are amazing residential complexes with their individual strengths. The two suburbs are yet to fully explore their potential as far as commercial viability is concerned. Let us know your experience of either or both the stunning locales.