Mumbai, Through a Photographer's Eye
If you’ve opened a design magazine in the past ten years, you’ve spotted photographer Björn Wallander’s mesmerizing work. Over the last decade, Björn has contributed to publications including Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Harper's Bazaar, WSJ Magazine, Vogue Brazil, Casa Vogue, Man Of The World, Departures, Veranda, Martha Stewart, Oprah, House Beautiful, New York Magazine, Flaunt, Dwell, and Real Simple. He has also shot for Ralph Lauren, American Express, Tribeca Film Festival, Thompson Hotels, Infiniti and Pottery Barn.
When he isn’t home in New York or traveling to shoot interiors and portraits, he can often be found returning to one of his favorite places: Mumbai. We asked him for tips on savoring the city known as The Gateway of India.
Bjorn… in a few words
Photographer, traveler, sailer, animal lover.
Mumbai… in a few words
A modern city in India. Feels a bit like a mix of the west and India to me.
Go for a long run to Marine Drive and then follow to the end of the road and turn back. It’s the most beautiful place to see the sunrise along the water. So many people are out watching the sun come up, exercising, doing yoga and meditating. The energy is great. Then shower and have breakfast at Abode Hotel.
The Pantry in Colaba.
If it’s your first stay in Mumbai, Taj Hotel is iconic and in a great location. If you want to go low key, Abode Hotel in Colaba is great. Oberoi is a little further away but has wonderful service. If you don’t stay at the Taj, going for high tea at Sea Lounge with the view is wonderful.
My favorite is actually a clothing store where the atelier is in the back and you can see them make the clothes. It’s called Obataimu and they have a small, very well curated selection of books. I always stop in to have a look. The clothes are also really great.
Hard to choose one place. Crawford Market and around the opera house. All the markets are for specific things, like silver, copper, and fabrics. They’re each in their own area but pretty close to each other.
I like chilled nights with drinks at Woodside Inn or Miss T and going to small private parties. People in Mumbai are very good at throwing parties. If you are lucky, you’ll get invited to the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.
Alibag, a boat ride away on the mainland. It’s like landing in the tropics just 30 minutes away and has a beautiful beach community.
I think at this point its pretty know by many tourists too, but Britannia & Co is a special place. It’s still run by the owner who is I believe 97 and the nicest gentleman.
I feel to connect with the culture, it’s nice to be up early to see the action in the morning. I would try to hit the spice markets and flower markets. It’s beautiful, crazy action, and the best fresh flowers.
Also, try to get tickets to a cricket match.
I wouldn’t recommend real street food if you are visiting, unless you are with someone local that knows when and where to go. There are many great small old school restaurants but you should still go with a local that knows where it’s safe to eat.
For vegetarian thalis, a place called Chetana in Kala Ghoda Square. Old school and great.
My Leica M10 camera and Yerba Mate.
In general I love local fabrics, jewelry and clothes. I look for handmade traditional leather slippers and Chikan kurtas, loose collarless shirts with a traditional embroidery style from the region of Lucknow. There are a few shops for Chikan embroidery across from The Royal Opera House, including a really good secret one on the second floor, which I can hardly ever find.
Try to get in the rhythm of the local people and do things the local way.