Fancy a carriage ride around town, with all the bells and whistles and zero equine cruelty? Then you are in luck. The victoria-style carriages are back on Mumbai roads, minus the horse but with the accompanying ‘neigh’ and ‘clip-clop’ of their hooves, for riders particular about such details.
There are 12 electric carriages in readiness, that look and feel similar to the victorias of yore, raring to take you on a heritage tour or a leisurely look-see, as early as next week. Their inauguration was originally scheduled for Sunday.
In the first stage, these will be launched in South Mumbai and cover the Gateway of India, Nariman Point, Flora Fountain, Kala Ghoda, Marine Drive and Girgaum Chowpatty. On the weekends, these battery-operated tongas will take you on heritage tours. Tourists can either opt for the shorter route priced at Rs 500 or the longer route at Rs 750, for booking an entire 6-seater tonga. Services will be operational from 4pm to 2am.
Group or individual bookings are possible, which will work out to around Rs 83-Rs 125 per person, depending on the distance. The short route covers, for instance, a ride starting from the end of Marine Drive at Nariman Point to Mantralaya, taking a roundabout and going back to Nariman Point via Air-India building. The longer route will drive one all the way from Nariman Point, Marine Drive, Flora Fountain, Kala Ghoda and with a drop at the Gateway of India.
“We are also running a trial with bells below the carriage, to give it the feel of an actual victoria. Also under consideration is a plan to run them in other parts of Mumbai like the SGNP, Five Gardens, Bandra Bandstand, Juhu and in Navi Mumbai. Plus, we will also tie up with five-star hotels,” said the founder and CEO of UBO, Ketan Kadam.
In view of the traffic, the time limit for a single journey is yet to be decided. There will be six tongas each, starting from Nariman Point and the Gateway of India. Once fully charged, (6-7 hours), the tonga is good for a 70-80 km run, attaining a maximum speed of 20 kmph.
Heritage tours will happen on weekends, costing Rs 500-650, wherein the victoria will halt outside the heritage structure. An in-built speaker will provide details about the structure in six languages. On a regular ride, people can play music on these speakers via Bluetooth.
The Anil Parab-led transport department has given permission for 120 such electric carriages across the state. Of these, 40-45 will run in Mumbai alone by December. Sources said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been approached to inaugurate these tongas, which ais likely to happen in the coming week.