Mumbai is one of the world’s major cities, located on India’s west coast. Before the Portuguese and then the British captured Mumbai, it was a collection of tiny settlements dispersed over many islands. The islands were separated by streams and rivers, which were filled up. Mumbai is now the financial and entertainment capital of India, attracting visitors from all across the nation.
At first sight, Mumbai appears to be a tangle of mad traffic, frenzied noise, and people. It sprawls out from its colonial core to regimented residential housing blocks, ever-growing as individuals come to earn their fortune.
Spend some time here and you’ll discover a proud metropolis with residents eager to show you around, from entrepreneurial ladies in the Dharavi slum to hotels giving some of Asia’s most luxury experiences.
Mumbai is India’s biggest port, economic and industrial hub, as well as the country’s fashion capital and the epicenter of Bollywood (India’s flourishing film industry). Mumbai, a melting pot of cultures from all across India, encapsulates a little bit of each of the country’s various traditions in one place. Bollywood, India’s burgeoning film industry, is centered in Mumbai.
To go to Elephanta Island, you’ll need to take a boat.
From the ferry dock at the Gateway of India, the faint line of Elephanta Island can just be seen through the mist. The island was originally named Gharapuri, which means “city of caves” in Hindi, but the Portuguese renamed it after a long-since-demolished elephant sculpture. Some of India’s most stunning temple sculptures may be seen in the maze of cave temples at the island’s core.
Elephanta Island, with its maze of ancient caverns and temples carved into the basalt rock, is located in the center of Mumbai Harbour. You may walk or ride a small train to the caverns, which were hewn from solid basalt rock and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, after you get on the island.
The island’s history is unknown, although scholars believe that the caverns originate from the 7th century. The majority of them are dedicated to Lord Shiva and are ornately carved with crisply cut columns.
Hotel Taj Mahal Palace
Since 1903, Maharajas, nobles, and celebrities have been entertained at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai’s first waterfront icon. Visiting for high tea is one opportunity to sample the hotel’s century-old hospitality. High tea is typically served in the sea lounge around sunset, with views of the Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea beyond.
High tea is typically served in the sea lounge around sunset, with views of the Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea beyond.
Mumbai, dubbed the “City of Dreams,” sees millions of immigrants arriving each year in quest of a brighter future. The resultant productive chaos is best observed in the early hours of the morning, when the thousands of tiny companies that keep Mumbai afloat get to work. You may travel behind the scenes to observe how the city works with the help of a local guide.
The trip includes stops to a newspaper sorting plant, where millions of newspapers are sorted into seven languages before being delivered across the city, as well as a neighboring marketplace, which gets over 100 tonnes (220,462 lb) of fresh food everyday.
Another destination is one of the world’s largest flower marketplaces, where workers weave garlands as a noisy auction of 20 tonnes (44,092 lb) of fish takes place nearby in Sasoon Docks. Before many people have eaten breakfast, the bustle of action is finished and washed away.
Mumbai’s Worli Fishing Village
Worli is the center of Mumbai, which is constructed on a seven-island archipelago. The original fishermen of the city landed here, and the fishing hamlet has maintained its history and culture while the modern metropolis has grown up around it. The tiny and twisting alleyways were constructed that way to confound pirates, so you’ll definitely need a guide while you wander about.
You may observe the fishermen’s traditional skills, which haven’t changed in hundreds of years, and the ladies arguing pricing if you visit during the morning catch. It’s possible to see virtually the whole length of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link roadway, an engineering wonder crossing Mumbai’s coastline, from the British-built Worli Fort.
Mumbai’s Dharavi Slum
Dharavi is a slum in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, that is regarded one of the biggest in Asia. Dharavi covers little over 2.1 square kilometers and has a population of over 1,000,000 people. Dharavi is one of the world’s most densely inhabited regions, with a population density of approximately 277,136 people per square kilometer.
When flying into Mumbai, the magnitude of Asia’s largest slum can only be appreciated by gazing out the window. More than a million people live in this maze of tiny streets. It can be filthy (open sewers are common), unclean, and overpowering at times, but a tour of the slum provides insight into one of the most industrious and resourceful societies in the world, who live and work here with remarkable good humour.
From potteries and soap manufacturers to recycling and needlework companies, the slum is home to a dizzying assortment of tiny businesses. The tours are conducted by a non-profit organization that distributes the bulk of its profits to local organizations and guarantees that the trip is culturally respectful – snapping pictures is discouraged.
Indian Film Business (Bollywood)
The Bollywood film industry, which produces over 1000 films each year, more than twice as many as Hollywood, is an essential element of Mumbai’s culture. Sankraman and Balaji, two of the most well-known studios, welcome tourists to observe the workings of the business. You could watch movies being filmed on set or get a glimpse into the beautiful make-up department, depending on the production schedule.
You’ll see how visual effects are applied and dramatic soundtracks are produced and dubbed in in a post-production studio. In the purpose-built dance studio, you can witness performers re-create some iconic Bollywood dance routines and even a few stunts.
Reasons to visit during Mumbai festivals and events
Every year in February, the Elephanta Festival is held in front of the Gateway of India, and is named after Mumbai’s Elephanta Caves. It’s an event that celebrates Indian classical music, dance, and traditional crafts. The Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, which commemorates the elephant-headed deity Ganesh’s birthday, takes place in late August or early September. Clay sculptures of Ganesh are sculpted and then worshipped for ten days, with numerous festivities. The sculptures are taken by an ecstatic procession to a local lake or river on the eleventh day, where they are submerged in the water.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is a railway station in Mumbai, India (CST). Even if you’re not taking a train, I always recommend visiting the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) because it’s such an important aspect of the city’s life. It fascinates me that so many individuals start their trip in Mumbai. Its mix of Victorian gothic and Indian architecture, formerly known as Victoria Terminus (VT), exemplifies British influence. Every day, throngs of commuters rush through the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), bumping into bleary-eyed sleeper train passengers, some of whom are visiting ‘the City of Dreams’ for the first time.
The Gateway of India is a 19th-century arch-monument in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It was built to honor King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary’s visit to India, which took place in December 1911 at Wellington Pier in Mumbai. For people coming by water, the Gateway of India was historically the first taste of Mumbai.
The Taj Mahal Palace is directly across the lake from the great symbolic entrance. You can escape the chaos below while enjoying century-old hospitality from the Taj. If you come for afternoon tea, you’ll be given fresh cup of tea at a table filled with scones, pastries, and pakoras (crispy battered vegetables). Take a boat from the entrance to Elephanta Island, a mysterious site where the function of the elephant sculptures and temples has long been forgotten.
Colaba, a bustling part of ancient Mumbai, features a coastal promenade that starts with the Gateway of India, a towering basalt arch constructed in the 1920s. The promenade passes high-end fashion stores and the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which is famous for its colonial seaside tea salon.
Nearby, the Colaba Causeway is dotted with vintage cafés, trendy eateries, and outdoor merchants offering homemade goods. The southern peninsula, one of Mumbai’s most popular tourist destinations, is a tangle of decade-old cafés, contemporary eateries, and budget motels. The Colaba Causeway, called “fashion street” by locals, passes through the district’s center. It is well-known for selling knockoffs of well-known brands of apparel. You may try negotiating with the persuasion shop owners as you stroll along the street.
Chowpatty Beach and Marine Drive
At night, take a stroll along Marine Drive. The lights snaking down the drive resemble pearls from above, earning it the moniker “queen’s necklace.” You may easily mix in with passers-by and feel somewhat incognito here.
Chowpatty Beach is one of Mumbai’s most well-known beaches. It’s a popular hangout for courting couples, families, political gatherings, and anybody looking for a breath of fresh air. The magnificent sunsets from this beach are a sight to see. In the evenings, families gather on the Chowpatty Beach to eat snacks, samosas, or lassi, a yoghurt drink.