24 Dec Mumbai – Gateway of India
Welcome to Mumbai
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is Maharashtra State’s capital; it is the city of dreams that fulfils the imaginations of millions, a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. The city’s uniqueness is unfathomable, from crowded train platforms to the renowned Dabbawalas, multi-millionaires to suburban slums, the heartbeat of the Bollywood film industry, including being home to India’s cricket, and iconic street foods of vada pav, sev puri, and bhel puri.
Your first impressions of Mumbai will be the cacophony of sounds, smells, and sights that will engulf your senses. The city blends old and new, with towering skyscrapers, colonial-era buildings, and bustling bazaars coexisting seamlessly, combined with strong historical links, museums, beaches, British architecture, places of worship, and many tourist landmarks. It is also famously home to Bollywood and India’s largest film industry.
Interestingly, Mumbai is known as India’s wealthiest city, with a diversity that encapsulates half of its residents in slums. A 15-minute metro journey will get you from one of the world’s largest and most populous slums to the most expensive house, a 27-storey monster with a price tag of more than $1 billion. South Mumbai, which has some of the most significant colonial-era structures and an equally stunning Art Deco legacy, is a popular destination for visitors.
One of the incredible things that struck me about Mumbai was the extraordinary diversity of its people. People from all over India, and even the world, come to Mumbai to seek their fortunes, making it a melting pot of cultures.
How To Get There
By Air: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) is one of the busiest airports in India, connected to major cities across the globe.
By Train: Mumbai is well connected to major cities in India by train, where several trains operate between Mumbai and other major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. Mumbai has two major railway stations, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Mumbai Central.
By Bus: Similarly, Mumbai is well connected to major cities in India by bus. Several private and government-run buses operate between Mumbai and other major cities in India. Taking a bus is a convenient option if you come from nearby cities like Pune, Nashik, or Aurangabad.
By Car: Driving to Mumbai can be a good option if you come from nearby cities like Pune, Nashik, or Aurangabad, but the national highways connect significantly with many towns. However, driving in Mumbai can be challenging due to heavy traffic and narrow roads, so we recommend hiring a driver or taking a taxi.
Places Of Interest
The caves are located on Elephanta Island (Gharapuri). It features two hillocks separated by a narrow valley, constructed in the mid-5th to 6th century A.D. This great cave represents different aspects of Shiva consisting of ancient rock-cut temples known for their intricate carvings and sculptures. Book tickets here.
A UNESCO World Heritage site built in 1887, originally known as Victoria Terminus, named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It was then renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The station is known for its Victorian Gothic Revival and traditional Indian styles and is one of India’s busiest railway stations. Book tour here.
If you’re interested in visiting Bollywood in Mumbai, you can consider visiting Film City, taking a Bollywood tour, visiting the Red Carpet Wax Museum, attending a film screening, or attending a Bollywood event. These options can give you a glimpse into the world of Bollywood and its history and culture.
Taking a Bollywood tour to the heart of the action is possible, but don’t be alarmed if you approached as an extra! It’s very exciting but expects long hours of waiting while watching what goes on!
Film City: Located in Goregaon, Film City gives you an insight into their sets, studios, and locations where Bollywood movies and T.V. shows are filmed. Take a guided tour of the Bollywood studios and learn about the history of Bollywood.
Bollywood Tours: Several tour operators in Mumbai offer Bollywood tours, typically including visits to film studios, the homes of Bollywood stars, and the chance to watch a live film shoot. These tours can be customized to your interests and preferences.
Red Carpet Wax Museum: Located in Ghatkopar, the Red Carpet Wax Museum features wax figures of Bollywood stars and other famous personalities worldwide.
Film screenings: Mumbai has numerous theatres and cinemas where you can watch Bollywood movies. Some popular ones include the iconic Regal Cinema in Colaba, the PVR chain of theatres, and the Eros Cinema in Churchgate.
Attend a Bollywood event: Mumbai hosts several events throughout the year, including film premieres, award ceremonies, and music launches. If you’re lucky, you can attend one of these events and experience the glamour and glitz of Bollywood up close.
Mumbai is a bustling city with a vibrant shopping scene. There are various shopping options in Mumbai, ranging from high-end luxury malls to street markets that offer unique local items at affordable prices. With Mumbai’s diverse culture and rich heritage, its traditional Indian clothes are integral. So, if you’re looking to buy formal Indian dresses in Mumbai, you will find many options.
This is one of Mumbai’s most popular shopping destinations. It’s a bustling street market that offers a wide range of items, including traditional indian clothes, accessories, jewellery, and home decor.
Chor Bazaar is the place to go if you’re looking for antiques, vintage items, old Bollywood posters, to junk and traditional Indian clothes selling many conventional Indian garments like sarees, It is a bustling flea market that sells everything. The market is a microcosm of Mumbai’s diversity, with vendors haggling in different languages and buyers from all walks of life browsing through the wares. Book tour here.
A famous market for jewellery shopping, including a wide range of traditional Indian clothes like sarees, lehengas, and salwar kameez. If you’re looking for gold, silver, or diamond jewellery, Zaveri Bazaar is one of Mumbai’s oldest and largest jewellery markets.
If you are in Bandra, head to Linking Road, where you will find a wide range of clothes, accessories, and other items at affordable prices as the famous street market or Hill Road, another popular shopping destination in Bandra, known for its trendy clothes and accessories at affordable prices. High Street Phoenix is an upscale mall in Lower Parel and is home to a wide range of high-end fashion brands, restaurants, cafes, and a multiplex cinema. In the suburb of Kurla, head to Phoenix Marketcity, one of the most prominent shopping destinations in Mumbai, with a wide range of international and domestic brands, restaurants, cafes, and a multiplex cinema. While Fashion Street, located near Churchgate station, is a famous street market offering a wide range of clothes, shoes, and accessories at affordable prices. Dadar West is a bustling shopping area in Mumbai and a great place to buy traditional Indian garments.
A dhobi ghat in Mumbai is where clothes are washed, dried, and ironed by a community of washermen known as dhobis. Visiting a dhobi ghat in Mumbai can be a unique and fascinating experience.
As you enter the dhobi ghat, you will be greeted by a flurry of activity, with dhobis scrubbing, washing, and beating clothes on large concrete washing stones, known as flogging stones. The sound of clothes slapping against the washing stones is constant and rhythmic, creating a unique audio experience. The dhobis work in rows, each caring for a specific ghat area. You’ll see hundreds of brightly coloured clothes hanging on lines to dry in the sun, creating a stunning visual spectacle. The smell of soap and detergent is overpowering, and the air is thick with steam and humidity.
You may also notice a group of workers ironing clothes with oversized, coal-powered irons. The irons are heated by burning coal, and the workers use them to press clothes until they are wrinkle-free and crisp.
Despite the busy atmosphere, the dhobi ghat is surprisingly organized, with a system to ensure that each washerman receives the correct clothes for washing and drying. It’s a unique sight, and spending hours watching the dhobis at work is easy.
Overall, visiting a dhobi ghat in Mumbai can be an unforgettable experience, allowing you to witness firsthand the hard work and dedication of the city’s washermen.
A Dharavi Slum Tour is a unique experience that gives you a glimpse into the lives of people who live in one of the largest slums in Asia. The tour includes a guided walk through the narrow alleys and a visit to local workshops and markets.
Visiting a slum in Mumbai can be controversial and sensitive, raising questions about ethics and responsible tourism. However, if you do decide to visit a slum in Mumbai, here are some things to keep in mind:
Choose a responsible tour operator: Several tour operators in Mumbai offer slum tours, but choosing one that is ethical and responsible is essential. Look for a tour operator that works with the local community, supports sustainable development projects, and provides fair wages to tour guides. See links below.
Be respectful: If you do visit a slum, be respectful of the people who live there. Avoid taking photos without permission, and do not treat the residents as objects of curiosity or entertainment.
Consider your visit’s impact: Consider your visit’s impact on the local community. Some people argue that slum tourism can be exploitative and reinforces negative stereotypes, while others say that it can raise awareness and support for development projects.
Donate to local organizations: If you do decide to visit a slum, consider donating to local organizations that support the community. This can help to support sustainable development and improve living conditions for residents.
In summary, if you decide to visit a slum in Mumbai, it’s essential to do so with respect, mindfulness, and responsibility. Choosing a responsible tour operator, being respectful to the residents, considering the impact of your visit, and donating to local organizations are some ways to approach this complex and sensitive issue.
Where To Stay
Areas of Mumbai
Colaba: Located in South Mumbai, Colaba is a bustling area with plenty of mid-range hotels, guesthouses, and serviced apartments. The area is popular with tourists and offers easy access to attractions like the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, and the Colaba Causeway market.
Bandra: In the western suburbs, Bandra is a trendy area with plenty of mid-range hotels and guesthouses. The area is known for its vibrant nightlife, shopping, and dining scene and is a popular destination for locals and tourists.
Juhu: Located in the western suburbs, Juhu is a popular beachside area with plenty of mid-range hotels and guesthouses known for its relaxed vibe and scenic views of the Arabian Sea.
Andheri: Located in the northern suburbs, Andheri is a bustling commercial area with plenty of mid-range hotels and guesthouses, well-connected to the rest of the city.
Dadar: Located in central Mumbai, Dadar is a busy area with plenty of mid-range hotels and guesthouses. The site is well-connected to other parts of the city and is known for its street food, shopping, and cultural attractions, like Shivaji Park and the Siddhivinayak Temple.
In the Khar West suburb, Hotel Bawa Suites offers modern rooms with all the necessary amenities. It is well-known for business and leisure travellers due to its convenient location.
Located in Colaba, Hotel City Palace is a budget-friendly option with comfortable rooms and easy access to popular tourist attractions like the Gateway of India and Marine Drive.
Situated in the city’s heart, The Oberoi Mumbai offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea and skyline. The hotel’s spacious rooms and suites are decorated in a contemporary style and feature modern amenities.
Hotel Suba International Mumbai is a stylish and contemporary hotel located in the heart of Mumbai’s bustling business district. With luxurious rooms and suites, exceptional dining options, and state-of-the-art facilities.
Where To Eat
No visit to Mumbai would be complete without trying its street food. We sampled everything from vada pav to pav bhaji, and the flavours and aromas were out of this world. Mumbai’s street food reflects its diverse cultures and delicious cuisine, including street food like vada pav, bhel puri, and pav bhaji, as well as regional delicacies across India.
Gajalee: A seafood restaurant with multiple locations throughout Mumbai, Gajalee is known for its fresh and delicious seafood dishes.
Cafe Madras: Located in the Matunga area, Cafe Madras is a popular restaurant that serves authentic South Indian cuisine, including dosas, idlis, and vadas.
Trishna: Another popular seafood restaurant, Trishna, is located in the Fort area and is known for its delicious crab dishes.
Shiv Sagar: A vegetarian restaurant with multiple locations throughout Mumbai, Shiv Sagar is known for its thalis and other vegetarian dishes.
Delicacies To Try
Here are some popular dishes to try when in Mumbai:
Vada Pav: Mumbai’s version of a burger, consisting of a potato cake served in a bun with chutney and spices.
Pav Bhaji: A popular street food, Pav Bhaji is a spicy mashed vegetable curry served with bread rolls.
Bhel Puri: A popular snack made with puffed rice, sev, chopped vegetables, and chutneys.
Pani Puri: Also known as gol gappas, this is a popular street food consisting of small crispy hollow balls filled with a tangy and spicy mixture of flavoured water, potatoes, chickpeas, and chutney.
Tandoori Chicken: A popular Indian dish, tandoori chicken is marinated in yoghurt and spices and then roasted in a clay oven.
Seafood: Mumbai is known for its fresh seafood, including fish, prawns, and crab, often prepared with local spices and herbs.
Biryani: A popular rice dish, biryani is made with fragrant spices and either chicken, lamb, or vegetables.
Misal Pav: This spicy curry is made with sprouted lentils and served with bread rolls.
Street-side Ice Cream: Mumbai’s street-side ice cream stalls are famous for their wide variety of unique flavours like rose, mango, and kulfi.
There are many more delicious dishes to try in Mumbai, and asking locals for recommendations on where to eat is always a good idea.
Mumbai is a city that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. With its unique charm, it’s hard to describe it in words. It’s a city of contrasts, with ancient temples and modern skyscrapers coexisting. Its people are warm, welcoming, and incredibly diverse, and its food is a treat. It will make you feel inspired, baffled, and loved by all of your senses. Overall, Mumbai is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience India’s vibrant energy and diverse culture.
Explore Trips From Mumbai
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