Among travelers from many countries are popular trips to Mumbai, and what to see, will find both fans of extreme entertainment, outdoor activities, and tourists who prefer to quietly enjoy the museum collections, the beautiful architecture. The city is not like noisy and dirty India: when you get to Mumbai, it’s like being transported to colonial Bombay at the time of Rudyard Kipling.
What’s remarkable about Mumbai
The largest city in western India is still called Bombay by the locals. In Mumbai, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists live side by side, people of different nationalities and income levels. It’s a city of contrasts, where both daring dreams and creepy nightmares can come true.
In Mumbai, luxury and poverty coexist. Tourists can explore different sides of the city: stay in the comfortable and inexpensive hotels of Colaba, visit the art festival in the Cala Goda quarter, and then go to the slums with cramped buildings and abandoned high-rises.
Gates of India Monument
The Basalt Triumphal Arch on the Mumbai waterfront was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V of the British Empire in 1911.
The historical value of the monument is that British soldiers passed through it when they left India when the country gained independence in 1947.
Chhatrapati Shivaji (formerly Victoria Station – after British Queen Victoria) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the building combines Victorian pretentiousness, Gothic sharpness of lines and features of national Indian culture. On the dome of the station is a statue of a woman symbolizing the movement of India into the future. She holds a Buddhist symbol in one hand and a burning torch in the other. Along the facades of the building are statues of Hindu deities, and the central entrance is decorated with figures of a lion and a tiger, symbolizing Great Britain and India, respectively.
Cala Goda District
The name of the bohemian Cala Goda means “black horse.” During the British rule of India, a statue of Edward VII on horseback was erected in the area. After independence, the monument was dismantled and replaced by a new one in the form of a black horse without a rider.
Try to make it to the colorful arts festival, which is held annually in Cala Goda in early February. Festival sections include:
- urban design;
- fine art.
Admission to all events is free, limited only by the number of seats available at the venues.
The island of Elephanta in the Arabian Sea has a complex of ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples. The main sanctuary are the ruins of the Brahma temple carved into the two-headed rock. In this place, a 6-meter statue of the three-faced Shiva has survived since the barbaric destruction of Indian culture by the colonizers. It shows the arrows of the shots, where Portuguese soldiers practiced their marksmanship by using Buddhist shrines as targets.
The long Marin Drive promenade is Mumbai’s main tourist artery. One side overlooks the skyscrapers, the other the Chowpatty Beach and Back Bay. The waterfront ends at Malabar Hill, where the former seat of British government institutions is located.
On Marin Drive there are many activities for tourists: water rides, aquarium, cafes and restaurants for all tastes and wallets.
Tourists who plan their own trip prefer to stay in the colonial district, located in the lower part of Mumbai. In Colaba, there are many hotels of different levels, there are budget cafes. In the evenings, Colaba Causeway becomes the local center of active street vending. There you can buy jewelry, traditional clothes and various souvenirs.
Prince of Wales Museum
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum) is located at the Gate of India. The architecture of the building is striking: the museum is in the Indo-Saracenic style, decorated with a large dome decorated with white and blue tiles, turrets and balconies.
The collection includes more than 50,000 exhibits grouped into 3 sections: art, archaeology and natural history. The museum displays exquisite Chinese and Japanese porcelain, Indian weapons and armor, stone sculptures from Elephanta Island, national costumes, etc.
The current state university is one of the oldest in India. The school draws the attention of tourists with its unusual architecture. Narrow windows with stained glass windows, columns and arches, open balconies of the main building – a great backdrop for photos.
The architectural ensemble of the Mumbai High Court is inspired by the Romanesque style. The building looks like a medieval castle surrounded by palm trees.
Nearby is Oval Park, a large landscaped recreation area where the locals like to play cricket.
Taj Mahal Hotel
The 5-star Taj Mahal Palace is located in the Colaba district, close to the Gate of India. According to popular legend, a nineteenth-century Indian entrepreneur had partners make an appointment at the Watson Hotel, with a “Whites Only” sign hanging on the door. Insulted, he decided to build a luxury hotel.
He succeeded, and the Taj Mahal received international recognition. British King Edward VII stayed at the hotel. The headquarters of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were also organized there, and in 1947 the independence of India was proclaimed in the Taj Mahal Hall.
Now anyone can stay at the hotel. Rooms are limited to suites overlooking the Arabian Gulf, the city or the Gateway of India. The cost of living – from $ 400 per night. Guest service includes limousine transfers and butler service.
Hadji Ali Mosque
The Muslim relic in Mumbai is erected on a small island connected to the coast by a narrow path. To get to Hadji Ali at high tide is possible only by boat. The religious complex is a must-visit destination for any Muslim tourist. The best time to visit is from October to March, when there are no strong tides. On Thursdays and Fridays, traditional chants can be heard at the mosque. On other days Muslims can visit the prayer rooms.
The fountain, depicting the Roman goddess Flora, is located in Hutatma Chowk Square in the Fort business district. An interesting composition made in the Indian Baroque style. As darkness falls, a beautiful multicolored backlighting comes on.
But to see the sculptures, it’s better to get to Hutatma Chowk Square before sunset.
The Mahalakshmi Temple, dedicated to the goddess of prosperity, is located on Kumballa Hill, not far from the Haji Ali Mosque. The Hindu temple is open to tourists, but you can’t go to the goddess empty-handed. It is better to buy a special offering kit that includes flowers, coconut, fruit, and cloth (sold by the many vendors that gather around the temple).
The temple-monastery complex is a monument of ancient Indian architecture. Monks lived and prayed in the caves (more than 100 have been discovered) carved out right in the rock. Guides show the most interesting places:
- a cave between 2 boulders, with images of the Buddha on the walls;
- hall with a painted ceiling – an example of ancient painting;
- a large cave with columns of different shapes.
The attraction is located in Sanjaya Gandhi National Park. From the gates of the park to the caves lead bulk road and a wide stone staircase. There are many monkeys in the park, but some of them are aggressive.
The city hall was built in the neoclassical style. The columns that adorn the facade of the snow-white building were brought to Mumbai from Britain. Wide steps lead up to City Hall. The first floor of the building has wrought iron balustrades and the walls are finished with luxurious teak wood. In the northern part of the floor is the library of the Asiatic Society, which houses the first edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. On the second stage is the marble sculpture gallery, where the statues of the founders of the city are located.
City main post office
The central post office is located in the Colaba neighborhood, near Victoria Station. It is an ancient building in the Indo-Moorish style. The exterior decoration of the building combines classical European arches, elements of Indian architecture (for example, minarets) and Islamic culture (large dome, which covers the main hall).
Dharavi Slum District
Dharavi is the largest slum in the world.
The population of the district is more than 1 million people and the area is only 2.15 sq. km (the same area is occupied by Innopolis in Tatarstan – 2.2 sq. km with a permanent population of 1.1 thousand people).
The houses in this neighborhood are built from improvised materials, and the alleys between them are no more than one meter wide. There are a few high-rise buildings on the outskirts, but they are a sad sight: some are abandoned, others have turned into squats. Most of the slums are littered with garbage and cattle feces (almost all the locals keep goats).
Essel World theme park
The Essel World entertainment complex includes more than 30 family rides and 10 extreme rides. Those who are not afraid of heights, waiting for the 340-meter roller coaster Hoola-Loop with a dead loop, which carriages pass at a speed of 75 km / h. You can see Mumbai from the big classic Ferris wheel. And for the youngest visitors there are rotating swings, monorail cars, boats, etc.
Water Kingdom water zone is attached to the park. The water park has simple children’s slides and large vertical tubes. The area is divided into several thematic zones, including the river, swimming pool, a separate children’s area. In the park there is an ice rink and a dance floor, where the disco.
The subway, which is considered the busiest rail system in the world, covers the entire Mumbai metropolitan area. The western line runs along the coast, the port line runs through the slums of Dharavi and crosses the Arabian Gulf through an underground canal. The fare on the train is up to 5 rupees (depending on the length of the trip). Tickets can be purchased at the box office and special machines.
The Hanging Gardens of Mumbai, or Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, are an excellent example of landscape design. In the Indian heat it is worth a walk on shady terraces decorated with flowerbeds and bushes in the shape of different animals. There are also original compositions – a house in the form of a boot, which has become the most recognizable part of the park.
St. Thomas Cathedral
India’s first Anglican cathedral was erected in the early 18th century to maintain the morals of Britons living away from their homeland. The temple was consecrated in honor of St. Thomas, who first came to India to spread the teachings of Christ among the natives. Tourists are attracted by the colonial architecture of the cathedral. Some attend services.
Jama Masjid Mosque
The Cathedral or Friday Mosque is a popular place of pilgrimage. The main building is surrounded by terraces and a double attic. In the courtyard is an outdoor swimming pool, from whose waters rise the stone arches that support the mosque.
In the water reservoir you can perform ablutions before namaz.
Film City Film Studio
The Ramoji Film Studio in Mumbai is the largest film city in the world. It’s not Bollywood, Film City makes local movies. But this fact does not make a visit to the studio any less interesting. On the territory of the park are large models of the hospital, airport, rebuilt from easy-to-work materials churches and mosques, Hindu temples, recreated palace interiors. Tourists can look at the sets, film sets, etc.
How to build an itinerary for an independent travel
Plan the route so that with the maximum benefit for themselves to spend time, leave room for their own discoveries. First, decide which attractions you want to visit (fix them in a list in any order, save them to a Pinterest board or as bookmarked links).
Don’t waste time on detailed planning: you don’t need to know where the right bus stops or which restaurant has the best ratings on a travel aggregator site. The main thing – determine for yourself what is important not to miss in one place or another.