Known as Bombay until its name change in 1995, Mumbai is India’s financial, commercial and industrial capital, and its property prices are some of the highest in the world. As such the city hums with activity and its twelve and a half million residents seem to be constantly on the move. There is a distinct multicultural feel here, with people from all over India and abroad having gravitated to the metropolis in search of a better life.
Visit colourful Crawford Market and from there the more local bustling markets of Chor Bazaar (thieves Market), Zaveri Bazaar (Jewellery Market) and Mulji Jetha, the cloth bazaar.
If you’re even a little bit interested in India’s diverse religions and faiths, don’t miss the bustling Mahalaxmi Temple (for Goddess Laxshmi, the Goddess of Wealth) or Mumbadevi Temple, dedicated to the Goddess Mumbadevi, after whom Mumbai is named. Haji Ali Mosque has a unique history and wonderful situation being built on a rocky outcrop offshore. The mosque is only accessible at low tide. Of course the Parsi’s (Zoroastrian’s) have their ‘Towers of Silence’ where traditionally, vultures would pick the bones of their dead clean. Tragically these days, the vultures have all but disappeared.
One of the more unique sights of Mumbai is the intriguing Dhobi Ghats – the city’s laundry washers, although local Mumbaites are fascinated by our fascination! A stroll along Chowpatty Beach at sunset is a must, where you can try the local street delicacies such as Bhel Puri and experience the carnival-like atmosphere of the markets.
Mumbai is also India’s entertainment capital, and the home of Bollywood, so if you’re lucky you might bump into a star, a film shoot on the streets or even get offered a part as an extra in a Bollywood extravaganza. Why not take a tour of the Bollywood studios, or at the very least take a taxi ride past some of the more famous star’s homes.
And of course, it’s hard to miss the fading grandeur of the British. Wandering around the Fort area of Mumbai, the British heritage is blatantly obvious when you see such remarkable buildings as VT Station, the High Court and Mumbai University.
Of course, Mumbai has had its share of tragedy. Scene of the 2008 terrorist attacks, the Taj Mahal hotel, situated in front of the Gateway of India, is now immortalised as one of India’s more infamous buildings. However, looking beyond its recent fame, it has a fascinating story, as the hotel built in 1903 by a wealthy Indian industrialist as a snub to the British who refused him entry into one of the exclusive British Clubs.