So much is written about this city that you probably cannot say something new about it, but what amazes people about Mumbai is how it has never ceased to be the “City of Dreams” even after all these years. The fast life of the city that never sleeps is perfectly blended with the soothing sea. This city has seen the glamorous life of Bollywood and also the largest slum in the world, the high skyscrapers and art deco buildings but also the caves dating back to 5th Century. With a Marathi culture and Victorian styled buildings, this city has everything that attracts a traveller. While this city has many places to visit, some of the best ones are –
A 4 km promenade in front of the sea and lights all round gives it a resemblance and the famous name – Queen’s Necklace. After evening this place becomes a hub of people who come to enjoy the serenity of the sea. To complete the visit eat the famous ‘Bombay Bhel’ and ‘chaat’ that vendors sell or maybe an ice cream.
A little ahead is the Gateway of India which is a distinguished landmark of this city. Built in the honour of arrival of King George V and Queen Mary in 1924, it is, as its name suggests, a big gateway on the Apollo Bunder which was a major port once. Facing the Arabian Sea, from here you can take a ferry and go for a short ride.
Also close to here is Colaba where you can go shopping or have a bite at the Leopold Cafe.
SANJAY GANDHI NATIONAL PARK
This is one of Asia’s most visited National Park and rightfully so. The greenery is a pleasing to the eye and the clean air a welcome change. If you are lucky you just might spot some wild cats.
Amidst this wildlife reserve are the Kanheri Caves which are 109 in total and were carved in 1st century BCE. The buildings were etched out of a huge basaltic rock and depict the influence of Buddhist culture in India.
HAJI ALI DARGAH
A wealthy Muslim merchant, Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, renounced all the worldly possessions and became a saint. He then embarked on a journey to Mecca but never made it. It is believed that it was here, at Haji Ali Dargah, the casket that carried his body floated and hence the tomb was built in 1431 AD. People of every religion come here, some to pray and some just to admire the magnificent architecture of the building built in white marble, the same used for Taj Mahal. The sea facing front and the windy atmosphere makes it a beautiful example of architecture as well as a prominent symbol of Islam in Mumbai.
These religious places have so much more to them other than being a symbol of people’s faith. The architecture of these temples and the story they signify are as much a reason to visit them as praying. The most famous temple of Mumbai is the Mumba Devi Temple, after which the city is named. It was believed that Goddess Mumba Devi came to the rescue when the locals were terrorized by the demon ‘Mumbaraka’ and is since the protector of the people of Mumbai.
Sidhivinayak Mandir is another important temple for Hindu believers. Dedicated to God Ganesha, this temple is visited by more than 25,000 devotees and tourists every day. The 2 feet tall idol of Ganesha was carved out of a single black stone and is so perfect that one could easily believe that some divine power was involved in its making.
These temples have elegant architecture and a tranquil atmosphere that pulls tourists toward itself despite being a religious place. If lucky, you just might see a Bollywood star praying for their next movie.
A visit to Mumbai is incomplete without visiting the place which makes it so special. This is the place which makes the Hindi film industry what it is and it is as amazing to see how it is done as watching the perfect shots on T.V. Amidst the fake lakes, forests, houses and mountains, one might get confused what is real but then, it’s Bollywood. With more than 100 sets ready to shoot, this place defines why Mumbai is called “Mayanagri”.
With Arabian Sea on its side, Mumbai has a total of 9 beaches open to visitors. Though they are not the cleanest beaches and sometimes a little crowded, they have their own attraction. One such is the Chowpatty Beach. The crowd here explains that this is probably the favourite beach of the locals. There are vendors selling food, flowers, and balloons and in the evening it is filled with people witnessing the sun set behind the sea.
Juhu Beach is also a favourite of the locals and a posh locality with most famous Indian celebrities living in the most expensive houses. Other than the serene beauty, there are several restaurants by the beach or if you are a fan of street food, Mumbai will never run out of options for you.
Other beaches in Mumbai are Marve Beach and Aksa Beach which are more isolated and give a break from the city life. Versova Beach is where you can find the ‘Koli’ fishermen doing their jobs with such skill which is fascinating to watch.
Mumbai is a great example of a mix of so many cultures and its architecture says it all. The influence of Victorian architecture is evident through buildings like Town Hall. A library and a museum, it holds gold coins and ‘mohar’ that once belonged to Akbar. Among other precious treasures is the first issue of Dante’s Inferno.
Victoria Terminus and Rajabai Tower are also instances of Victorian design, Rajabai being modelled after Big Ben.