What to See in Mumbai
The city of Mumbai is the economic capital of India; a melting pot in which hundreds of people pour into everyday from all over the country.
A coastal city which was originally made up of seven islands, Mumbai has grown in size and stature over the past few centuries. It is a must-visit metropolis for anyone coming to India. Originally the little fishing village of Mumbai was given as gift by the Portuguese to the British.Read More
Bhau Daji Lad Museum
Previously known as the Victoria and Albert Museum it is the oldest museum in the city of Mumbai. Located near Byculla Station it has been under renovation by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Mumbai (INTACH). The museum consists of a square, single-storied building housing a library with rare maps and several old manuscripts.
Clay models, painting in the 'Company' style of the Raj, bronze, silver and copperware, and delicate ivories all find a place here. It was renamed after Ramkrishna Vitthal Lad who was better known as Bhau Daji. It was originally his idea to build a museum for the Empress of India in Mumbai and the renovation is almost complete, with the museum will soon open to the public.
- Location: Byculla Station
Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Built by the British, this railway terminus was designed to be an exact replica of the Victoria Terminus in London. In fact it was also called the Victoria Terminus till about a decade ago when it was rechristened after Shivaji Maharaj, a famous Maratha warrior king. It is still referred to as 'VT' in common parlance, though 'CST' is catching up with it.
A major train station through the gates of which thousands arrive and depart from the city. It has separate lines for inter city and intra city trains, which are also known as 'locals'. It is always crowded and despite measures to keep it clean, is quite a mess. Prepaid taxi services available here.
- Location: Southwest Mumbai
Another stretch of beach in the south of Mumbai is Chowpatty. Very close to the actual commercial hub of office buildings in the city, if you come down to the beach from Marine Lines at night you will also see the 'Queen’s Necklace, a circle of street lights that looks like a necklace. The beach is famous for its 'Pau Bhaji', essentially buns toasted with butter served with a blend of vegetables.
The ice cream and pau bhaji serve as dinner to the crowds that descend on the beach every evening. If street food is not for you, after you have had your fill of the beach you can cross the main road and head for some very popular restaurants.
- Location: Chowpatty
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Elephanta Caves are situated on Elephanta Island off the southeast coast of Mumbai. The island comprises two sets of Hindu and Buddhist caves. The set of caves depicting Hindu Traditions and Lord Shiva are the more popular ones and are carved out of stone. The Great Cave is the most prominent part of the group and was a centre of worship for Hindus before the Portuguese took over this region and with them brought considerable damage to the caves. The caves were later renovated and designated a World Heritage Site Status by UNESCO in 1987. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, boats operate daily 09:00-14:30, last boat leaves Elephanta Island at 15:30
- Location: Elephanta Island off the southeast coast of Mumbai
Gateway of India
Build for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary when he visited India in 1911. It is an imposing structure, one of the city’s most prominent landmarks and a must visit. It has been featured in numerous movies which have been shot in the city and is also a rallying point for public processions and peaceful demonstrations.
Candle light vigils are common for popular causes. You can also take a ferry ride from here to the Elephanta Caves; buy the tickets at the gateway office beforehand. It will cost around five dollars for a round trip. Boats depart every half an hour.
- Location: South Mumbai
These temples are not very old and were in fact built in 1904. They are located on the Ridge Road at Walkeshwar in Malabar hill region and are a major landmark besides being a place of worship for the Jain Community. The entrance is flanked by two stone elephants and the temple is set on two floors.
The dome on the upper level is painted with signs of the Zodiac while images of various gods and saints are housed on the lower level. The Jains are primarily a business community, but are dedicated to lives of non-violence. The holy men even wear a cloth on their mouth to avoid accidentally killing tiny insects. All life is holy to them. When you visit follow the customs.
- Location: Malabar Hill
This is one of the most popular beaches in the north of Mumbai, with a perpetual fun-filled carnival-like ambiance every evening. Families visit the beach and ride the horses, or the small Ferris wheels that are scattered along the beach.
The beach is lined with private homes, and quite a few bungalows of famous Bollywood actors - early morning is a good time to see them jogging or exercising on the beach. Cabs will take you to the end of the lane from where you will need to walk about 500 metres to the waterfront.
- Location: On the coast, near the airport
These Buddhist caves are located in the middle of Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park located north of Borivili. They do not have the artistic overtures of the Elephanta cave temples and are rather Spartan in comparison. Dating back to the first century and with signs of inhabitation till the ninth century, these caves include a well-preserved dagoba and an assembly hall flanked with huge stone pillars.
There are also remnants of a water system along the park. Travel agents offer pilgrimage tours with guides, if you are interested. It comes as quite a surprise to hit a natural forested area so close to the concrete jungle of Mumbai.
- Location: Sanjay Gandhi National Park, north of Borivili
Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum
The Gujrati Haveli is where Mahatma Gandhi lived for a considerable time, is now a museum dedicated to his memory. The two-storied building has a huge library which Gandhi-ji also known as 'Bapu' used. It has a photo gallery and his memorabilia including the spinning wheel he used to spin khadi also called his 'Charkha'. All key movements of the freedom struggle were launched from this home including the Satyagrah, Swadeshi, Khilafat, Khadi and Non-Cooperation movements. He resided there from 1917 to 1934 on the insistence of the Mani family, who were the actual owners. It was established as a museum in 1955.
- Location: Near Nana Chowk at Gamdevi