Mumbai also known as Bombay is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. In 2009, Mumbai was named an Alpha world city. Mumbai is also the richest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia.
The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands were under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Mumbai was reshaped by the Hornby Vellard project, which undertook the reclamation of the area between the seven constituent islands from the sea. Completed by 1845, the project along with construction of major roads and railways transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century. It became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century. When India became independent in 1947, the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as capital. The city was renamed Mumbai in 1996.
There are three main transport options in Mumbai: Train, Bus, and Taxi. The Mumbai local trains are used extensively as a means of mass transportation. It is best to avoid them during the office rush hours in the morning and the evening. Other than that all through the day they offer a comfortable ride to your chosen destination. They are known as the 'Locals' usually prefixed by the time they depart from the station. Tickets can be purchased at railway stations all over the city.
The BEST buses are run by the state government. Again these run punctually on all major routes and the top floor of the double-decker busses offer sterling views of the city as you drive through it. Some people prefer the regular taxis as they are faster, but if you are not in a rush and don’t want to pay too much, you should try out the bus. Air-conditioned taxis and CNG taxis are also available. You can order one from your hotel.
One of the first things that will hit you as you enter the city is the humidity.
Being located right on the Arabian Ocean makes this city very humid,
but the location also gives the place a bracing sea breeze. The combination
of the warm climate and humidity will have you sweating at the slightest
exertion. Do not visit Mumbai in the monsoons as the city usually gets
flooded badly and all movement is virtually at a standstill. This is why
winters are the best time to visit. The smell of Mumbai is peculiar but
you get used to within a short time and barely notice it after that.
Good to Know
All local trains stop operating after 10 pm. So if you are planning on a night out make sure you hire a taxi.
The regular taxi driver must set his meter once you get in and make sure to ask for the fare as per the fare card which he is obliged to show you.
If you plan to be in Mumbai for a longish duration it might be a good idea to get a local train pass to reduce expenditure on transportation. There are weekly, monthly and annual passes available.