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Mumbai City Tour Guide - Maharashtra
• Area 603 sq. km
• Population 9925891
• Altitude Sea level
• Languages Marathi,Hindi,English, and Gujarati
• Best Time to Visit October-March
• STD Code 022
If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home, from the very earliest days when man began the dream for existence, it is Mumbai! These words of Romain Rolland say it all. Mumbai is the nagaria of dreams. People come in from all over the country to make their life here, some succeed and move to the tallest and posh-est of homes others are reduced to nothing and pass their nights on railway platforms. It is also a city of contrasts. Huge contrasts. A strong regional movement turned the name of the city and its institutions around, Bombay became Mumbai, Victoria terminus became Chattrapati Shivaji terminus and a lot many more but the heart of Bombay has not changed. It will take you into its folds no matter what your status or signature.
The city of Mumbai is actually nothing but a collection of seven islands, and a lot of reclaimed land! It’s true, whether you believe-it-or-not. In the yester years Bombay consisted of islands Colaba, Mazagao, Old Woman's Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel, and Matunga-Sion.
Through the years these passed through various hands, the Hindu rulers, the Mohammedans, the Portuguese (A lot of structures like the Afghan church, Mahim Mosque have been built in this era. In fact some say Bombay got its name thanks to the Portuguese who called it "Bom Baia" which in Portuguese means "Good Bay". The truth behind the name is still not very clear, most original Bombaiites (kolis) believe the name origins from Mumbaidevi, the goddess of Mumbai).
Anyways, the islands were then gifted to Charles II of England in 1661, as a dowry for his Portuguese wife Catherine de Braganza. These were in turn then leased out to the British East India Company in 1668, for as little as an annual sum of 10 pounds in gold! Yes that’s what Bombay meant to them. A mammoth engineering project began in 1817 to merge all the islands into one. The kolis, the original folks of Bombay moved out to smaller areas mainly Backbay reclamation, Mahim, Bandra, Khar, Bassien and Madh island where they continue to live.
Over years, the city grew into a major urban centre archaic and gothic building dotted the face of Bombay and in 1930, Bombay got its current world famous BSE building. Bombay has played a very important role in the independence especially at the time of the Quit India Movement. Post independence Bombay was the capital for both Maharashtra and Gujarat as we know them today. Post 1950 however Bombay became the capital of Maharashtra and continues to grow and glow by the day. Some time in the late 90’s Bombay became Mumbai.
A note from history: As a result of a mysterious fire which started in the docks of Bombay, on Friday April 14, 1944, the ship "Fort Stikine" (7420 tons) blew up here. At the time the ship was about to unload a lethal combination of cargo of dried fish and cotton bales (loaded from Karachi), timber, gun powder, ammunition, and gold bars from London (the latter to stabilize the Indian Rupee, which was sagging due to the Second World War and fear of invasion from Japan). The gold bullion was valued at approx. two million Pounds Sterling at that time. The two explosions were so loud that windows rattled and shattered as far away as Dadar, a distance of 8 miles. The destruction in the docks and surrounding area was immense and several hundred dock workers were killed instantly.
The population of the city was panic stricken as rumours spread rapidly that the explosions signaled the commencement of hostilities by the Japanese on the same style as the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour in the Hawaiian islands in December 1941. The Japanese were in fact nowhere near Bombay since they were engaged in fighting a losing battle with the British army in Burma at that time. Nevertheless, the Bombay Central (BB&CI) and Victoria Terminus (GIP) stations were packed to capacity with terrorized people fleeing the city in whichever train they could board for their villages with all belongings they could carry. At the time of the explosion, one of the gold bars crashed through the roof of the third floor apartment of a Parsi named D.C. Motivala more than a mile from the docks. He promptly returned the gold bar to the authorities. Almost all of the other gold bars were subsequently recovered from different parts of the city; the last ones to be found were hauled up from the bottom of the sea in the docks. However, during normal dredging operations carried out periodically to maintain the depth of the docking bays one or two gold bars were found intact as late as the 1970s and returned to the British government.
How to get there
The Chhatrapati Shivaji airports -- two of them -- one for domestic and other for international airlines connect the city to important cities and towns within and outside India. A lot of international airlines fly to Mumbai, for those that don’t you can hop onto a domestic service from your point of arrival.
Mumbai is the headquarters for both Western & Central Railways sectors of the behemoth Indian Railways. An enormous network of regular train services connects the city via superfast, express and passenger trains with all major towns and cities in India, including Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The Victoria Terminus and Bombay Central Station, the two main railway stations in Mumbai form the hub of Western Railways, tickets and reservations as well as train schedules and other information can be gotten here.
Good motorable roads connect Mumbai to all major cities, small towns and tourist centres in the state – Pune (163 km), Aurangabad (392 km), Nashik (184 km), Mahabaleshwar (239 km) and to the towns and cities of the neighbouring states of Goa - Panaji (597 km), Gujarat - Ahmedabad (545 km) and Vadodara (432 km) and Andhra Pradesh. Traffic is fairly heavy but disciplined. Interstate roadways buses and private operators run every kind of bus from luxury coaches to ramshackle rattletraps. Car rental companies will usually provide chauffeur driven vehicles; traffic drives on the right hand side and while ideally you should have an international driving license, your local license will do for stays under six months.
The regular ferry service that connected Mumbai to Goa is now defunct but Goa-Mumbai is still connected by a catamaran that takes 71/2 hours to reach Mumbai’s Bhau-ka- Chakka Ferry Wharf. The catamaran has air conditioned cabins, dining rooms and economy and business classes. The tickets come inclusive of two meals, drinks and snacks. The catamaran does not operate during the monsoons from June to September.
Best time to visit
Being sea-locked, Mumbai has temperate weather, the weather never ever really gets chilly here, at the most temperatures would drop to 12 degree Celsius. The summers (mid march to mid June) are hot and humid, with temperatures ranging right up to 38 degree Celsius. Winters set in only in November and last till January end. The rains last three long months -- June to August and some parts of the city especially the north, do tend to get flooded with consistent rains. Plan your trip keeping this in mind.
There is no dearth of good restaurants in Mumbai even though the city's obsession with Chinese food has not quite abated. But given the way the city has grown over the years it has, food wise, brought most of the world within its fold. Your, appetite, food preferences and wallet are all that you need to savour the culinary creations that the city has to offer.
Even before you set foot into smartly lit plush restaurants, you must treat your palate to the tongue-tickling Chaat that Mumbai is so famous for. This variety of spicy chutney flavoured snacks includes - bhel, pani puri, ragda patties etc. The best chaat outlets in the city are in the open on the beaches at Chowpatty and Juhu, or Khao Galli near Sunderbai Hall, Churchgate. Elco Arcade on Hill road Bandra is said to have the best chaat in the city.
Old Haunts Among the eateries that have become the regular haunts of collegians, office goers and artistes is Café eopold
(Colaba). You can grab a decent meal and drown it with tea or a glass of beer. A 'must eat' in the city is wholesome Parsi food and there is no better place than Jimmy Boy
at Hutatma Chowk (Fort Area), where the dhansak, chicken farcha and salli boti are quite tasty.
The city's best Biryani is available at Hotel Fountain Plaza
, which is in a lane next to Handloom House, just off DN Road. Other great Biryani outlets are "Hyderabad House
" next to Seven Bungalows Garden, Andheri West. Lucky, at Bandra and Just Biryani at Oshiwara
(Andheri West). This place also serves a unique Mangalorean fish Biryani.
Sea FoodBeing a coastal city, Mumbai has great seafood restaurants. The city's best seafood joints are Mahesh Lunch Home
(Cowasji Patel Street, Fort), Trishna
(Kala Ghoda) in South Bombay and Gazalee
in Vile Parle.
at Tardeo prepares awesome fadani kichdi besides other Gujarati delicacies. Panchvati Gaurav
, next to Bombay Hospital at Churchgate also serves tasty meals with unlimited helpings.
at Kalbadevi and Golden Thali
at Charni Road specialize in Rajasthani meals.
Bombay's best Chinese restaurants are Lings Pavilion
(Colaba), China Gate
(Bandra) and Chinese Room
(Napean Sea Road).
Another is Goa Portuguesa at Mahim which serves a variety of Goan and Portuguese delicacies (Veg and Non-Veg) including chicken xacuti, prawn balchao, sorpotel and baked vegetables. It is an authentic Goan restaurant outside Goa. A decent meal would cost RS 400 here, but the restaurant also offers power lunches.
at Malad next to movie time offers some great American fare, including pizzas, pastas and Mexican food. Meals and Cocktails are reasonable. The ambience is good, with great food and good music. Urban Tadka
North Indian food, Ambarsariya Murgha', Kheema Khaleji, nimbu Chicken, the varieties are superb. It is situated at Thakur Complex, Kandivli (East) and also has outlets at Seven Bungalows, Juhu-Versova road, Andheri (west).
Mumbai's elite culinary universe has grown to include some really phenomenal dining places.
at Hilton Towers Nariman Point is the best South East Asian Restaurant in the city. Stone and wood set up a harmonious balance in this restaurant which is open from 12.30pm to 11.45 pm and the menu comprises 118 recipes from Singapore, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
the rooftop bar and restaurant at Intercontinental Marine Drive, offers the most breathtaking view of the Mumbai harbour, besides tapas and grills. The terrace area offers an informal atmosphere and an open-air cocktail lounge. The feeling is both residential and romantic. The Dome has been voted Mumbai's most Romantic Restaurant of the year 2005-2006. It is open after 7 pm.
, near Regal Cinema is a lively place where the jukebox plays good rock, jazz and pop music. The wall decor comprises cartoon and quotes from George Bernard Shaw The Mondegar's exclusive inner sanctum is an English style pub called The Inside Story
. Timings: 8:30 am - 12:30 am.
, near Breach Candy, is where the city's creative minds come to play their own music and contribute to the graffiti on the wall. Beer is served by the pitcher; there are pool tables and a small dance floor. Timings: 7 pm to 12:30 am.
Jazz By The Bay
, on Marine Drive known for its karaoke nights and jazz sessions. Sunday-Tuesday are Karaoke nights. Wednesday-Friday are reserved for the live bands. Saturday is celebrity night. Timings: 12.30 pm and 12.30 am.
at Taj Mahal Hotel and Palace, Apollo Bunder is a three level night club comprising Lobby, the main dance floor and three main lounges. Timings 9pm onwards.
Crystal Plaza, New Link Road Andheri (E) is a place for good martinis offered over a 24 foot long bar. Timings: 9 pm onwards.
Lush Lounge And Grill
at the Phoenix Mills compound , Lower Parel is Mumbai's New York style Soho Lounge, usually packed to the seams. It is popular for its music. Timings 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm, 7 pm to 1.30 am.
, at Hotel Ramee Guestline, Juhu, is probably one of the largest clubs in the city situated in the Hotel basement. Timings 9 pm onwards.
at JW Marriott Hotel has exotic interiors and a good dance floor in tones of wood and great music by DJ Aqueel. Timings; 9.30 pm to 3a m.
at Linking Road Bandra gets it name from its decor. No bar stools here. Only beds! And of course good music by DJ Suketu. Timings 9 pm onward.
You can shop till you drop in Mumbai because this is one metropolis that has everything from all across the country and the world! Haute couture, cheap one- season wear, intricate jewelry, unique antiques, curios, gizmos, electronic gadgets and more, Mumbai has it all! A veritable shopper's paradise, Mumbai's numerous shopping centers, markets and malls and the best places to sift, sort and pick the best bargains in the country. The city's glitzy Malls - Crossroads (Haji Ali), Phoenix Mills Mall (Lower Parel), Inorbit Mall- (Malad), Infinity- (Oshiwara, Andheri) have all things glam and gorgeous. But for the shopper who wants to stretch his/her currency then the places to visit are the old haunts.
The Crawford Market
area, for instance, is one place in the city where you can buy anything from a button to a Blazer. The best cloth deals (Rs 50 to Rs 100 a yard and more) can be found at Kapad Bazaar
and Manish Market
near Crawford market. Manish market is also known for portable electronic goods, game CD's and foreign perfumes. The imported cloth stores Valkan
are where the trendiest fabrics of the season are found with prices ranging from RS 100 to RS 500 a yard. Readymade garments, including export surplus apparel can be picked up at Fashion Street
which is right across the road from Bombay Gymkhana on M.G. Road. Makeshift stalls displaying the trendiest of T-Shirts, trousers, skirts and dresses line the street. If you want a good deal, bargain for under half of the quoted price. The Colaba Causeway
is another place to street shop. Haggle your way to buying smart bags, sunglasses, silk scarves, Capri's, wood and brass works, CD's, DVD's and imitation jewelry.
near Matunga Station is known for its variety of fabric stocks, tailors and low priced designer wear. Authentic hand made kurtas can be bought at the Khadi Bhandar
outlets on D.N Road near Hutatma Chowk and opposite Andheri Station (West).
chain of stores at Grant Road, Warden Road, Crawford Market, Santacruz and the Inorbit Mall at Malad, sell the best designer wear in the city, be it embroidered saris, kurtas, chaniya cholis or sherwanis. To find your very own selection of Indian haute couture, you could visit the Azeem Khan Couture
at Usha Sadan, in Colaba or check out the works of prominent designers Shahab Durazi, Tarun Tahiliani, Monisha Jaisingh, etc at Ensemble
in the Great Western Building, Kala Ghoda/Fort. Ritu Kumar's Boutique
can be found on Warden Road as well as at Hilton Towers and Phoenix Mills. There are also trendy boutiques at Kemp's Corner, Napean Sea Road, Warden Road (Amarsons and Premsons) and Breach Candy. (Eternia)
Located at the Bandra - Sion Link Road, Asia's largest slum Dharavi
, is the heart of the leather goods industry
. Leather handbags, belts, wallets and other accessories made here are exported world-wide and also sold at the local department store and Malls.
The Heera Panna Shopping Centre
on the bend at Haji Ali sells foreign goods, including designer wear, electronic items, cell phones and household gadgets.
Bandra's Linking Road
and Hill Road
is the best place for wild, whacky and trendy shopping. While the former is better known for its rows of shoe shops, the latter is a haunt for readymade garments- both the cheap and expensive variety. You can buy a T-shirt for Rs 50 off the street or walk across to Globus
and pick up one for Rs 500. The choice is yours, but the variety can drive you crazy.
Most of the Handicrafts emporia and bazaars
are located in the downtown area of Mumbai. And are usually open between 10 am and 7pm. Avante
, opposite Regal Cinema, is famous for its collection of souvenirs. The Bombay Store
at Western India House, Sir P.M Road Fort is stocked with Indian handicrafts, from leatherwear and silk scarves to bed linen, crockery, jewelry, incense and aromatherapy oils. The Central Cottage Industries Emporium
, behind Regal Cinema, near the Gateway of India, is a fixed price government shops that sells well crafted items in brass, stone and wood, as well as furniture, perfumed candles, incense, aromatic oils, Indian teas and silk. Contemporary Arts and Crafts
, in the residential neighborhood of Nepean Sea Road, near Kemps Corner has tasteful collections of crafts. It is a good place to find gifts, such as carved wooden trays, picture frames, hand-painted coasters, candle stands and embroidered cushion covers. Good Earth
at Raghuvanshi Mansion, Next to Phoenix Mill Compound, Lower Parel specializes in wooden and cane furniture, table wear and cutlery and aromatic bath products.
India's most famous dhurrie
designer, Shyam Ahuja
has shops at India House, Kemps Corner and at Thane. The store is also known for outstanding and expensive hand-woven products. Besides gorgeous home furnishings, table linen, bathrobes, and towels, you can purchase authentic Pashmina shawls here.
Mumbai is full of gold and diamond jewelry stores but the most trusted name is that of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri
at Zaveri Bazaar and various outlets in the city. Serious buyers looking for one-of-a-kind pieces should consider contacting master craftspeople Viren Bhagat
or Panna J. Jhaveri
, both by appointment only.
For unusual antique finds and colonial furniture, there's no place like Chor Bazaar's Mutton Street
(closed on Fri), which is full of hidden treasures. If you do not have your wits about you here you will be relieved of whatever you have!
There are many offices and extension counters of the Government of India Tourism Department as well as the Maharashtra State Tourism Department at Mumbai.
Government of India Tourist Office, 123, M. Karve Road, Churchgate, Mumbai- 400 020. Tel: 293144-5.
Government of India Tourist Office Counter, Domestic Airport, Tel: 6149200, 6116466 Extn. 278, 279
Government of India Tourist Office Counter, International Airport, Tel: 6325331, 6366700 Extn. 3253/3608
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, CDO Hutments, Madam Cama Road, Nariman Point. Tel: 2026713, 2027762.
India Tourism Development Corporation, Nirmal Building, 11th Floor, Nariman Point, Tel: 2023343, 2026079