Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, is the fastest moving, most affluent and industrialised city in India. Mumbai is part of India's beautiful west coast, that runs down from Gujarat, through Mumbai to Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The city has a natural harbour, which was developed by the British. It is one of the most busy ports of India, handling approximately 40 percent of India's maritime trade.
Mumbai (till recently known as 'Bombay'), derives its name from the local deity Mumba Devi, whose temple is still there. The Portuguese predecessors of the British preferred to think of the name as Bom Baim, the Good Bay. Mumbai is a group of seven islands which are today known as Colaba, Mahim, Mazgaon, Parel, Worli, Girgaun and Dongri. Large expanses of open sea have been filled in, and tidal swamps have been reclaimed for furthering the land area. These reclaimed areas include Churchgate and Nariman Point.
Mumbai is home to people of all Indian creeds and cultures. It is a fascinating city, throbbing with life, and, for many people, the gateway to India.
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule (Crawford) Market (Dr D Navroji Road/Carnac Road, just north of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) is the British-built food market selling fruit, vegetables, meat and pungent piles of drying Bombay duck (a typical local fish). Nearby stalls along Hutatma Chowk (Flora Fountain) sell everything from cheap film to knock-off sunglasses, while MG Road near Kala Ghoda is lined with second-hand book stalls, though the local municipality is always threatening to evict them from the pavements. Fashion Street, M Road, opposite Bombay Gymkhana, is a great place to find discounted and seconds Western clothing. Chor Bazaar (Mutton Street, near Null Bazaar) is a true flea market with some real gems hiding amongst the tat. Zaveri Bazaar (off Abduhl Rahman Street, near the Mumbadevi temple) is the place for jewellery. For upmarket jewellery, carpets and fashion (including tailoring and dressmaking), head for Colaba Causeway or the shopping malls in the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. The World Trade Centre (Cuffe Parade) includes official emporia from almost every state in India, with air-conditioning and fixed prices for easy souvenir shopping. The district of Bandra has several trendy boutiques selling clothes and accessories.
The climate of Mumbai is temperate with the summers warm and winters cool, with negligible seasonal temperature variations. In May, the hottest of the warm summer months, temperatures hover between 27° Celsius (81°F) and 33° Celsius (92° F). The summer heat gives way to the monsoon, when the southwest monsoon winds unleash their laden fury on the city. The average rainfall is 217 cm but the city's streets get flooded every rainy season (June to September/October). Relative humidity levels climb to more than 87% and dehydration and enervation as clothes-stick-to-the-body are two very common complaints from visitors and residents alike. The winter months from November to February are balmy and cool with day temperatures averaging a comfortable 19° Celsius (67° F).
LION SAFARI PARK/KRISHNAGIRI UPV/SANJAY GANDHI NATIIONAL PARK:
The national Park, also called Krishnagiri Upvan has the Gandhi Smriti Mandir on Pavilion Hill. The Lion Safari park gives visitors an opportunuity to watch the Indian lion from special, closed vehicles. The Lion Safari park is open on all days, except Monday. Closed on Tuesday if Monday happens to be a public holiday.
The Elephanta island is known as Gharapuri (fortress city). The 7th century cave temple complex, which has been carved out of rock under two small holls, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was a flourishing place of pilgrimage tilla few centuries ago. It has a magnificent 18 feet high, three-headed bust of Shiva- the Maheshmurti. The main cave, which is known as Elephanta, is supported by masasiva pillars, each restin gon a supported by massive pillars, each resing on a square base with fluted shafts. Inside is the main hall housing sculptures of various gods in the Hinu mythology. This well known tourist spot is accessible by boat from the Gateway of India.
The suburban electric train stops at malad, from where the journey must be made by road. Hotel accommodation available. GORAI BEACH (59km) The nearest railway station is Borivili. Private shacks are available here.
A 5 km long beach fringed with palms and coconut trees, it is a popular picnic spot and has a number of hotels and restaurants.
Carved out of native rock, the 112 caves that form the complex are believed to have been occupied by Buddhist monks for nearly a thousand years, starin g2nd century A.D thus nmaking them one of the oldest rock monasteries in the country. Caves No. 1,2 and 3 are noteworthy for their massive pillars, scuptures and stupas.
CHODBUNDER: The suburban electric train stops at Borivili from where Chodbunder is 9.6 km by road. It is an enchanting picnic spot.
Gateway of India , Mumbai
Juhu Beach Mumbai
KERALA CAVES: The Buddist rock-cut Chaitya Hall of Karla dates to the 2nd century B. and is said to be the most perfect od its kind. An inscription at the entrance attribters its excavation to Bhutapal of Vaijayanti. The caves are approached by a rough path of about 2 km. Sedan chairs available.
KARNAKLA BIRD SANCTUARY AND FORT: About 150 species of birds have been spotted here, 30 of which are migratory. The rare Ashy Minive, a native of the Phillippines, has also been seen here
MADH, MARVE AND MANORI BEACHES: By suburban electric train to Malad and thence 12km, 5.6 and 6.4 respectively by road. Ferry sevices feom Marve Beach to Mnori Beach are available. Allow full day, Accomodation available.
MATHERAN HILL RESORT: A motorable road has been constructed and is open to light vehicle traffic. Trains available from Mumbai CST (Victoria Terminus) to Neral and then to Matheran.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Mumbai
Gateway of India:
What could be more appropriate a beginning than the 'entrance' to the port of Mumbai? The ceremonial arch was built in 1927 to Commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911.
Haji Ali Mosque:
This early 18th century shrine contains the tomb of HAZRATH HAJI ALI, a Muslim Sufi saint. There are two local legends which claim to trace the hazrath's antecedents.
With its columns and tall Grecian porticos, this structure has been the foundation of the Library Society of Mumbai which moved into the Town Hall in 1830, soon after which a union was effected with the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Founded by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Ready money, after whom is named the earlier of the two structures, was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott.
Bombay High Court:
This blue-basalt building in early English Gothic style was designed by Col. J. A. Fuller. It has central tower standing almost 180 ft.
Sir J. J. School Of Art:
Built during the same period as the University, its importance is heightened by the fact that Rudyard Kipling was born and spent his early childhood here.
Rechristened as Mahatma Phule Market, it was built in 1871 by William Emerson. The bas-reliefs, at a height, adorning the facade, were designed by J. L. Kipling at the School of Art, a stone's throw away.
Chowpatty Beach (GIRGAUM):
Situated at the northern end of Marine Drive, it is a stretch of sandy beach and attracts hordes of people during the weekends and on holidays.
JUHU Situated 30 km from the city, it is a crowded beach with residential apartments and bungalows surrounding it. It seems as if the entire population of the area descends on the beach for a breath of fresh air!.
How to Reach Mumbai
Plane: Mumbai is the main international gateway to South India. It also has the busiest network of domestic flights, with services to more than 30 cities daily. The international airport Chhatrapati Shivaji (www.mumbaiairport.com), known as Sahar, is about 4km (2.5mi) away from the domestic airport, which is also called Chhatrapati Shivaji but known as Santa Cruz. A free shuttle bus connects the two, which are north (30km/19mi and 26km/16mi respectively) of Nariman Point in downtown Mumbai.
Bus: Numerous private operators and state governments run long-distance buses to and from Mumbai. Generally, private operators have faster and more comfortable services and simpler booking procedures. Private long-distance buses depart for all points from Dr Anadrao Nair Rd, near Mumbai Central train station. Destinations include Goa, Pune, Aurangabad, Mahabaleshwar, Ahmedabad , Udaipur and Bangalore. More convenient for Goa and southern destinations are the private buses that depart twice a day from MG Rd, just south of the Metro cinema. Some buses to South India depart from MRA Marg at the rear of Crawford Market. It's best to purchase tickets directly from agents with pavement stalls clustered in either of these areas. Long-distance state-run buses depart from Mumbai Central bus terminal close to Mumbai Central train station. Buses service major towns in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. They're marginally cheaper and more frequent than the private services, but they're also decrepit, crowded, uncomfortable vehicles. Destinations include Pune, Aurangabad and Mahabaleshwar.
Train: Three train systems operate out of Mumbai, but the main two that are important for overseas visitors are Central Railways and Western Railways. Central Railways, operating mainly from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST, formerly Victoria Terminus), covers services to the east and south, plus a few trains to the north. The reservation centre is at the back of CST where the taxis gather. Tourist-quota tickets are available at Counter 52 on the 1st floor but can only be bought during the 24 hours before the date of travel. Indrail passes can be bought at Counter 7.