Bombay gets it’s name from Mumbadevi, the Goddess of the city whose spire you can see less than a km away.
It is a commercial city, a melting pot , a city of dreams, where many an aspirant came to make their fortune and some who lost theirs as well. The original inhabitants of the city are the kolis or fisherfolk and almost everyone else is an immigrant just a few generations old, often freshly off the train or bus. But each has as much a claim on the city, making it what it is.
Mumbai is a relatively young city as much of it’s present history can be traced back to around 1600 when the islands were given as dowry by the Portuguese to the British on the marriage of the princess Catherine to the English monarch Charles 2, although ancient Greek history records them as Heptanesia. The city’s contours as we know them took their shape in the period between 1750 and 1850 through a series of reclamations that filled up the channels between the islands. .
What is a city? Is it just buildings and structures; no it is a composite a living organism composed of people , constantly evolving and undergoing change. It has to be experienced through it’s sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feels: an explosion on the senses. And its people.. The city is home to a diverse communities who have contributed in many different ways.
Most of it’s iconic buildings came up within a span of just 50 years between 1850 and 1900. Mostly made from locally sourced material like sandstone from Kurla, Vasai and Kalyan usually in an amalgamation of European and Indian style that gave rise to buildings in the Indo Saracenic style of architecture besides Victorian and Gothic, these buildings are not mere showpieces but functional even today. A host of them have been beautifully restored and lend their character to the city skyscrape. Amongst the noteworthy edifices are the Crawford market, JJ school of Art, Anjuman e Islam, Times of India, BMC headquarters and the VT station all situated within kissing distance of each other in less than a kilometer.
Some of you being avid birders will know that the city hosts a plethora of avian life : the preferred pigeon with kabutarkhanas being dedicated to it, the disappearing sparrow once common, the almost extinct vulture, the koyal, more heard less seen, the parrots (or is it parakeets) chirping away, the kites and eagles soaring above, the seagulls sailing along the seafront and the flamingo like the itinerant migrant along the Sewri mudflats.I have deliberately left the much reviled survivor, the crow for the last as for me he epitomizes the city and it’s spirit, feisty and ubiquitous a reminder of our ancestors during the period of shraddh ( remembering those who have passed)
The flora and fauna of which there is a paucity of in this concrete jungle is still diverse enough to merit a mention. Our green lungs are being slowly asphyxiated to the point that we will soon have to breathe air out of a cannister because the Borivali national park in the midst of our city and green swathes like Aarey, are under threat due to population pressure and commercial interests.
The city with all its bustle still has hidden secrets, pockets where you will not believe you are in the city at all. Navy nagar, banganga, aarey, gaothans, khotachi wadi, Matunga, Dadar, Bhendi bazar all of which have their own unique character and flavour.
And speaking of flavours, how can one miss out on the smorgasbord of delights the city offers?? Mumbai Iives to eat with a range to suit every taste and every pocket. There are khau gallis ( streets of food) and the ubiquitous thela ( street stalls) at every corner and a new restaurant opens every minute. There are standalone gourmets and five stars offering every conceivable cuisine and molecular gastronomy as well. The city has appropriated some dishes and made them it’s own like the bhel, pav bhaji, wada pav and falooda..
I hope this has whetted your appetite for the city and you fall in love with it like we do!!
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India was built during the British Raj in Mumbai. Located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai, the monument is companioned by the Arabian Sea.The Gateway is a basalt arch, 26 metres (85 feet) high and lies at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg at the water’s edge in the harbor of Bombay. Previously, a crude jetty used by the fishing community, it was later renovated and used as a landing place for British governors and other prominent people. In earlier times, the Gateway was the monument that visitors arriving by boat would have first seen in the city of Mumbai. The monument was erected to commemorate the landing on the Apollo Bunder of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary.
Tarapore Wala Fish Aquarium
Taraporewala Aquarium is the sole aquarium in the city of Mumbai, which was built in 1951 at a cost of Rs 800,000. The aquarium hosts marine and freshwater fishes. The aquarium is located on the famous Marine Drive and is is named after a Parsee who donated Rs. 200,000 for the construction. There are 100 species of marine and freshwater fish including seven types of coral fish, brought specially from the Lakshadweep Islands. Attractions include sharks, turtles, rays, moray eels, sea turtles, small starfish stingrays, etc. Exhibits offer an impressive glimpse of the variety of marine life in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. There is also a room with fossils and preserved fish in bottles with rare sea shells.
Prince of Wales Museum
The Prince of Wales Museum of Western India is the main museum in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. It was founded in the early years of the 20th century by prominent citizens of Bombay to commemorate the visit of the then Prince of Wales. The museum is located in the heart of South Mumbai near the Gateway of India. The museum was renamed in the 1990s after Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Empire. The museum building is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, incorporating elements of other styles of architecture like the Mughal, Maratha, Jain, etc and the museum building is surrounded by a garden of palm trees and formal flower beds.
Timing: Monday to Sunday – 10.15 am to 6.00 pm (Ticket counter will be closed at 5.45 pm).
World Trade Centre
The Mumbai World Trade Centre in Cuffe Parade was built in 1970, consisting two towers, MRVDC and IDBI. MRVDC was, at 156m, the tallest building in South Asia until the 2010 completion of The Imperial, Mumbai, which is 252m tall. Other destinations to be visited in Mumbai are Gateway of India, Nariman point, Marine Drive, Girgaon Chowpati Beach, Jinnah House (Governor House), Kamala Nehru Park, Hanging Garden, Tower of Silence, Sree Mahalakshmi Temple, Tarapore Wala Fish Aquarium, etc.
Marine Drive is a 3-kilometre-long boulevard in South Mumbai. It is a ‘C’-shaped six-lane concrete road along the coast, which is a natural bay and links Nariman Point to Babulnath and Malabar Hill. Part of the Arabian Sea, MarineDrive is situated over reclaimed land facing west-south-west. Official name for this road is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road that was earlier known as Sonapur to local Marathi people. The highlight of Marine drive is the beautiful promenade along the road where many of the citizens take in a breath of fresh air. The promenade is lined with palm trees at the northern end of Marine Drive is Chowpatty Beach. This is a popular beach famed for its Bhel Puri and many restaurants also line this stretch of the road.
Jahangir Art Gallery
The Jehangir Art Gallery is most famous art gallery and a tourist attraction in Mumbai. It was founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir at the urging of K. K. Hebbar and Homi Bhabha. It was built in 1952 and managed by the Bombay Art Society. This gallery is situated at Kala Ghoda, behind the Prince of Wales Museum, in South Mumbai and has four exhibition halls. The complex also has the popular cafe of Samovar, which is reminiscent of the 70’s socialist culture and also houses Natesans, the country’s oldest licensed antique dealers. The gallery has been turned inwards due to a combined function of an auditorium and an art gallery although the concept of an introvert art gallery could be questioned today. The Jehangir is an example of an early modernist notion of the inward looking art galleries in the city.
Timing: All days of the week – 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Girgaon Chowpati Beach
Girgaum Chaupati, commonly known as just Chaupati, is one of the most famous public beaches in Mumbai. The beach is famous for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations when hundreds of people from all over Mumbai come to immerse the idols of Lord Ganapati. It is also one of the many places in the city where the Ramlila is performed every year. An effigy of Ravan, is burnt by the end of the 10-day performance. One can find several bhelpuri, and pav bhaji vendors on the beach.
The Haji Ali Dargah is located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the Southern Mumbai. Near the heart of the city proper, the dargah is one of the most recognisable landmarks of city. An exquisite example of Indian Islamic architecture, the dargah contains the tomb of Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. The Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431 in memory of a rich Muslim merchant, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari who gave up all his worldly possessions before going to Mecca. Hailing from Bukhara, in the ancient Persian Empire and now in Uzbekistan, Bukhari travelled around the world and then settled in Mumbai.
Kamala Nehru Park
Kamala Nehru Park in Mumbai is covering an area of 4,000 square feet. Located atop of Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, it is named after Kamala Nehru, the wife of India’s first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. A place frequently visited by schoolchildren, has little to offer by way of entertainment apart from a structure shaped like a shoe, which is inspired by the nursery rhyme “There was an old woman.” From the garden, one can see the spectacular view of the Mumbai city, Chowpatty Beach, and Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive).
Nehru Science Centre
Nehru Science Centre is India’s largest interactive science center, located in Worli, Mumbai. The centre is named after India’s first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. On November 11, 1985 Center was opened to the public by the late Rajiv Gandhi. In 1977, Nehru Science Centre, first conceived as a Science & Technology Museum in late sixties, took final shape as India’s largest interactive science centre. The centre opened its first semi-permanent exhibition `Light & Sight’ in 1977 followed by the world’s first ever Science Park in 1979. It is the largest science centre in the country, and has a sprawling of Science Park with varieties of plants and shrubs. More than 50 hands-on and interactive science exhibits are installed in the park.
Timing: 09.30 AM to 06.00 PM | Ticket Counter Timing: 09.30 AM to 05.30 PM
The Hanging Gardens in Mumbai, India are also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens. These Gardens are terraced gardens perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side, just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park. They provide sunset views over the Arabian Sea and feature numerous hedges. The park was laid out in 1881 over Bombay’s main reservoir to cover the water from the potentially contaminating activity of the nearby Towers of Silence.
Juhu Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Mumbai as this beach may be accessed from the suburbs of Vile Parle, Santacruz and Andheri. Many tourists make it a point to visit the beach when they come to Mumbai, as it is a relatively uncrowned free space in the city. Juhu is famous for its Mumbai street food, notably bhelpuri, panipuri, and pav bhaji. The food stands are relatively hygienic and Italian food is also very popular in Juhu with many Italian restaurants. Juhu beach is also a very popular place for watching aircraft as planes from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.