Mumbai ( Bombay ) Hotels , Flights and Travel Packages
Mumbai Travel Guide : Mumbai (Bombay) Tours & Travel Services : Hotels Best Deals & Discounts : Low Cost Flights : Affordable Travel & Holidays Packages
Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई) , earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city in India and the capital of Maharashtra state. Mumbai was originally a conglomeration of seven islands on the Konkan coastline which over time were joined to form the island city of Bombay. The island was in turn joined with the neighbouring island of Salsette to form Greater Bombay. The city has an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million (2005), making it one of the largest cities in the world. It is also home to India's largest slum population. Mumbai looms large as the commercial capital of as it is one of the India's predominant port cities. Mumbai's nature as the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian city is symbolized in the presence of Bollywood within the city, the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries. Mumbai is a city built in successive waves of migrations. The neighborhoods acquired their character from the communities that settled there first. These neighborhoods are too numerous to list and there is no commonly accepted way to group these neighborhoods into larger districts. But roughly, from the south to the north, this is how the city developed :
South Mumbai : Fort, Colaba, Malabar Hill, Nariman Point, Marine Lines, and Tardeo.
The oldest areas of Mumbai. Contains Mumbai's downtown area and is considered the commercial capital of India. The richest neighborhoods in the country are located here, which command among the highest rates in the world. Real estate prices in South Mumbai are comparable to those in Manhattan. This is the primary tourist area of Mumbai and home to most of Mumbai's museums, art galleries, bars, upscale restaurants, and the Gateway of India.
South Central Mumbai : Byculla, Parel, Worli, Prabhadevi, and Dadar.
Used to be Mumbai's industrial heartland, but went into decline when the industries did. Now this area has been revamped into a white-collar office location. Home to Mumbai's only zoo, the Worli sea face, and the temple to what people consider the city's guardian deity. As you move north, it morphs into a nice middle-class locality.
North Central Mumbai : Dharavi, Matunga, Vadala, Sion, and Mahim.
Primarily an upper middle-class area, except for Dharavi, which contains Asia's largest slum. This area developed immediately after India's independence, because of a wave of immigration. Part of the migrants were refugees from the partition.
Western Suburbs : Bandra , Khar, Santa cruz, Juhu, Vile Parle, and Andheri.
Contains Mumbai's other downtown and is home to those rich who want to have a more peaceful surrounding. It has some beaches. Home to a large Christian community and the city's most famous church. Also this is where the city's two airports are.
Central Suburbs : Kurla, Vidyavihar, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Kanjur Marg, Bhandup, Mulund and Powai.
This is a solidly middle class bastion. Mulund and Ghatkopar are home to predominantly middle and upper middle class populace, many from the entrepreneurial Gujarati community.
Harbour Suburbs : Chembur, Mankhurd, Govandi, and Trombay.
Before the development of Navi Mumbai as a satellite town of Bombay, this area used to be known only for the existence of an atomic research centre. Now this is known for being on the way to Navi Mumbai.
Northwest Mumbai : Manori, Jogeshwari
This is where you go to find beaches that are not dirty. Other than this, it is just another victim of Bombay's vast urban sprawl. Contains the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Mumbai's oldest heritage sites: the Kanheri, Mahakali, Jogeshwari, and Mandapeshwar rock-cut temples dating from the 1st century B.C to the 5th century A.D.
Northwest Mumbai : Mira Road, Bhyander, Naigaon, Vasai, Nala Sopara & Virar.
There is a lot to see in Mumbai, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in South Mumbai. By Indian standards, Mumbai is a young city and much of the land comprising the city did not exist until it was claimed from the sea over three centuries ago. It is therefore, a pleasant surprise to find rock cut caves such as the Elephanta, Kanheri, and Mahakali within city limits. Below list includes major Mumbai Landmarks & Popular attractions :
Colonial buildings : The British built a magnificent city within the walls of Fort St. George. Some fine examples of the Gothic revival, Neo-classical style and Indo-Saracenic style are seen within this area. Worth seeing are the Gateway of India, the CST terminus, and the Police headquarters or generally just take a stroll around South Mumbai.
Museums and Galleries : Some of the most famous museums and art galleries in India are found here. The Kala Ghoda area in South Mumbai teems with them, particularly the Prince of Wales Museum, and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Once again, most of them are concentrated in South Mumbai.
Beaches : Mumbai has a few beaches, including one in the downtown area. But they aren't that great and the water off Mumbai's coast is extraordinarily dirty. The relatively better ones are in the Northwest Mumbai area. But there are other beaches to be found such as the Girgaon Chowpaty in South Mumbai, The Juhu beach in the western suburbs and Aksa Beach in Malad. The currents don't seem strong, but particularly in the rains, lots of people die from drowning, so avoid getting in the water.
Zoos, parks and gardens : Mumbai has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. It is also one of the rare metropolises to have an entire national park within its borders. (Borivali national park). You will not visit Mumbai for them, but if you are already here, they make a nice escape from the din and bustle.
The city zoo (Veermata Jijabai Udyan) is in Byculla and is a colonial relic which is surprisingly well-preserved. The animals may look rather emaciated, but the sheer diversity of trees on this lush zoo is worth a trip.
Some city parks are very well-maintained and combine history as well. The "Hanging Gardens" on Malabar Hill offers stunning vistas of the Marine Drive. Further in South Mumbai, the Mumbai Port Trust Garden, is another hidden gem. This is set off a small side street off the Colaba Causeway 2-3 kms south of the main section. Once again, lovely views of the port, the naval yards, and sunset. In central Mumbai, there are the Five Gardens. Mainly used by walkers in the morning, it is a mess in the evenings. But the gardens encircle some historic, art deco residences.
Markets and crowds : Mumbai is probably worth visiting just for its street markets, the hustle of vendors, and the madness of the crowds.
Modern buildings and malls : Once the British left, the zeal to wipe away the traces of colonial rule was, unfortunately, not matched by the enthusiasm to build a new city that matched the grandeur of the British-era buildings. Now, while the shabbiness of the socialist era is thankfully being replaced by architecture with an eye on aesthetics, the new malls, multiplexes, and office buildings that are coming up are indistinguishable from those anywhere else in the world. Still, they are worth a look, especially if you want to have a look at India's success story. Inorbit Mall, the best mall in India, is in Malad.
Powai is a modern central mumbai suburb with European looks. Powai houses the Indian Institute of Technology and is built around fabulous lake. Most of the construction is in a township format and is privately built. It houses twenty top of the line restaurants, two large convenience stores, a handful of coffee shops and entertainment areas. Initially built as an upmarket self contained township, Powai has now grown into a business process outsourcing hub in Mumbai. The township reflects both characteristics; you will often find families shopping and twenty somethings hanging out in tables next to each other.
Religious places : Mumbai has temples, mosques, churches, Parsi Agiaries, and even a few synagogues reflecting the diversity of its citizens. While these are naturally of interest if you are a believer, some, like the Portuguese church at Dadar are worth visiting just for their unique architecture.
Things to Do Mumbai : There is a lot to do in Mumbai, but lack of space means that for outdoorsy activities, you need to head north, often outside city limits. In the Northwestern suburbs and Thane, you will find opportunities for water sports at Girgaum Chowpatty. There are two golf courses in the city, the more famous one in Chembur in the Harbour suburbs.
Mumbai has a vibrant theater scene with plays in many languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi. While South Mumbai has frequent performances, the best organized theater effort is at Prithvi theater, Juhu in the Western Suburbs. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Indian classical music and dance. While not a patch on the Sabhas of Chennai, you will find frequent performances of Carnatic music in Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga in the South Central suburbs.
Mumbai is also usually the first stop for Western pop and rock stars visiting India, which they usually do when they are over 50. The Rock scene is very good in Mumbai. These are very safe to go to and are recommended for rock fans. Most bands cover heavy metal acts like Pantera, Six feet under, and Slipknot, but at places like Not just jazz by the bay, there are treats for Jazz fans, as well. To try to find places with specific music tastes try asking students outside Mumbai's colleges. Western classical music performances are rarer.
Heritage walks : these walks take you around various historic and architecturally significant areas of the city. Walks are organized on the third Sunday of every month (with a break from June through August for the monsoons) and the route varies each time. The walks last around 90 min.
Marine Drive : It is a beautiful drive.
Kala Ghoda : The arts and crafts festival is held in the last week of Jan or first week of Feb annually in the historic precinct of Kala ghoda in Mumbai.
Taj Private Yacht : If you can afford it (at $300/hr, including drinks & meals), rent the Taj's private yacht (has two sun decks and three bedrooms) for a cruise around the Mumbai harbour.
Poonawallas Breeders Multimillion : On the last Sunday of Feb, the glitterati of Mumbai dress up for the Ascot of Mumbai at the Mahalaxmi Race Course. With High Tea, amazing hats, and hundreds of ordinary punters staking their little all on the outside chance, this is the event to attend in Mumbai so try to cage a ticket if you happen to visit around then.
Festivals : While many religious festivals are celebrated by people in Mumbai, a few of these are essentially public and social occasions, where the traveller can participate.
Mumbai Festival : held in Jan every year. Sample the vibrant culture of the city. The festival covers theater, sports, fashion, food, and shopping.
Banganga Festival : The musical festival is organized by Maharashtra Tourism (MTDC) [annually at Banganga Tank on Malabar Hill in Jan.
Elephanta Festival, Elephanta Island, Mumbai : Festival of music and dance takes place around Feb every year. The festival saw performances by renowned artists like Alarmel Valli, Sanjeev Abhyankar, and Ananda Shankar. There will be traditional Koli dances and traditional food.
Janmashtami : Jul / Aug. Birth Anniversary of Lord Krishna. Earthen pots full of curd are strung high up across the streets. Young men stand on top of one another to form a human pyramid and attempt to break the pots.
Ramadan : Muslim festival marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Marked by feasting at many places. Non-Muslims can also join in.
Ganesh Chaturthi : Aug / Sep. It is Mumbai's most important and colorful festivals. During the 10 day celebration, Lord Ganesh is worshiped in millions of homes. See the colourful processions and participate in them.
Mt. Mary's Feast : Sep. The feast in honor of Our Lady of the Mount is celebrated with great solemnity at St. Mary's Church, Bandra. A week long Bandra fair is held during this time attracting huge crowds.
Navratri : Sep/Oct. This is a 10 day festival, where nine of the nights are spent in worship and entire Mumbai swings to the rhythm of Garba and Raas dances of Gujarati community.
Diwali : Oct / Nov. Festival of Lights. Start of New Year and opening of new accounts. Worshiping of Goddess Laxmi. Participate in the fireworks and view the bright lights.
Christmas : Dec. This is charcterised by Mid night - masses in churches and is usually followed by a number of private parties all across the city.
Mumbai Flights & Airport : Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) is India's busiest airport and one of the main international gateways to the country. Many international airlines such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Delta & Lufthansa fly into Mumbai. Low-cost carriers such as AirAsia also fly to the city. The airport consists of two terminals : International Terminal (Terminal 2) and a Domestic Terminal (Terminal 1). Both terminals use the same airspace but are 4km apart. There is a free shuttle bus connecting them.