Mumbai is a place of contradiction, and as the most populous city in India, pros and cons come with the title. Where there are millionaires, not far away you will find hard-labourers, living in one of Asia largest slums, yet finding yourself in the same city as the world’s most expensive house. You will find a successful film industry alongside crippling poverty; stray dogs and exotic birds; and a city with its own language, Bambaiyya Hindi. If you want to explore India, this is the place to start.
If you arrive in the city by train, you’re already in for a treat, because Mumbai’s train station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is renowned for its architecture all over the world. The building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, designed in the High Victorian Gothic style, alongside influences from Indian architecture, with the turrets, pointed arches and skyline among other aspects taking inspiration from the traditional architecture of Indian palaces.
There are various sightseeing tours around the main points of attraction in Mumbai, with many exploring markets, train stations and, of course, the filming locations of Oscar-winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Tours are generally made up of only a few tourists with a guide to ensure you can get the most out of the visits, as well as making it easier to use the incredibly busy public transport in Mumbai, giving an up close and personal insight into the lives of the locals. A common area of attraction is the Dadar flower market, as flowers in Indian culture are very important, used both religiously and decoratively and found almost anywhere you can think of in the country. Trips also pass through Dhobi Ghat to see the working class washermen, or Dhobi Wallahs, who clean the linens and clothes of people and businesses from all over the city, from hospitals to hotels, in outdoor laundries, and tourists will also see the Chor Bazaar, or ‘Thieves Market’, one of the largest and busiests flea markets in the country where you can pick up pretty much anything you can think of, from posters, to sweets, to fresh meat and spices. As well as these, tours around Bollywood film studios are also very popular among tourists.
Elephanta Island is a must-see in Mumbai, located in the harbor and home to the Elephanta Caves which have been carved out of the rocks and filled with sculptures and carvings. Boat trips to the island take one hour and leave daily from the Gateway of India, so it’s almost as if you’re getting two sightseeing trips in one, with the 20th century monument considered Mumbai’s most popular tourist attraction and has been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai.
If you’re like us, you will have been waiting for food in Mumbai to be mentioned. The street food of Mumbai is more diverse and complicated than anything you may find in London, and stalls get started in the late afternoon in many locations around the city, serving tasty specialty food such as eralan thalis, or ‘all-you-can-eat’ meals, bhelpuri (rice with fried dough, lentils, onions, herbs and chutney), and Bombay Duck, a delicacy which despite its name is actually a fish dish that was banned for a time in the UK because it contravened hygiene laws (for being too smelly!) While there are high-end restaurants in Mumbai, such as Indigo, a multi-award winning restaurant frequently the haunt of celebrities and politicians, we prefer the idea of an authentic and unique experience of Indian street food in one of the most exciting cities in the country.
In such a hot climate such as Mumbai, it’s definitely essential to be taking a good pair of sunglasses with you. We would suggest theses Dolce & Gabbana Square sunglasses with an awesome purple lens.
The temperatures in Mumbai can reach the mid-30s °C around this time of year, so can you handle the heat and take an expedition to India?