Photo by Patrick Horton

Big brash Mumbai, beating heart of finance and film

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Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the financial capital of India and political capital of the state of Maharashtra. The city is home to the mega rich the absolute poor, gangsters and film stars. Bollywood, the multi-million dollar film industry, is based here.

While it’s a seaside town, the sea is too filthy to contemplate even paddling in. Save swimming for the beaches of nearby Goa.
Like anywhere crowded keep your valuables safe and hidden.

Places to visit

The Gateway of India (PJ Ramchandani Rd) is an Indian version of the triumphal arch. It was built after the visit of the King Emperor George V in 1911. From here that the last British soldiers departed India in 1948. Boats leave her for the visit to Elephanta Island. Locals come here in the evening to enjoy the cooler evening air.

CST or Chhatrapati Sivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) is where India’s first train service started in 1853. The train station (Dr Dadabhai Naoroji Rd)) is an extraordinary Victorian Gothic building with stain glass windows and sculptures of Indian animals mixed up within the architecture. Hundreds of thousands use this station daily.

The National Gallery of Modern Art showcases modern Indian art in a big exhibition space. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (better known as the Prince of Wales Museum) off Mahatma Gandhi Rd, hosts exhibitions of archaeology, art and natural history.

The Mahatma Gandhi Museum is a private house where Gandhi stayed on his visits here. It is now a memorial museum. Photographs, letters he wrote to world leaders and a kitschy diorama wonderfully illustrate his life.

So Indian!

The Dhobi Ghats. Exotically Indian. There’s a saying about not washing your dirty linen in public but that’s what’s done here. The ghats (dhobi relates to laundry) are where an army of men beat the dirt out of laundry in open air cubicles.

Chowpatty Beach (Chowpatty Seaface) looks best from a distance but close up it is a mess of rubbish and other unsavoury matter. Come here in the evening to join the locals as they gather for an evening out and to eat at the local stalls. Again, don’t even think of swimming from the beach if you value your health.

An early morning visit to Sassoon Dock in the Coloba district reveals a riot of colour and silvery fish as boats are unloaded and women sort the fish. Photography is forbidden but in these days of mobile phones with good cameras that becomes hard to police.

Places of worship

Among the places of worship to visit are the following:_the Hindu Walkeshwar Temple is about 1000 years old; Haj Ali’s Tomb is a tomb and mosque dedicated to a Muslim saint who is said to have drowned here at the end of a causeway that is flooded at high tide; and the Jain Temple on Malabar Hill.

An excursion by boat

Regular boats take visitors on a 90-minute trip from India Gate to Elephanta Island out in the bay. These caves have been carved out of the rock and contain supporting pillars and carved panels depicting characters and events in Hindu mythology. The caves are about 1200 years old.

When To Go

How Much Time To Spend

Three days are a minimum, more for day trips out of the city.

High and Low Season

Best time to go is November to March. The monsoonal rain comes between June and August. The hottest periods are March to May and October to December.

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in local currencies.

See & Do
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$ => Rooms less than $xxx for a double
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$ => $1-xx per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$ => $xx-xx per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $xx per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

N/A => Not applicable

$ => Tickets less than $xx per person
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Mumbai is well served by international and domestic airlines. Good railway services connect it to the rest of the country.


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