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Tourism of India

Citylife

Mumbai

What to see

ABOUT THE CITY

A dowry gift, a derelict outpost and a clutch of swampy islands: that was the Bombay of yore. Today Bombay stands tall as India's commercial capital and its' most cosmopolitan city, often being compared with New York. Recently renamed Mumbai, it derives its name from "Mumbadevi", the patron goddess of the Koli fisher folk, its oldest inhabitants. A mere 440 sq kms in area, the megapolis has a population of about 15 million growing exponentially. Since Mumbai is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, the local and official language is Marathi, but Hindi, English, Gujrati, and that unique lingo called Hinglish are used commonly.

The original inhabitants of the city were the Koli fisher folk whose shanties still occupy parts of the shoreline. The islands were ruled by a succession of Hindu dynasties, invaded by Muslims in the 14th century and then ceded to Portugal by the Sultan Bahadurshah of Gujarat in 1534. In 1661 King Charles II of England married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal and the island of Mumbai was given to the British as her dowry. From thereon the city's fortunes went on the upswing. It soon developed as a trading port thanks to its excellent harbor and the number of merchants who were attracted from other parts of India by the lure of religious freedom and land grants that the British held out. Among those who came to seek their fortunes were large communities of Parsis, Gujaratis, and south Indian Hindus fleeing Portuguese persecution in Goa. These groups and their intermingling is the basis of the marvelously multi-cultural society that the city boasts of today.

GETTING AROUND

Bus
Mumbai's signature red buses are one of the best ways to travel short distances in the city. Buses are operated by BEST, the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. Buses tend to run at 20-minute intervals between 4:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., and like most other forms of transport they're best avoided during rush hours.

Trains
Mumbai's suburban train network is efficient, and is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get around the city. Used by over five million passengers a day it is, however, crowded. There are only three suburban lines in Mumbai - Western Railway operates one from Churchgate, and Central Railway operates two from VT.

Taxi
South Mumbai has a huge fleet of metered black and yellow taxis, and catching a cab is by far the most convenient way to get around the city. Cool Cabs operate metered blue, air-conditioned taxis, which can also be booked over the phone. Pay as per the fare chart.

Auto-Rickshaws
Auto-rickshaws are cheaper than taxis and nimbler in traffic jams. They're best used for short jaunts rather than long hauls. They're prohibited from entering the city center and are confined to the areas north of Mahim Creek.

Boat
Ferries shuttle between the Gateway of India and Elephanta Island daily except on Mondays. You can take a hovercraft to suburbs like Vashi to save time. Boats are also a good way to get out of Mumbai to week-end excursions to the beaches and hamlets on the Konkan Coast.

WEATHER

Mumbai is warm and humid throughout the year, and temperatures are stable thanks to the moderating influence of the sea. Summer lasts from March to mid-June and is characterised by high temperatures and sticky humidity. The ideal time to visit Mumbai is in winter, which extends from mid-October to the end of February. The thermometer invariably peaks around 33 C.

EATING OUT

You name it and you will find it. Just about any kind of cuisine is available in Mumbai. But do check out the sea food, especially the pomfret. The city has several Goan and Mangalorian food joints that serve traditional sea food. Some of the popular food joints in Mumbai:

Restaurant Cuisine Address Code Tel
Fountain Multi-cuisine 57, M.G. Road 91-22 2675315
Gaylord Indian Mayfair, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate 91-22 2821259
Indigo Multi-cuisine 4, Mandlik Road, Colaba 91-22 2856316
Leopold Cafe Multi-cuisine Shahid Bhagatsingh Road 91-22 2848054
Status Indian 208 Regent Chambers, Nariman Point 91-22 2040345
Goa Portuguesa Goan Kataria Road, Mahim 91-22 4440202
Pritam da Dhaba North Indian Pritam Estates, Dadar 91-22 4143311
Bageecha Indian Marve Road, Malad (W) 91-22 8884423
Legacy of China Chinese Versova, Andheri (W) 91-22 6368223
Mainland China Chinese Saki Naka Junction, Andheri Kurla Road 91-22 8578656
Sheetal Bukhara North Indian Off Linking Road, Khar 91-22 6487627
Sheetal Samudra Goan Juhu Tara Road 91-22 6182872
Pop Tate's American 5 1/2 Bungalows, Andheri (W) 91-22 6345664
Just Around The Corner Continental Bandra (W) 91-22 6413666
Yoko Sizzlers Continental Santacruz (W) 91-22 6492313
Viva Paschim Goan Worli Naka 91-22 4983636
Mela Indian Worli 91-22 4945656

BOOKSHELF

Name Address Code Telephone
Bandra Book Depot Bandra (W) 91-22 6422157
Fountainhead Book Store Haji Ali 91-22 4602108
Crossword Mahalakshmi 91-22 4922458
Danai Book Shop Juhu 91-22 6156263
Granth Book Shop S.V.Road 91-22 8768585
Book Lovers Andheri (W) 91-22 2662328
Cultural Book Depot Lamington Road 91-22 3855172
Planet M CST 91-22 2620271
President Book Stall Cuffe Parade 91-22 2150808
Computer Book Shop India Pvt Ltd D.N.Road 91-22 2070989

ENTERTAINMENT

Mumbai has a vibrant nightlife with plenty of discos, night clubs, pubs, bowling alleys, and amusement parks. Being home to Bollywood, the Hindi film industry, means you are sure to find glamour everywhere. Don't be surprised if you bump into some familiar faces from the film world.

Bowling Alleys

Name Address Code Phone
Bowling Co. Lower Parel 91-22 4914000
Buddy's Nana Chowk 91-22 3875495
Hakone Powai 91-22 5797000
Connection 2000 Walkeshwar Road 91-22 3641474
Strike 10 Andheri (W) 91-22 6324533

Amusement Parks

Name Address Code Phone
Essel World & Water Kingdom Borivali 91-22 4920891
Fantasy Land Jogeshwari 91-22 8365683
Tikuji Ni Wadi Thane 91-22 4941100

SHOPPING

Mumbai is India's great market place. You can pick up handicrafts from all over the country from various state government emporiums. They stock a large range of arts and crafts ranging from sandalwood carvings and bronze figurines to Kashmiri papier mache and miniature paintings. In Mumbai's retail stores , you'll find interesting cotton dhurries (rugs), Maharashtrian brasswork, blackwood furniture, Rajasthani dolls, block-printed bed covers and hand made environmentally friendly paper. Look out for locally produced muslin, silk saris from the central Maharashtrian town of Paithan, cotton brocade shawls from Aurangabad and textiles decorated with distinctive Warli tribal designs.

FESTIVALS

Mumbai, like the other metro cities, is home to all communities, and they celebrate all the major festivals of India.

Makar Sankranti (January 14), marks the beginning of the sun's movement northwards. Witness ruthless kite duels at Chowpatty Beach.

Holi, in February/March, the festival of colour, is celebrated with much exuberance. It marks the end of winter. Water balloons and coloured powder are thrown around with reckless abandon.

Gudi Padava, in March/April, is the start of the Maharashtrian New Year. It is marked by the erection of gudis (bamboo sticks) decorated with colourful cloth and topped with an upturned drinking vessel.

Dussehra/Navratri, in September/October, is a nine-day festival that celebrates Lord Rama's victory over the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. The nine days are marked with prayers and garba dancing, and on the final day, an effigy of Ravana is burnt.

Diwali, in October/November, is the festival of lights that celebrates Lord Rama's return home from exile. Decorative oil lamps are lit at night. The third day of Diwali is Lakshmi's (the Hindi goddess of prosperity) big day and this is traditionally the beginning of the new financial year. Plenty of fireworks light up the sky!

Christmas, December 25, and New Year's Eve, December 31, are celebrated in much the same fashion as they are in any of the world's big cities.

Emergency Information

Airport
Sahar Airport: 6329090, 8366700
Santa Cruz Domestic Airport: 6144433, 6113300
Arrival/Departure: 142

Railway
Mumbai Central: 4933535
Victoria Terminus:2623535
Churchgate: 2031952

Roadways
MRTC Central Bus Stand: 2660253