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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
|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|
|Bandra Book Depot||Bandra (W)||91-22||6422157|
|Fountainhead Book Store||Haji Ali||91-22||4602108|
|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|
|President Book Stall||Cuffe Parade||91-22||2150808|
|Computer Book Shop India Pvt Ltd||D.N.Road||91-22||2070989|
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 Co.||Lower Parel||91-22||4914000|
|Connection 2000||Walkeshwar Road||91-22||3641474|
|Strike 10||Andheri (W)||91-22||6324533|
|Essel World & Water Kingdom||Borivali||91-22||4920891|
|Tikuji Ni Wadi||Thane||91-22||4941100|
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.
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.
Sahar Airport: 6329090, 8366700
Santa Cruz Domestic Airport: 6144433, 6113300
Mumbai Central: 4933535
MRTC Central Bus Stand: 2660253