Mumbai (Bombay), India

Mumbai (Bombay), India (1/28-29/2013) – Mumbai is the largest city in India offering amazing contrasts - everything exotic and chaotic from India!

Pat Dunlap Colors Smells Mumbai India
Pat Enjoying the Colors 
and Smells of Mumbai, India
The sights and smells of India hit you as soon as you arrive. Even at midnight leaving the Mumbai Airport to find our taxi, the interesting smells engulf you initiating you to your new world like making a new friend. When visiting Mumbai, be ready for chaos meets modern urban society.

Low Income Area Mumbai India
Low Income Area - Mumbai, India
High Income Area Condos Mumbai India Chowpatty Beach
High Income Area - South Mumbai, India
Mumbai, the largest and richest city in India, is an illustration of astounding contrasts. Literary, in the very shadow of millionaire high-rise condos, people live in slums surviving each day on what their rich neighbors spend on morning breakfast. But you can stroll through those slums without fear that would be reasonable in many other cities of the world. Obviously apparent, India is a young country with a large amount of its population below the age of 30. In this largest city in India, people travel along infrastructure that is extremely overly congested making a living however they can. The incredible thing is that Mumbai is a city that works.

Street Scene Mumbai India
Street Scene - Mumbai, India
When driving around the crazy horn-honking traffic in Mumbai, you would readily conclude that the buildings, roads, and even main sights suffer from neglect and much of the city looks like a developing country. At the same time, the streets are clean and when you go inside many of the places, they are surprising modern and beautiful.

Mumbai is considered the most cosmopolitan city in India alluring people seeking a better life with glamour represented by being the center of the Bollywood, the India’s film and TV industries. Yet right in the middle and impossible to overlook, it is home of Asia’s largest slum (Dharavi – see photo) where half of Mumbai’s population live.  You have probably seen this in the movie Slum Dog Millionaire.

Street Dharavi Slum Mumbai India
Street in Dharavi Slum - Mumbai, India
Street Dharavi Slum Mumbai India
Dharavi Slum - Mumbai, India
Interestedly, the low-income housing is mixed among the higher income, not separated like in many cities, and it winds around the high-rise buildings like a ribbon. This low-income area has running water and electricity. In the mist of all this, the colors of India are marvelous – the women in their colorful clothing, flowers, richly painted buildings, and even the trucks. Color is everywhere and the food is wonderful.

Pat Hindu Wedding Mumbai India
Pat at Hindu Wedding - Mumbai, India
A highlight of our visit to Mumbai was mixing in a Hindu wedding. The women wear colorful clothing and everyone dances before the wedding (see photo). They had no problems of us joining in for a while – amazingly hospitable people.

Pat Hindu Wedding Mumbai India
Chowpatty Beach - South Mumbai, India
Mumbai’s most common tourist sites are concentrated in Mumbai's downtown area, South Mumbai. It is the commercial capital of India where the richest neighborhoods in India are located. The high-end real estate prices in South Mumbai are comparable to those in Manhattan in New York. South Mumbai is home to most of Mumbai's museums, art galleries, bars, and upscale restaurants.

We treated ourselves to a half-day city sightseeing tour of South Mumbai. Here are some of the highlights you should consider visiting or driving by to see:

Taj Mahal Hotel South Mumbai India
Taj Mahal Hotel - South Mumbai, India
Taj Mahal Hotel: We wandered through the famous Taj Mahal Hotel (see photo) located across from the Gateway of India. Walking through its incredibly beautiful corridors is worthwhile. We could image a day when the elegantly dressed British men and women met socially and to discuss business.

Dhobi Ghat Laundry Mumbai India
Dhobi Ghat Laundry - Mumbai, India
Dhobi Ghat: Strangely, washing laundry at the world’s largest open-air laundry is interesting. The washers, locally known as Dhobis, work in the open to wash the clothes from Mumbai's hotels and hospitals. There are 1,026 open-air concrete troughs, each fitted with its own flogging stone (see photo).

Victoria Terminus Railroad Station South Mumbai India
Victoria Terminus Railroad Station 
- South Mumbai, India
Victoria Terminus (VT) (Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus – see photo): The beautiful station is Mumbai’s most extravagant Gothic building and a symbol of British colonialism when the city was named Bombay. Built in 1887, the VT is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and historic railway station that still today serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways in Mumbai and the busiest train station in Asia.

Marine Drive High Rises South Mumbai India
Marine Drive High Rises 
- South Mumbai, India
Marine Drive: Real estate prices along this major tree-lined boulevard are among the highest in India. Many restaurants and high-rise buildings line Marine Drive. At the northern end is Chowpatty Beach (see photo), a popular beach known for its local fast food. Most of the buildings have an art deco look that was popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Miami is the only city in the world that has more art deco buildings.

Prince of Wales Museum (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya): The largest and best museum in Mumbai houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history.

Gateway of India South Mumbai India
Gateway of India - South Mumbai, India
Some other of the sites in South Mumbai we found to be just OK are: Mahalaxmi / Jain Temple - if you have not visited a temple, this is one of the oldest in Mumbai. Gateway of India (see photo) is a monument built by the British. Flora Fountain – good for drive-by, it was built in 1864 at the Martyr's Square (Hutatma Chowk) and ornamentally sculpted. Mani Bhavan - acted as the focal point of Gandhi's political activities in Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. Hanging Garden (Pherozeshah Mehta) - are located in Malabar Hill are interesting but not well maintained.

The British built a magnificent city within the walls of Fort St. George, just south of South Mumbai. Other excellent examples of colonial architecture from the British rule can be found in the Mumbai University buildings and the High Court.

This is a summary of our short but memorable visit to Mumbai. There is much more to see and experience.

McDonald McAloo Tikki Mumbai India
McDonald's McAloo Tikki - Mumbai, India
More about Mumbai... Mumbai, formally known as Bombay until 1996, is the most populous city in India and the fourth most in the world with a metropolitan population of about 21 million. It is the commercial and entertainment capital of India. Mumbai is one of the top 10 commerce centers in the world generating 5% of India's GDP, 25% of its industrial output, and 70% of the India’s capital transactions. Mumbai’s deep natural harbor makes it one of the predominant port cities in the country with 70% of India’s maritime trade.

colors of india flowers flower
Colors of India!
Travel tips... Mumbai has three main seasons - hot and humid Summer (March to May), Monsoon (June to September), and Winter (milder summer). The best time to visit is during the winter between November and February. The weather was wonderful when we visited in February. Locals in Mumbai can manage to speak in broken English and those working in corporates and belonging to middle, upper middle and high class can speak fluent English.

Because of our short stay in Mumbai, we stayed at the nice affordable Hotel Bawa International hotel near Mumbai’s domestic airport. The Club Rooms are very nice and the staff is helpful. Hiring a driver for a tour of South Mumbai can be arranged. We liked the Green House Indian restaurant about 15 minute walk from the hotel. If we stayed longer in Mumbai, we would have considered staying in South Mumbai where more of the tourist sites are located.

Staying healthy in India... Most visitors choose bottled water that can be purchased reasonable cheaply. When buying water from street vendors, make sure the lid is sealed and not refilled with tap water. Make sure you rinse your toothbrush with bottled water and keep your mouth closed when showering. It is also wise to be careful what you eat. Outside of major tourist hotels and restaurants, particularly risky things to stay away from are raw leafy vegetables and egg-based dressings like mayonnaise, and minced meat. To be safe, you should stick to boiled, baked, fried, or peeled goods.

Hindu indian wedding women woman girl girls mumbai india
Hindu Wedding - Mumbai, India
Some history... Mumbai is made up a seven islands. Modern history of Mumbai started in 1498 when the Portuguese took over and later handed it over to England in 1661, who leased the islands to the East India Company. They built the docks, the trading posts, and the fort that would become the center of the city transforming Bombay (now called Mumbai) into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea. They also started off the long process of reclaiming land joining the islands, which went on until the 1960’s. The port attracted industries and successive waves of migration. The last British troops left India following India’s independence in 1948. In the 1980’s, high labor costs and unrest forced the closure of many textile mills and the city went into a decline from which it started recovering in the late 1990’s.

Please see our other 6 travel blog posts about incredible India:

Taj Mahal, India

Goa Beaches, India

Cremations on Ganges River - Varanasi, India

New Delhi, India (Capital)

Khajuraho (Kama Sutra Temples) - Orchha, India

Jaipur (The Pink City), India

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1 comment:

  1. Hey...it is great to see a post on the city that we live in! I am glad that you saw an Indian wedding. It is a riot of colours - isn't it?
    Here is a link to our blog that might remind you of your stay in Mumbai!
    http://tickingthebucketlist.blogspot.in/2014/10/south-mumbai-tourism-in-our-own-city.html

    ReplyDelete

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