Maharashtra: A Tourist's Guide to Mumbai - The City of Dreams



Mumbai (Earlier known as Bombay ) :

How the name Mumbai actually came into existence? It’s true that a confusion hovers around the naming convention of Mumbai. Some opine that the name of Mumbai has been derived from the holy deity Mumba. Mumbai was known as Boa Vida previously and it was found from the inscription of Jaode Castro. Later on, in 1626, John Viau had named the city as Bombay. British used to like the splendor of the city a lot. Hence, they decided to name the city as the “London of the East”.

The slender street in between the Reserve Bank of India and Custom’s House is famous for the Head Quarter of Naval Commando. Dowry paper was signed and it was introduced for the first time in this house. Indians can get inside the house to watch its magnificence on the first Sunday of every month.

Spread across a territory of 5 km, Mumbai was built on seven contiguous Islands, such as, Kolaba, Fort, Baikala, Parel, Orley, Matunga and Mahim. More than 457 fishermen families used to stay on the banks of the ocean. The city had got its world famous shape and looks, due to the artistic touch given by the immensely talented architect Gerald Aungier, Father of Bombay.

The Indian industrial hub of India, Mumbai, is pulling crowds from various parts of the world. Towering edifices on the banks of the Arabian ocean decorate the entire city. Slowly and surely the ocean is moving away and city is gradually expanding. Population is also getting increased day by day. Mumbai has been recently named as the sixth modern city in the world. Multi National Companies are coming in numbers to set up their business on the ocean banks. Western cultures and traditions are prominently visible on the lifestyles of the city dwellers. It is an expensive city but transportation has never been a problem for the inhabitants. Trains move in and around the city and connect various parts of the city.

Shivaji Terminus and Church Gate draw attention of the tourists being there in the middle of the city. Mumbai Central is located few kilometers away from the city. Three different railway stations are surrounding the city of Mumbai and are very important spots for the residents. Buses are also carrying huge numbers of tourists from one corner of the city to the other.

City dwellers of Mumbai are not used to experience the weather of winters. The minimum temperature of Mumbai is 24 degrees Celsius. A good amount of rainfall can be seen during June-September. The average rainfall of the city is 85 mm. The best time to visit Mumbai is during November- February. You can enjoy a cool breeze during this time of the year.

The 10 days long Ganesh Chathurthi festival is celebrated with utmost zeal in Mumbai. People flock to the city in abundance during this time to witness the worship of the holy Hindu God, Ganesh. The procession that runs all the way to the Chowpatty beach on the last day of the occasion is a pleasing sight to look at.

Besides gigantic celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi, Gokulashtami, Dussehra, Diwali, Persian New year and Muharram celebrations are praiseworthy as well.

Shivaji Terminus, the head quarter of central railway, is now popularly known as the Victoria Terminus. Italian Gothic architecture is significantly noticeable in this station. The designing and planning behind this captivating station was done by Frederic Dublu Stevens. This marvelously designed railway station resembles the St Pancras railway station of London. This colossal railway station of Mumbai was built way back during 1878-1887. The first steam train of India had started on 16thApril, 1853 from CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). The 4 meters tall idol of Queen Victoria at the entrance of the Victoria Terminus recalls the memories of British era. A huge clock of 3.15 meters of diameter is positioned right at the top of the idol. V.T has now become one of the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.

Another riveting creation of Frederick Dublu Stevens is the V-shaped Municipality building, erected in 1893. Well adorned walls with the Italian Gothic fine art forms are worth watching. Domes of this edifice along with the 71.5 meters tall peak are noteworthy. Nearby Hajj House is another class-apart attraction of Mumbai. Take a walk to the adjoining shrine or mosque of Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin. Tourists are not only moved watching the excellent architectural panache of the shrine but also get astonished gazing at 4 of its neighboring silver doorways. The inner walls of the shrine are well decorated with Koran verses in golden shades.

The Fatehti mosque is established on 17 contiguous vaults.

The riveting Flora fountain is placed at the five points. The fountain was dedicated to Sir Bartle Frere, the Governor of Mumbai and was designed by James Forsyth in 1869. Later on, it was named as Martyrs Square and was dedicated to the deceased soldiers. The homes around the area depict Gothic architectural flair and all of these roadside homes were erected during the golden period of Frere. The idol of Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian member of the British parliament, was built on the premise of the parliament.

The St. Tomas Cathedral, located right beside the fountain, was built during 1642-1718 and showcases the pretty Gothic architectures like many other buildings of Mumbai. Two historical chairs kept in the cathedral have enormous historical values and are recollecting the memories of 5thGeorge and Queen Mary. Innumerable shrines are dotted in and around as well.

The neighboring snake-shaped street would take you to the Church Gate station. Don’t forget to walk to the rich library of Royal Asiatic Society in Town Hall to gaze at the mind blowing Doric architectural elegance. The station had been shaped spending a hefty 6000 pounds during 1820-1833. Doric pillar, coins of Akbar, Inferno of teeth and many more appealing substances, brought all the way from London, are kept and maintained in the Town hall.

Ionic façade Mint had been constructed during 1824-29 on the ruins of the singular and unique Bombay Castle which had got its shape after filling some portions of the Arabian ocean in 1823. The towering Reserve Bank is positioned right at the opposite side of the Bombay Castle.

Don’t miss the opportunity to watch the Customs House, built in 1720 in Portuguese Barrack and Mumbai dock.

The famous Museum of Mumbai is located at the southern side of the M.G Road. There is a memorial of Raj Kumar. The commemorative was erected in 1905 to recall the old memory of his trip to India. The Indo-Sarasenic architecture is prominently visible on the domes and on the structure. The domes, made up of shimmering tiles, demonstrate Persian and Asian architectural touch. Previously, it was popularly known as the Prince of Wales Museum. The huge collection of this museum can be divided into three broad categories, such as, Art, Archeological and Nature Sciences. The assortment of items, kept on the shelves of the museum, showcase rare and atypical substances of the Mughal and Rajput dynasties. Miniature collections and various industrial materials of both of these two dynasties are drawing attention of the crowds. The anthologies of Elephanta, Gandhar and Amaravati along with the historical collections of Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties are upholding the primeval traditions. Jakhimurthi of Bengal, substances of teeth of elephants and porcelain, weapons and the miniature model of Funeral Tower of License are amusing the groups of holiday makers who visit the museum. The museum has a huge collection of various substances of the family of Tata. The items of Ratan Tata are the special allurements of the museum. The museum is closed on Mondays.

The Jahangir Art Gallery, positioned on the premise of the Museum complex, is pulling huge crowds who love to take a look at the ancient collections of portraits. The exhibition of the Modern Indian art pictures is one of the biggest charms of the museum. People assemble on the premise to watch the picture collection in numbers. The Art gallery was inaugurated with paramount interest on 21stJanuary, 1952. The Samovar Café on the premise has been a sought after place over the years to the crowds for getting rid of their tiredness.

St. Andrews Church, at the back end of the museum, was built long back in 1819 and is a holy destination of many. The peak of the renowned church was hammered severely by lightning after its construction. Hence, it was restructured and reshaped in 1827. An ice room was there, right beside the church previously in the circular edifice way back in 1840. The well maintained ice storage used to keep ices which were brought all the way from America. Later on, in 1880, ice manufacturing had been started in Mumbai itself.

S P Mukherjee Chowk, which was previously known as Wellington Circle, can be accessed crossing the museum. It is, however, more popular with the name Regal Chowk. Regal Cinema is situated in front of the Chowk. It was a summer retreat for the royal family in the past.

The American Express, Cottage Industries Emporium and Bombay Yacht Club are there around the chowk. It has now become a congested place though.

The Bombay Natural History Society in Hornbill house, at the opposite side of the Regal, has a collection of foliage and stuffed animals which are more than hundreds years old.

The Gateway of India, a popular tourists’ destination of India, is not very far away from the Chowk. It is the entrance point through which huge numbers of foreigners flock to India using water transports. It recalls the historical date of 1911 when the 5thGeorge and his queen visited India through this grand gateway. In memory of that visit the colossal White doorway was built. The well established 26 meters tall pillar, constructed by George Wittet, resembles the structure of Arc de Triomphe of Paris. A class-apart commingling of Gujarati and Muslim architectures make this a very special enticement of Mumbai. Built in 1924, the pillar, illustrates the excellent talents of Mural architects as well. British force had left India on 28the February, 1948 through this historical gateway. The reflection of sunrays on the gateway during sunrise and sunset would impress everyone. The panoramic grandeur of Arabian ocean and Mumbai harbor can be prominently witnessed from the Gateway of India. You can explore the Arabian ocean for 1 hour hiring a boat. You can visit the enamoring Elephanta cave riding on a boat as well. Idols of Shivaji on a horse and Swamy Vivekandada are impressive to look at. Shivaji ground is there as well. Plenty of innocent people had lost their lives when the entire territory was mercilessly hit by a group of terrorists in 2003. That memory is still fresh in the minds of the inhabitants.

The Taj Intercontinental Hotel is a lavish place for wealthy people and is located at the opposite side of the Shivaji ground. The Taj Hotel depicts a classical blending of western and continental architectures. Tourists, who enjoy their stay at the Taj hotel, can at the same time get the pleasure in watching the Gateway of India and port of Mumbai. Both the Gateway of India and port are positioned on an ancient Island, called Colaba.

The Colaba Causeway, at the southern side of the Taj Hotel is meeting with the sea at the Sasoon Dock, about 1.5 km away from the International Taj Hotel.

The wholesale fish market is located in Sasoon. Taking pictures of the fish market is strictly prohibited.

St. Johns or Afghan Church which has a 58 meters tall crest recollects the memories of the deceased British soldiers who had taken their last breaths here in Sindh (1838) and Afghan (1843) wars. Manmandir, Lighthouse, church and Colaba point are the other contiguous coveted spots. Series of homes at the roadsides demonstrate the wood carvings which are the evidences of Gujarati art forms. Countless numbers of shops and city dwellers make this place a crowded one. A number of ordinary hotels are scattered in and around the place as well.

The adjoining road would take you directly to the banks of the well-stretched-out Arabian ocean. The Nariman Point which had been hit sternly by the terrorists recently can be seen at the roadside. Change your direction from the Back Bay and move towards the world famous Marine Drive which is now popularly known as Netaji Subhash Road. The trip of Mumbai would be incomplete if you haven’t enjoyed a long walk on the well-spread out premise of the Marine Drive.

The residence of Sir Evan Nepean, the British Governor General, looks like a pretty crown on top of the Malabar hills. It has now become the Raj Bhawan which can be watched nicely from the Banganga Tank. The street to the Malabar Hills is truly amazing. If you drive through this road, then you would be able to watch the Bungalow of Railway Manager, Residence of Chief Minister and Jinnah House at the road side. Towering modern edifices at one side of the road and blue waves of Arabic Ocean at the other side would appease your soul for sure. Cross the fly over to reach the Gymkhana Ground.

Malabar Hills had been constructed at the northern side of the Back Bay. Walkeshwar Shiva temple, built in 1000, on the way to the Malabar Hills is a divine paradise for spiritual crowds. Located at the southern tip of the Malabar Hills, the sanctified Babulnath temple is a 200 years old allurement. Back Bay and stony sea beach are situated at both the sides of the hills. The temple had been reconstructed in 1715 after it was demolished by the brutal Portuguese merchants. Khonri Banganga pond is there at the opposite side of the temple. A renowned cremation ground is also there. The consecrated Shwatambar Jain temple, built in 1903, can be accessed on the Mahalabar Hills as well. The temple (2 storied) was made up of white marbles and Jain Tirthankars Rishavdev and Parshanath are residing on the thrones of the Shwatambar temple. The walls of the temple are adorned marvelously and stylishly with the life stories of the Jain Tirthankars.

Taraporewala Aquarium, located at the northern side of Gymkhana, is another crowd puller of Mumbai. The collection of effervescent sea fishes along with innumerable animated aquatic animals would compel you to watch them for a long time. The sight is truly mesmerizing. The source of water for this aquarium is Back Bay. The prime and foremost attraction, however, is the Koran fish. It was Built in 1951.

Buses regularly ply to Taraporewala Aquarium from Marine drive.

The best time to watch the splendor of Marine drive is the evening. It is the time when the entire area along with the roadside homes gets bejeweled with colorful lights. It looks like the hills have been adorned with numerous garlands of diamonds and pearls. Hence, many know this place with the name, Queen’s Necklace. This appealing spot can be best viewed from the Kamala Nehru Park. If you are at Mumbai, then don’t miss the opportunity to watch this impressive vista.

Continue to Tourist's Guide to Mumbai - Part 2