Attractions in Mumbai
Mumbai is big. It’s full of dreamers and hard-labourers, starlets and gangsters, , artists and servants and fisherfolk and crorepatis (millionaires) and lots and lots of people. It has India’s most prolific film industry, some of Asia’s biggest slums (as well as the world’s most expensive home) and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone. Mumbai is India’s financial powerhouse, fashion epicentre and a pulse point of religious tension. It’s even evolved its own language, Bambaiyya Hindi, which is a mix well, everything.
If Mumbai is your introduction to India, prepare yourself. The city isn’t a threatening place but its furious energy. The heart of the city contains some of the grandest colonial-era architecture on the planet but explore a little more and you’ll uncover unique bazaars, hidden temples, hipster enclaves and India’s premier restaurants and nightlife.
Below are some of the most thrilling attractions in Mumbai
Gateway of India
This bold basalt arch of colonial triumph faces out to Mumbai Harbour from the tip of Apollo Bunder. Incorporating Islamic styles of 16th-century Gujarat, it was built to commemorate the 1911 royal visit of King George V, but wasn’t completed until 1924. Ironically, the British builders of the gateway used it just 24 years later to parade the last British regiment as India marched towards independence.
These days, the gateway is a favourite gathering spot for locals and a top place for people-watching. Giant-balloon sellers, photographers, vendors making bhelpuri and touts rub shoulders with locals and tourists, creating all the hubbub of a bazaar. In March, they are joined by classical dancers and musicians who perform during the Elephanta Festival.
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
This gorgeous museum, built in Renaissance revival style in 1872 as the Victoria & Albert Museum, contains 3500-plus objects centering on Mumbai’s history – photography and maps, textiles, books and manuscripts, Bidriware, laquerware, weaponry and exquisite pottery.The landmark building was renovated in 2008, with its Minton tile floors, gilded ceiling mouldings, ornate columns, chandeliers and staircases all restored to their former glory. Contemporary music, dance and drama feature in the new Plaza area, where there’s a cafe and shop.
The 109 Kanheri Caves lining the side of a rocky ravine 6km from the northern park entrance are a big draw. The caves comprise viharas (monasteries), chaityas (halls) and dwellings and were used by Buddhist monks between the 1st century BC and 10th century AD as part of a monastic university complex.
Visit the Elephanta Caves (natively known as Gharapurichi Leni), a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island in Mumbai Harbor. This Great Cave was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve the artwork. The island has two groups of caves – the first is a large group of five Hindu caves, the second, two Buddhist caves. Explore all seven caves on the island, some of which are so small and hidden, that they’re often easily missed. On each wall, admire the complex and astoundingly detailed reliefs and carvings, depicting narratives of the goddess Shiva. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although the identity of the original builders is still a subject of debate. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock.
All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now onlytraces remain.
Haji Ali Dargah
Floating like a sacred mirage off the coast, this Indo-Islamic shrine located on an offshore inlet is a striking sight. Built in the 19th century, it contains the tomb of the Muslim saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Legend has it that Haji Ali died while on a pilgrimage to Mecca and his casket miraculously floated back to this spot.
It’s only possible to visit the shrine at low tide, via a long causeway (check tide times locally). Thousands of pilgrims, especially on Thursday and Friday (when there may be qawwali, devotional singing), cross it daily, many donating to beggars who line the way.
Mumbai has soo much to offer that you’d never exhaust them all.Better yet, we are ready to take you.