Over the years, several epithets have been coined to define Mumbai. ‘The Land of the Great Indian Dream’; ‘The Financial Nerve Centre of India’; ‘Bollywood Land’. But I have a personal favourite to describe this city which is constantly speeding at fifth gear – ‘Maximum City’. Nobody can say they’ve had the complete Mumbai experience. It is hard to make such a claim in a city that changes its hues ever so often – contradicting you every step of the way. So, when you venture to Mumbai here is our list of must-visit Top Attractions in Mumbai.
Visit Gateway of India and Elephanta Caves
Few landmarks symbolize the spirit of Mumbai more evocatively than the Gateway of India. Built using yellow ballast and reinforced concrete, the building is a convergence of Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture. Located adjacent to the majestic Taj Mahal Palace, the Gateway is also the starting point for ferries heading towards the ancient Elephanta Caves. The 50-minute boat ride amidst the breezy Mumbai winds is an experience in its own right. Once at the Caves, don’t forget to check out Trimurti, a masterpiece sculpture etched on the back walls.
Dabbawala, meaning a person who carries a container, is the term given to the thousands of men responsible for transporting and delivering around 200,000 lunch boxes of freshly cooked food to the city’s office workers every day. This unique concept was started to meet the needs of British rulers. However, it’s now continued on to service Indian businessmen who can’t get home for lunch.
Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat
This massive open air laundry provides an unforgettable glimpse into the inside of the city. Dirty laundry from all over Mumbai is brought here and painstakingly hand washed by the dhobis (washermen) in the seemingly endless rows of concrete troughs. The thousands of dhobis spend hours every day standing up to their knees in water filled with chemicals, manually scrubbing and beating the dirt out of each item of laundry.
Take a Behind the Scenes Bollywood Tour
Bollywood differs from its Hollywood counterpart in several respects – it’s more in-your-face, more dhinchak. Which is why it’s always interesting to check out what’s happening behind the camera in Bollywood’s mega studios. In these tours, you’ll be taken to studios like Film City or Mehboob Studio where you can see technicians at work, have a peek at stars’ makeup rooms and get a chance to meet the stars themselves. Post-meal, you’re taken for a drive past the homes of, say a Shahrukh Khan or an Amitabh Bachchan.
Kala Ghoda Art Precinct
Kala Ghoda, meaning “Black Horse” in reference to a statue that was once located there, is Mumbai’s cultural center. This crescent-shaped stretch is home to Mumbai’s best art galleries and museums. It’s also filled with cultural spaces, including some wonderful pavement galleries. Stroll around at leisure, but be sure to visit the acclaimed Jehangir Art Gallery. Every year in February, the Kala Ghoda Association hosts a nine day Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, which is interesting.
Evening Stroll on Marine Drive
The casual nightlife of Mumbai comes alive at Marine Drive post 6 pm. Sitting on the slabs, gazing at the glittering Mumbai cityscape looming over the sea is a very memorable affair. Come here to witness the twinkling lights of the city after the GCI concert ends for a stroll. Nip into the Bade Miyan restaurant in Colaba for a delicious tikka or roll, followed by a good night’s sleep at one of these hotels in Colaba. This is an iconic attraction of Mumbai!
Street Shopping: Colaba Causeway, Fashion Street, Linking Road
If there’s a generous mix of shopaholism and bargain-hunting in your blood, street shopping in Mumbai will not disappoint. A great place to start is the Colaba Causeway, where you get literally everything from books and handicrafts to antiques, jewellery and clothes. Hit the Leopold Café afterwards for a well-deserved snack break. Or you could check out Fashion Street, a popular haunt of college students. Linking Road is where East meets West, hippie meets chique and KFC meets Elco Pani Puri.
Take a Ride in the Local Train
Carrying up to 8 million passengers per day, the Mumbai local is the city’s major transport artery. Stuffy, noisy and crowded; one has only to board one of these ‘locals’ to watch the city come together. A popular saying goes, “If you haven’t travelled on a local, you haven’t seen Mumbai yet.”
Visit Haji Ali
Located off the coast of Worli, the Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most visited religious spots in Mumbai. Visitors from all over the world, irrespective of caste, sex and religion come here to pay their respects to the venerable Pir Haji Ali. Numerous myths, legends of miracles and tales of doomed lovers surround this place. Make time to visit the Dargah on Fridays to immerse yourself in the devotional Sufi Qawwali.