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Mumbai Travel Guide

Mumbai Travel Guide

To explore Mumbai is to explore a microcosm of India; it is a colourful and vast city where cultures and religions collide, and magnificent wealth and abject poverty interplay on every street corner:

The largest and most cosmopolitan city in India, a holiday in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is an experience in contrasts, from the glitz and glamour of Bollywood to the terrible poverty of its beggars; from the Gothic splendour of colonialism, to the ornate beauty of Indian architecture; from the palaces and temples that inspire, to the smog, garbage and throngs that hamper the experience. There is nothing dull or tired about Mumbai, and simply soaking up the atmosphere in the streets is sufficient to open the mind and the heart to what this fascinating country is all about.

A holiday in Mumbai is not for the faint-hearted because the sheer size and scope of this city is daunting. Globetrotters who revel in people-watching, and those who enjoy shopping for bargains in chaotic markets are good candidates for a Mumbai holiday. Those keen to party will find that Mumbai has the best nightlife of India's cities. Tourists tend to gravitate first and foremost to the Colaba district, on the southernmost peninsula of the city, for the good hotels and restaurants, and the landmark Gateway to India.

Best time to visit Mumbai

The climate of Mumbai is generally hot and humid throughout the year, but the best time to travel to Mumbai is in the winter months between November and February, when conditions are slightly more bearable. Avoid the monsoon season (between June and September), when your holiday is likely to be swamped by heavy rain and flooding. Read more on Mumbai's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Mumbai

-Pay tribute at the Haji Ali Dargah, a mausoleum and mosque built in 1431.

-Watch the age-old labours of the dhobis at the 'world's largest laundromat', the Dhobi Ghat.

-Learn about Mahatma Gandhi at his old Mumbai headquarters, the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum.

-Wander through the Prince of Wales Museum, learning about India's colonial history.

What to do in Mumbai

-Shop at the colourful Crawford Market and explore the Kalbadevi merchant district.

-Catch the ferry to the awe-inspiring caves on Elephanta Island.

-Explore the Gothic magnificence of Mumbai's colonial Fort Area.

-Stroll along Marine Drive, Mumbai's famous coastal thoroughfare.

Beyond Mumbai

Quite centrally located on the west coast of India, Mumbai is the gateway to the hedonistic pleasures of Goa, the beach paradise of India. However, from Mumbai it is also easy to travel north and experience cities like Udaipur and Jaipur. The well-known Kanha National Park can be found to the east of Mumbai.

Getting there

Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, often referred to simply as Mumbai Airport, is the second-busiest airport in southern Asia. It is located 18 miles (29km) north of Mumbai and receives direct flights from London and New York. Get more information on Airports in Mumbai.

Did you know?

-It is estimated that by 2020 Mumbai will be home to 27 million people, making it the second largest city in the world after Tokyo.

-Mumbai holds the record for the highest rainfall of any city in a single day.

-Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling, who wrote Kim and The Jungle Book, was born in Mumbai.


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Taj Mahal Hotel © Jugalkishore Verma

Situated on a peninsula halfway up the west coast of India, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is India's economic powerhouse, and home to more millionaires than any other city on the Indian subcontinent. As well as being the country's financial capital, Mumbai is also an important port, handling a third of all international trade; and a base for many of India's largest companies. However, among all this wealth and the Bollywood lifestyle are cases of extreme poverty, with almost half of the 21 million-strong population living in slums.

The Portuguese established this old Hindu city as a colony in 1509. In 1661, it passed to England as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza when she married Charles II, and became a vital trading base for the East India Company and later the Crown. The centre of Imperial Bombay, the city contains a breathtaking array of High Victorian buildings and is reminiscent of a prosperous 19th-century English industrial city. The fascinating range of architectural styles reflects the British passion for the Gothic and demonstrates the wealth, panache and confidence of British Bombay. Prosperity has always been considered more important than religious homogeneity in Mumbai, and this is reflected in the range of places of worship throughout the city: churches and cathedrals sit alongside countless mosques, and Hindu and Buddhist temples.

Like many Indian cities, the streets of Mumbai are congested with cattle, carts and motor vehicles, and the air is thick with smog and the sound of horns. But despite this, the city has much to offer, and those en route to Goa should take time to discover Mumbai's colourful and fascinating history, as well as its vibrant, energetic and friendly people.

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