Oh Mumbai, the city of dreams. This city has long captured the hearts of many, beckoning millions of immigrants to come and chase their dreams. All the people I’ve met who have moved from Mumbai to elsewhere tell me that there is simply no other place quite like it. Mumbai is just different. And when I ask if they would like to go back, they tell me “yes!”.
So what exactly is it about the city that makes it so special? I used to wonder the same until I visited the city on a short trip. I began to understand people’s attachment to it. There is something about Mumbai that makes it special, something that makes it different.
Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, is located on India‘s western coast next to the Arabian Sea. It is a port city. The land that is now Mumbai was once made up of seven different islands and the city as we know it today came to exist through a series of land reclamation processes.
Places to Visit: Mumbai has no shortage of exciting places. Some of the main attractions include:
Marine Drive: This is a road running along the Arabian Sea and is a natural bay. Marine Drive is famous for being a great place to watch sunsets and is beautiful at night when the city lights up. It is also known as the Queen’s Necklace, because at night the streetlights along the winding road seem to form a pearl necklace when viewed from above. Chowpatty Beach, famous for its bhelpuri, is located at the northern end of Marine Drive.
Elephanta Caves: These caves are located on Elephanta Island in Mumbai Harbour, 10 kilometers east of Mumbai. There are two groups of caves, one consisting of five Hindu caves and the other of two Buddhist caves. The island was named by the Portuguese as an elephant statue was the first thing they saw on their arrival to the island. The identity of the original cave builders is still a topic of debate.
The Gateway of India: This is Mumbai’s most visited tourist attraction and is a monument built by the British during their rule. It used to be a landing spot for people arriving here by boat, and so, was the first thing newcomers to the city would see. It is also known as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai.
The Hanging Gardens: Also known as the Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, these terraced gardens are located at the top of Malabar Hill and boast of a display of hedges carved into different animals, as well as a great sunset watching spot.
Other popular attractions include Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Siddhivinayak Temple, Powai Lake, Fashion Street, Essel World, Chor Bazaar, and Crawford Market.
Cuisine & Culture: Mumbai is famous for its street food, including Vada Pav, Bhelpuri, Panipuri, and Dabeli. Street vendors usually put their own creative spins to Chinese, South Indian, Punjabi, and other cuisine, making for unexpectedly delectable new flavours and dishes. Apart from street food, Mumbai has many restaurants, the names and reviews of which can be found at zomato.com
Although some residents of Mumbai are indeed antagonistic towards non-Maharashtrians and non-Marathi speakers; Mumbaikars (as they are known) are greatly appreciative of people from all cultures and backgrounds. With a city full of immigrants, people are very accepting and usually helpful as well.
Modes of Transport & Best Time to Visit: Getting to Mumbai is fairly easy, since one can choose from going by air, water, or road.
There are many options for getting around Mumbai as well. One can opt for going by the legendary Mumbai trains (although these are very crowded and do not make for a very pleasant experience), metro, bus, taxi, or auto-rickshaw.
From June to September it is monsoon season in Mumbai. Normal life in the city is often disrupted by heavy floods, so visiting at this time is not a great idea if one wants to explore the city. During the rest of the year, however, especially during winter, Mumbai’s climate is very pleasant.
All in all, Mumbai makes for a great experience. Make sure you visit, but be careful not to leave your heart behind!