Mumbai, the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra, is a spectacular paradox of chaos and hope, glamour and squalor, modernity and tradition. Famously known as the City of Dreams, Mumbai – formerly known as Bombay – Mumbai is a beautifully blended melting pot of cultures and lifestyles.
The city soaks in everything into its fabric, making it its very own. From upcoming actors struggling to make it big on the silver screen; from Bolly superstars to big industrialists to tribes of fisherman and slum dwellers, Mumbai is a city that proudly boasts of stories from different walks of human survival.
One of the main centres in the country of art, culture, music, dance and theatre, Mumbai is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city that has been running for years solely on the indomitable spirit of the Mumbaikars.
Marine Drive is the most easily identifiable landmark associated with Mumbai and is indicative of the glamor and glitter of the city. It is essentially 3.6 km long, arc-shaped boulevard along the South Mumbai coast that starts at the southern end of Nariman Point and ends at Girgaum Chowpatty, popularly known as Chowpatty Beach. The coast wraps the Arabian sea and is the best place in Mumbai to watch the sunset or even to just take a leisurely stroll by the sea any time of the day or night. At night, when the whole coastline lights up, it justifies its other moniker i.e. Queen’s Necklace.
The whole curve of the coastline, shielded with palm trees makes for a spectacular view at night – you can go to either end of Marine Drive after sunset and see the lights glowing in a perfect arc all along the coast. People come to walk here in the evening to experience the brilliant sunset. It is also one of the places people visit late at night, and you will find vendors selling chai and cigarettes at all hours. The sound of the waves, a view of the Mumbai skyline and the starry sky easily make Marine Drive one of the most romantic spots in the city.
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is, without doubt, one of the most popular tourist hotspots of Mumbai. Sitting proudly on the Apollo Bunder, it overlooks the Arabian Sea. It is one of the defining monuments of the city of Mumbai and was built in the year 1924. The construction was undertaken by the famous architect George Wittet, to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. The imposing structure of the monument is a beautiful confluence of Indian, Arabic and Western architecture and has become a popular tourist hub in the city. It is also the starting point of a number of ferry services that ply to the historic Elephanta Caves.
Nicknamed ‘Mumbai’s Taj Mahal’, the foundation of this landmark was laid in 1911 and it was inaugurated 13 years later in 1924. The structure in itself is a made of yellow basalt and solid concrete and is embellished with numerous Muslim and Hindu motifs as well. The basalt arch of the Gateway served as the entry and exit access to India through waterways before independence and was the exit point from where the last British ship left India for England. There are statues of Swami Vivekananda and Chhatrapati Shivaji that have been installed near the Gateway as well. The view from the sea of the Gateway complex, especially at night is quite ethereal and beautiful. The Gateway of India is thus, not only a historic artefact but an example of marvellous architecture in itself!
Juhu beach is the longest beach in Mumbai and the most popular among tourists as well. It is renowned for its wide variety of street food that has a typical Mumbai flavour and is sweet and sour. The surrounding area of Juhu is one of the poshest localities in Mumbai and is home to a lot of famous Bollywood and TV celebrities – the most famous being Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow – and it is not rare to spot a celebrity jogging on the beach.
Television shoots are often held and a number of toy-sellers, roasted corn vendors and acrobats attract the eye. While here, you may also visit the iconic ISKCON Temple which is meters away from the beach or watch a theatre performance at the famous Prithvi Cafe. Just taking walk across the beach sand can bring an infinite sense of calm. Although the beach was criticized for being unclean, efforts by BMC have significantly improved the scenery in the past few years.
The Siddhivinayak Temple in the Prabhadevi area is a revered shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is one of the most significant and frequented temples in mumbai. This temple was built in the year 1801 by Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil. The couple did not have any children of their own and decided to build the Siddhivinayak temple so as to fulfil the wishes of other infertile women. Interestingly, the statue of Lord Ganesha here is believed to be self-manifested and grants wishes.
The Temple has a small sanctum housing the idol of Shri Ganesha, which is about two and a half feet wide and made out of a single piece of black stone. The temple has attained a popular status not only because it is believed that the Ganesha in the temple is especially revered, but also because of its popularity with Film stars and the bigwigs of the industry. It is also the richest temple in Mumbai as it begets INR 100 Million in donations each year from devotees across the world.
Haji Ali Dargah
Situated on the backdrop of a beautiful view of the Arabian sea is the shrine of Haji Ali, dedicated to the wealthy merchant turned who gave up his worldly belongings and turned into Muslim Sufi saint after a trip to Mecca. Haji Ali Dargah is located on a small islet that is off the southern coast of Mumbai near Worli. People from all walks of life and religions come here to seek blessings. The Dargah can only be accessed during the low tides via a causeway that is surrounded by the sea on all sides. At night, the view of the shrine lit up in the distance with nothing but the sea around it, is a divine sight.
Built of glass, the tomb is a beautiful illustration of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. A marble courtyard contains the central shrine. The tomb within the mosque is roofed by a brocaded red and green cloth, supported by an exquisite silver frame and marble columns. The main hall has marble pillars engraved with creative mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in varied designs and Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah. As per Islamic customs, there are different praying rooms for ladies and gents.