Hi folks, I come from Mumbai, a vibrant and pulsating city. Its description of ‘city that never sleeps’ is true in the real sense; the glittering skyline, never-ending stream of vehicles, crowded trains all of them just fail to remind us of the lateness of the hour.
A tourist to the city should start his sightseeing tour from the iconic ‘Gateway of India’. This spot, which is normally a must include the site in every school tour became a spot to relive my school memories as five of us friends met here, together after twenty years to catch up on past times like giggly youngsters. All of us who are spread across the globe clicked our first snap together after two decades against the backdrop of a lighted ‘Gateway of India’. If you are lucky enough, you can also enjoy the amazing festivals in Mumbai.
Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra and the commercial and tourist hub of India. English, Hindi, and Marathi are the main languages that enable the tourist to get by as he visits the sites of heritage value, places of religious importance and many more.
Ideal Time to Visit
Mumbai is blessed with a humid climate and hence it is best to avoid visiting Mumbai in summers and in the rains. The ideal times to visit are the months of November- March.
Festivals of Mumbai
Immersion Times for Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha who is the god of Mumbai masses has the Siddhi Vinayak temple dedicated to him and this temple is said to fulfill the wishes of many a devotee. The festival marking his arrival, that is Ganesh Chaturthi cuts across all religions, castes etc. and is the most important festival that is celebrated with much pomp and fervor. The immersion times of the idols bring all crowds to the various beaches of Mumbai like the Girgaum beach located in South Mumbai to the Juhu, Aksai, Madh beaches which lie in the suburbs.
Places of tourist interest-Heritage sites
The ‘Gateway of India’ as you know is a triumphal arch built to commemorate the visit of King George V to India in 1911. The Elephanta Caves, which lie 9 nautical miles into the sea is a heritage site, famous for 7th Century hewn rock-cut cave temple of Lord Shiva and accessible through a ferry ride from ‘Gateway of India’.
In front of this famous landmark is the world-renowned Hotel “Taj Mahal Palace”. Watching the colorful ships bobbing up and down in the Arabian Sea from the
cool interiors of ‘Sea Lounge’, a restaurant on the first floor of the hotel is a luxury by itself. Moving towards the Chatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus which itself is a wonderful piece of architecture takes about few minutes by road. I must say that this area is the hub of heritage spots in Mumbai. The Prince of Wales Museum, which is now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalya, Town Hall housing Asiatic Society of Mumbai, Rajabai Clock Tower and the Mumbai High Court are all worth a look.
Places of Religious interest
The religious minded can have their pick from the varied and beautiful temples, mosques, churches, synagogues present here. The temple which is a must visit is the Mahalakshmi temple, one of the oldest temples in my city. It houses gold adorned beautiful idols of Goddess Mahakali, Goddess Mahalakshmi, and Goddess Maha Saraswati. The vast expanse of the Arabian Sea as its backdrop with the waves lashing the base of the temple makes this place a visual treat. The sole snack center situated here is a haven for all Pakoda lovers.
Other religious sites include the 325 feet tall Global Vipassana Pagoda, located close to the Gorai beach in North-West Mumbai, Haji Ali Dargah situated about 500 yards into the sea off the Worli coast in South- central part of Mumbai, Mount Mary Church in Bandra.
Places to interest the Palate
As far as cuisine goes there is something for everyone’s taste buds. Traditional fare can be obtained from ‘Rajasthali’ or ‘Dakshin Culture Curry’ outlets or from themed restaurants like ‘The Village’, fast food from innumerable Bhel-Puri stalls lining the beaches. For some Mexican and Italian cuisine, you can try the regular ‘Kobe Sizzlers’ and ‘Bombay Blues’ outlets in the suburb of Bandra. People on a budget can go to regular ‘Udipi’ restaurants which open early morning and stay so till late nights.
Other vital tourist spots
Film buffs can’t afford to miss the ‘Film City’ at Goregaon, the hub of ‘Bollywood’ in India. Special permission has to be obtained to watch the actions scenes out here. The neighboring Sanjay Gandhi National Park can get you to see an act of a different kind, lions roaming freely in the campus and you watch them through the lion safaris.
As you go further down onto the Mira-Bhayander road, you come to ‘Essel World’ and ‘Water Kingdom’ Mumbai‘s well-known amusement parks where the adventurous can experience the thrill of challenging rides to their heart’s content.
Some more must-see sites are the Nehru Planetarium at Worli which is a center for the study of astronomy and space science and pulls a lot of visitors through its sky shows. The show timings and the other details are available online, including booking of tickets. You go further down towards South Mumbai to Marine Drive Boulevard, a ‘C’ shaped 3 km stretch of concrete along the coast. This looks best at night when the street lamps light up this curved area, adorning the sea with a glittering necklace giving this area the name of ‘Queen’s Necklace’. A number of restaurants facing the Arabian Sea from Girgaum Chowpatty right up to Marine Drive offering a mix of traditional and international cuisine satisfy the hunger pangs along the way.
Tourist haunts around Mumbai
As for tourist spots around Mumbai, the closest is the hill stations of Lonavala and Khandala about two hours drive from the city. They are most often the weekend haunts of all tired Mumbai residents who want to get a breather over the weekend to come back rejuvenated for the following week.
For shopping, the most favorite haunts of all tourists here are Fashion Street at M.G. Road and Linking Road at Bandra which sells shoes, imitation jewelry, and ready-made clothes at bargain prices. Chor Bazaar is the place for antique lovers besides the innumerable malls which are dotted across the city.
How to travel around Mumbai?
Any person who wants to cover the maximum tourist spots has to plan his itinerary based on the Mumbai map. Various cab services, of which few are given below along with their contact numbers and rates:
Tab Cab: +912263636363
Meru Cab: +912244224422
Mega Cab: +9192242424242
Travel charges are the same for all three cab services. They are Rs27 for first km and Rs 20 for subsequent km. The waiting charge is Rs 120/hr for first two and it is Rs 30/hr for the third option. All cabs charge 25% extra between midnight till 5.00 am.
Private cab services operating on 4 hours or 8 hours basis are also available like the Easy Cab; contact no. +912243434343.
Where to stay?
Accommodation can be got in various decent hotels in and around Mumbai airport– domestic as well as international airports. Many 5-star and above-graded hotels exist near the domestic and international airport and in South Mumbai, which is a hub of the tourist spots. Decent accommodations can be got starting from Rs. 2500 -3000 and can go up to Rs. 14,000/- for premium hotels like Taj Mahal Hotel, Grand Hyatt, Oberoi Hotel, ITC Grand Maratha etc. Most of them have their websites and obtaining information on them is pretty simple, today.
Some decent accommodations can be reached at:
Hotel Suba Palace:
Contact no. – 022 2202 0636 Location- Near Gateway of India
Best Western Hotel Sahil:
Contact no.- 022 2308 1421 Location- 5 min drive from prime railway station, Mumbai Central
Contact no.- +91 22 6647 1000 Location- 2 km from the domestic airport of Mumbai, Santacruz (East)
Whatever I say will always be less for Mumbai; you need to come here to experience Mumbai.