Mumbai, earlier known as Bombay, is the capital of Maharashtra and the largest city of India.
There are two different stories on how Mumbai/Bombay got its name . According to one Bombay got its name from ‘Bom Bahia’, meaning “Beautiful Bay”, given by a Portuguese and this was later popularized as Bombay by the British. Another story relates to the current name Mumbai, the name came from “Mumba”, a local Hindu Goddess “Mumbadevi”, and “Aai”, stands for “mother” in Marathi.
In 1995 the name was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in all the books.
Mumbai is home to over 20 million people, and is classified as one of the most populous metropolis in the world. Mumbai is also the financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India.
My Top List of Places to Visit
Gateway of India: In 1911 the governor of Mumbai, Sir George Sydenham Clarke laid the foundation stone of the Gateway of India to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. The Gateway of India had great significance for the British Empire and serves as a memento of British Colonial rule over India. This is one of the major tourist spots of Mumbai.
Tip: Take a cruise to get the amazing views of the monument from the sea.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: Situated next to the Gateway of India, The Taj Mahal Palace hotel was constructed in 1903 for the British arriving first time in India. When it opened, the hotel boasted a series of firsts: American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers. The building was also the first in Bombay/Mumbai to be lit by electricity. Eventually, it also ended up having the city’s first licensed bar, India’s first all-day dining restaurant, and the country’s first international discotheque.
Famous for its architecture, class, uniqueness and always being on pricey side, The Taj Mahal Palace hosted history’s biggest names including Indian Maharajas/Nawabs and foreigner Kings, Queens & Prince and so on.
Tip: Have afternoon tea at the hotel, which is serviced between 3:30pm to 6:30pm
Haji Ali Dargah: Constructed in 1431 in the memory of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah, a wealthy merchant who gave up all his possessions before making a pilgrimage to Macca. Haji Ali died during his journey to Macca and miraculously the casket carrying his body floated back to the shores of Worli and got stuck in the rocky islet. The Dragah is build at the same spot.
The islet is linked to the city by a narrow causeway. The Dargah is only accessible at the times of low tides, as during the high tide the causeway submerges in the water.
Tip: Visit on Friday if you want to hear the devotional singing, and have a fruit cream at famous Haji Ali Juice Bar.
Sri Siddivinayak Temple: Officially the “God” of Mumbai, this temple is devoted to “Lord Ganesha”. SiddiVinayak means ‘who grants your wish’, the temple was built in 1801. The temple is very famous among many dignitaries, politicians and ‘Bollywood’ stars who visit the temple to seek blessing of Elephant Headed God of Wisdom.
The temple is so famous and gets very crowded on the weekends or on festival days that they have a web site dedicated to ‘On Line Darshan’ of God’s statue and prayers.
Tip: Visiting from overseas and squeezed by time, do book your Darshan online to bypass the waiting line.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly known as Victoria Terminus):
Another masterpiece of British Era and a UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in 1887 to commemorate Golden Jubliee of Queen Victoria.
It took 10 years to complete the construction work and was built as the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsular Railways. The first passenger train ran from here to Thane initiating the operation of Indian Railways.
Mahalaxmi Racecourse: Modeled on the Caulfield Racecourse (Melbourne), it was built in 1883. The track is oval shaped with 2400 straight chutes. This is a must visit place for race enthusiastic, and the racing season in Mumbai starts from November till April. The racecourse can host up to 2000 people. The racecourse Grandstand is included in the ‘Heritage Structures of India’. When not in the racing season, the general public is allowed on the grounds for jogging and other recreational activities.
Other spots to see while in Mumbai
Chowpatty Beach: One of the famous public beaches of Mumbai, very well known for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and shooting location of several Bollywood movies
Tip: Want to enjoy street food of Mumbai? Visit the Chowpatty beach for yummy Pav Bhaji, Vada Pav, Bhel Poori and other local treats.
Marine Drive: ‘C’ shaped road along the coast, which links Nariman Point to Malabar Hill. This is situated upon the reclaimed land and hosts various top end hotels, business district and other commercial enterprises and residential.
Colaba: South part of Mumbai, famous since the British era offers lots of shopping options and restaurants. If one doesn’t mind the crowds, walk through the narrow lanes and bargaining this is one of the best place to shop.
Tip: Have a lunch or drink at famous Leopold Café. This was also mentioned in Gregory David Roberts novel ‘Shantaram’ as his favorite hang out place.
Essel World: A theme park offering a variety of rides to individuals of all ages. Along with rides the park offers Ice Skating rink, bowling alley, amusement and several eating places.