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Mumbai

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For other places with the same name, see Bombay (disambiguation).

Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई) [1], earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city in India and the capital of Maharashtra state. Mumbai was originally a conglomeration of seven islands on the Konkan coastline which over time were joined to form the island city of Bombay. The island was in turn joined with the neighbouring island of Salsette to form Greater Bombay. The city has an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million (2005), making it one of the largest cities in the world. It is also home to India's largest slum population. Mumbai looms large as the commercial capital of as it is one of the India's predominant port cities. Mumbai's nature as the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian city is symbolized in the presence of Bollywood within the city, the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries.


Districts

Western and Central, East and West


A visitor to Mumbai's suburbs will quickly learn that the suburbs are divided into "Western" and "Central". He will also hear of a "West" side and an "East" side. Here is a quick explanation for the confused.

  • The Western and Central suburbs are named after the local railway lines that serve the respective areas. The Western and Central Railways are rail lines that serve the western and central parts of India. Both have their headquarters in Mumbai. The Harbour Line is a feeder line that connects the harbour areas to the Central and Western lines. It also provides connectivity to the Northeastern suburbs of Mumbai and onwards to Navi Mumbai. Most of these areas do not lie anywhere close to an harbour.
  • Almost all localities in Mumbai have a "West" side and an "East" side. "West" means west of the railway line and "East" means east of the railway line. For example, Mulund (West) means that the area is to the west of the Mulund railway station. In addresses, West and East are abbreviated, i.e. Mulund(W) and Mulund(E).

Mumbai is a city built in successive waves of migrations. The neighborhoods acquired their character from the communities that settled there first. These neighborhoods are too numerous to list and there is no commonly accepted way to group these neighborhoods into larger districts. But roughly, from the south to the north, this is how the city developed.

The oldest areas of Mumbai. Contains Mumbai's downtown area and is considered the commercial capital of India. The richest neighborhoods in the country are located here, which command among the highest rates in the world. Real estate prices in South Mumbai are comparable to those in Manhattan. This is the primary tourist area of Mumbai and home to most of Mumbai's museums, art galleries, bars, upscale restaurants, and the Gateway of India.
Used to be Mumbai's industrial heartland, but went into decline when the industries did. Now this area has been revamped into a white-collar office location. Home to Mumbai's only zoo, the Worli sea face, and the temple to what people consider the city's guardian deity. As you move north, it morphs into a nice middle-class locality.
Primarily an upper middle-class area, except for Dharavi, which contains Asia's largest slum. This area developed immediately after India's independence, because of a wave of immigration. Part of the migrants were refugees from the partition.
Contains Mumbai's other downtown and is home to those rich who want to have a more peaceful surrounding. It has some beaches. Home to a large Christian community and the city's most famous church. Also this is where the city's two airports are.
This is a solidly middle class bastion. Mulund and Ghatkopar are home to predominantly middle and upper middle class populace, many from the entrepreneurial Gujarati community.
Before the development of Navi Mumbai as a satellite town of Bombay, this area used to be known only for the existence of an atomic research centre. Now this is known for being on the way to Navi Mumbai.
This is where you go to find beaches that are not dirty. Other than this, it is just another victim of Bombay's vast urban sprawl. Contains the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Mumbai's oldest heritage sites: the Kanheri, Mahakali, Jogeshwari, and Mandapeshwar rock-cut temples dating from the 1st century B.C to the 5th century A.D.

Understand

Mumbai is different from the rest of India in pretty much the same way that New York City is different from the United States. The pace of life is more hurried. Time is money. The idea that one can always make a living one way or another is pervasive in this city.

Name

There has been much debate regarding the original name of the city. Some say the current name of the city Mumbai is the original name; and is an eponym derived from "Mumba", the name of the local Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and "Aai", meaning "mother" in Marathi. Others claim Bombay was an anglicized version of Bom Bahia, a name given by the Portuguese to mean "Beautiful Bay" and later made popular by the British as the name of the Bombay state.

The name was officially changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, but the former name is still popularly used by many local residents. There are certainly political overtones to using one or the other. Although Bombay and Mumbai are both used, people who explicitly use "Bombay" generally ascribe to a more tolerant/multicultural worldview whereas "Mumbai" proponents are seen as being more patriotic/Marathi/nationalist/right-wing. In the West, Mumbai has become more commonly accepted in order to avoid controversy. Although Bombay might be the more common name among the city's residents, very few people will be offended if you refer to their city as Mumbai - you will simply be touting the official name. While dealing with locals, it is best to use the current official name to avoid controversy, unless of course you are ready to back up your decision to use Bombay, with a good explanation.

History

Though the seven islands that now make up the city have a long recorded history like any other place in India, their journey to form the city of Mumbai really started in 1498, when the Portuguese took them over from the Sultan of Gujarat. They built a settlement, forts, and churches, (including the strange looking Portuguese Church that stands to this day.) They, however, could not make much of their possession and the seven islands were handed over to England in 1661 as part of the dowry of Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He wasn't very interested in the islands either, and he leased them to the British East India Company for £10 a year in 1668. The East India Company built the docks, the trading posts, and the fort that would form the nerve centre of the city. They also started off the long process of reclaiming land and joining the islands, an activity which went on until the 1960s.

The port attracted industries and the entrepreneurial communities like the Parsis, Gujaratis, and Marwaris (from Rajasthan) migrated and set up trading companies and factories in the late 19th century. Industries attracted migrant labor from different parts of the country. The successive waves of migration shaped the character of the city and its neighborhoods.

The city that owes its existence to the efforts of the British was also the birthplace of the Indian National Congress, which played an overwhelmingly important role in the independence movement. The city whose mills were built by industrialists from across the country is the capital of Maharashtra state, which was carved on linguistic lines for Marathi speakers.

In the 80s, high labour costs and unrest forced the closure of many textile mills and the city went into a decline from which it started recovering only in the late 90s. The high population put a strain on the infrastructure. The rail and road network has been undergoing a steady improvement over the 90s, but because of the magnitude of the task, the roads seem to be perennially under construction. Mumbai has now reinvented itself as a hub for the Service industry.

In January 1993, in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, a wave of riots swept the city, with over 1000 people killed, the vast majority of whom were Muslims. Relations between the city's various ethnic groups have been tense ever since, with several terrorist outrages (see #Stay safe) adding fuel to the fire.

Culture and attitudes

Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India. Compared to the rest of the country, attitudes are quite liberal, though that is not saying much. Because almost everyone is an immigrant, the citizens have learned to tolerate and even like one another. But this tolerance has sometimes broken down. Between the 60s and 80s, there was resentment about the non-Marathi speakers taking away jobs. There were riots in 1991 and 1993 between Hindus and Muslims, but the city managed to recover from these.

Climate

Mumbai has three main seasons — Summer, Monsoon, and Winter (milder summer). The best time to visit is during the winter between November and February. Summer is from March to May with highs in the low to mid 30s (Low 80s to Low 90s Farenheit). It is hot and humid during this time. June to September is the monsoon season when the city is lashed by heavy rain. The city gets flooded two or three times and normal life gets disrupted during this season. Climate is humid pretty much throughout the year, because it is on the coast.

Newspapers

To keep up-to-date on information and happenings in Mumbai, one can purchase any of the local newspapers. All the newspapers have a lot of local entertainment listings. The Times of India has a supplement called Bombay Times. There are also other papers like DNA, Indian Express, Hindustan Times. There are three very good local city tabloids called Mid-Day, Mumbai Mirror, and Afternoon. These papers are city focused and cover a lot of gossip, local news, and have plenty of entertainment listings. One could refer to these papers for any specific activity. In addition, Time Out now has an excellent Mumbai edition each month which can be picked up on street bookshops. It is a little more eclectic than the others listed here. Each newspaper would not cost more than Rs.3, which would be approximately six cents (US). All of these papers have information on arts, dance, eating out, food festivals, events, exhibitions, lectures, movies, theatre listings, concerts, seminars, and workshops.


Get in

By plane

Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA: BOM) (ICAO: VABB)[9] is India's busiest airport and one of the main international gateways to the country. Many international airlines such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Delta & Lufthansa fly into Mumbai. Low-cost carriers such as AirAsia [10] also fly to the city.

The airport consists of two terminals : International Terminal (Terminal 2) and a Domestic Terminal (Terminal 1). Both terminals use the same airspace but are 4km apart. There is a free shuttle bus connecting them.

The Domestic Terminal is further divided into Terminals 1A and 1B. Terminal 1A serves Air India and Kingfisher Airlines. Terminal 1B serves the various private airlines, such as Jet Airways, Indigo, SpiceJet, & GO Air.

The International Terminal is divided into Terminal 2C (Air India and its partner airlines) and Terminal 2A (which serves most of the other international airlines). Terminal 2B is nonoperational at present. Terminal 2C is considerably better than the others. The domestic terminals are undergoing a long overdue upgrade. Terminal 1B now meets international standards and work is going on at Terminal 1A.

Overall, the airport is a bit of a fleapit and immigration is quite slow, although it has improved considerably over the last 2-3 years.

A common scam locals play on tourists is when your taxi cab pulls up to the airport, a man will get your luggage out of the trunk, put it in a cart, push it for you towards the terminal and along the way will ask you for a Rs. 500 baggage fee. This is a lie, there is no baggage fee, and you should tell them no thank you and you kindly take the cart and push it yourself.

Paid parking is available at the airport. The charges are Rs. 60 per four hour block for cars. Longer term parking is available in a "premium" area, but it is hideously expensive, amounting to Rs. 600 per day.


Note that there are no ATM terminals in the international arrival area. In order to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, you will need to bring cash and exchange it for rupees at one of the many moneychangers near the exit. There are prepaid taxi dispatch desks nearby, but they accept only cash, and only rupees.

The airport is 28 km from downtown. Take a prepaid coupon taxi to minimize hassle. Never pay more than Rs. 450-600 for a prepaid taxi. This amount should get you all the way to the southernmost point of Colaba, the main tourist district. While it is possible to take metered taxis to your eventual destination, it is always a safer bet to take the prepaid taxis, in order to avoid being taken to your destination via a longer route, thus increasing the meter reading! While it is not mandatory to pay extra charges for your luggage, a tip of Rs. 50-100 shall always be appreciated.

There are many prepaid taxi offices all in a row as you are exiting the airport, if one offers a very high rate, just walk to the next window and so forth until you find one with a good rate. Go to the taxi office and purchase a coupon to take to the driver. The coupon will have the taxi registration number written on it. Make sure that you get into that very taxi. Do not accept a lift from someone claiming to be a taxi driver as they may charge much higher prices designed to target tourists. The charges will depend on the general area you need to get to and will include all tolls to be paid. Most premium hotels will organize their own cars which is a much better alternative.

While most drivers should not have any problem delivering you to major hotels and intersections, do not assume your driver will be familiar with lesser known hotels etc.. Before departing, make sure you have secured full address of your destination. By taking this extra step, you should avoid any delays.

You can also take a bus/taxi to Vile Parle Station and take a local train from there. Travel 1st class to avoid hassle. Do not try this during the morning rush. It's a good option in the evening, since it's off-peak direction then.

If you are flying from Europe it is generally cheaper to fly from London, and there are many flights daily.

By boat

Numerous travel organizations now offer cruises to Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, etc. Though the cruise industry is still developing, Mumbai can be reached by such cruises.

Mumbai has one of the best natural harbours in the world, handling 50% of the country's passenger traffic and much of India's cargo. It is also an important base for the Indian Navy. Ferries from Ferry Wharf allow cheap access to islands and beaches in the area.

By train

Railways in India

The first commercial railway service began on 16th April 1853 at 3:35PM on its first run between VT (now the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane.

Trains arrive in Mumbai from all over India. The two major lines and one minor line serve different parts of the country. The Central line serves Southern India, Eastern India, and parts of North India. The key stations are Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus, known just as VT), Dadar Terminus, and Kurla Terminus. The Western line connects to the Western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and some parts of North India. The main termini are Mumbai Central and Bandra. The Konkan Railway [11](which is a separately administered and newly built line) travels through the picturesque Konkan coast of Maharastra and is a good way to travel to Goa and mangalore(Which is called the coastal pardise of India). The main reservation offices are at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, and Bandra on the Western line and CST and Dadar on Central line. There are special ticket windows and quotas for foreign tourists. For bookings and tariffs on train tickets to anywhere in India from Mumbai, you can visit the Indian railways website[12].

By car

National highway numbers 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 17, and the Mumbai-Pune expressway radiate from the city providing links to all parts of the country. The road conditions are generally better than in the rest of India.

Distances from Mumbai to various cities:

By bus

Mumbai is well served by buses from destinations inside India.

Get around

Most of Mumbai's inhabitants rely on public transport to and from their workplace due to the lack of parking spaces, traffic bottlenecks, and generally poor road conditions, especially in the monsoon.

By taxi

Taxis are cheap and plentiful ($15-18 should be enough to take you from one end of the city to the other). Most taxis in Mumbai are small-medium sized cars (non air-conditioned), painted black-and-yellow (black on lower body and yellow on roof). You can hail a cab off the streets. However, many are quite rickety, dirty, and carry mechanical fare meters that could be tampered at times and where payment is through a complicated system of calculating meter charge by a certain figure (all taxis are supposed to carry a tariff card that simplifies matters ... Always pay as per the tariff card !!). Also, according to law, a black-and-yellow taxi driver cannot refuse a fare. If a driver does refuse, a threat to complain to the nearest cop usually does the trick. Taxi tariffs and information to lodge complaints are available at [13]

Do ride in a taxi and auto at least once in the city. If you are not used to Indian roads, an autorickshaw ride can be a heart-stopping, death-defying, laws-of-physics-bending adventure in a vehicle that feels like it might fall apart at a speed over 30 km/h with a driver who thinks he's Schumacher.

Some branded cab services are:

Large items of luggage are chargeable at approximately Rs.10 per piece. Refer to the tariff card. If you have extra pieces of luggage, the boot (i.e. trunk) of the taxi will not provide sufficient space - one large suitcase is all that will fit there. Hiring a taxi with a top carrier will be better. Top carriers can accommodate up to three large suitcases. Before starting the journey, ensure that the luggage is securely fastened to the carrier.

Generally, the only way to call for the standard taxi is to hail one on the street. This will not be a problem if you are inside city limits (i.e. North Central Bombay and below). If you are in the suburbs, it will be difficult to find a taxi as they have been out-competed by the cheaper auto-rickshaws. If you don't want to hire an auto, you will have to ask around and find a way to call for a taxi.

Follow the queue system to board a taxi. Quite frequently, tourists and new visitors are mobbed by unscrupulous taxi drivers. Most drivers are honest, but the dishonest ones tend to cluster around railway stations and airports where they can more easily find suckers. Unless you are taking a prepaid taxi, always ask taxis to go by the meter. At the start of the journey, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down fare/meter reading.

Its quite handy to have the Taxi Meter Card issued by The Mumbai Traffic Police. You can access it online at [17]

Complaints can also be lodged online using the same site.

The maximum number of passengers allowed for a trip officially is four — three in the back seat and one in the front. Seat belts are not mandatory for taxi passengers and most standard black and yellow taxis will not have them installed, though the branded ones would have them.

If you travel alone especially in night then always see the meter by yourself and then pay the fare. if you are alone, sit in front so that you can see the meter. Most frauds take place at railway terminuses and at the airport.

One of the common scam is to charge the night fare rate during daytime. You should be careful and read the heading before paying. In some cards, the night fare is red in color and daytime fare is black in color.

The other scam is to swap a 500 rupee note for a 100 rupee note and then ask you pay extra.

By auto-rickshaw

Auto-rickshaws are only allowed to operate beyond Bandra [18] in the western suburbs and beyond Sion in the central suburbs. They are not issued licenses in the downtown areas.

Before departing, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down reading as 1.00. If the the number is higher, insist that the driver flags it down once again. The minimum fare is Rs. 11. The meter remains at 1.00 for the first 2 km and every 0.10 movement indicates approx 200 meters (ie 1.30 for every 0.2 kms). The fare is Rs. 6.5 for every km, except for the first two kms for which it is Rs. 11. A simple way to calculate the fare is to multiply the reading by 13 subtracting 2 and rounding off to nearest rupee to get the fare in rupees. So if the meter shows 2.20, then the fare payable is around Rs. 27. (and its 4.4 km). Similarly a reading of 4.90 would mean you have to pay Rs. 62 (and you traveled approximately 9.8 km). The meter also keeps ticking if you are waiting and/or are stuck in traffic. It's quite handy to have a copy of the meter card issued by The Mumbai Traffic Police.

Auto-rickshaws are slower than cars and have terrible suspensions. Pregnant ladies are most strongly advised not to travel by auto-rickshaws since the combination of rash driving, poor suspensions, and horrible road conditions have quite often led to serious complications. The auto-rickshaw is a slow and uncomfortable vehicle and not recommended for very long distances.

By bus

Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (known as BEST) [19] provides efficient and comprehensive services connecting up all places of the city and the suburbs. Some services also link the city with the extended suburbs like Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Mira-Bhayanadar areas. Seats are almost always occupied. There are bus stops all over the city. There is usually a crowd and and queue. You have to get in through the rear entrance and off at the front. Tickets are issued by a uniformed "conductor" after you get in. Special seats are marked for "Ladies", "Senior Citizens", "Handicapped", "Expectant Women", and "Women with infants". They can get in from the front.

Buses run from 5AM to midnight. Selected routes run beyond these timings, but much less often. Average frequency between buses ranges from five to 30 min depending on the route. Fares are reasonable and buses can be travelled during peak hours, unlike trains which are far too crowded. Some trunk routes do get extremely crowded however. Peak hours also have traffic snarls which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads.

What connects Electric supply and Transport?

BEST got into transport by starting a tram company. Now, of course, it runs buses that run on diesel & CNG, not electricity. The company is still in charge of electricity distribution for South and Central Mumbai.

Buses are numbered and the final destination is marked on the front in Marathi and on the side in English. Generally, buses around the city and trunk routes would be in the 1-199 series. Buses in the western suburbs would be the 200 series while those plying in the central and eastern suburbs would be in the 300 and 400 series. Services to Navi, Mumbai are in the 500 series and buses to the Mira-Bhayander area are in the 700 series. The BEST website has a nifty tool [20] that will help you plan your journey.

BEST has introduced the "DayPass" (Cost for adults — Rs. 15(within city limits), Rs. 20(Suburbs) and Rs. 25(across Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai and Thane) -- for children it's less), a ticket valid all day (until midnight) on all buses except Express and A/C services.

By train

Suburban Rail Network

Most people travel in Mumbai using the Suburban Rail Network commonly referred to as "Locals". Mumbai has an extensive network, with three lines — the Western Line, the Central Main Line, and the Harbour Line. Mumbai is a linear city and the Western Line travels from Churchgate to Virar via Mumbai's Western Suburbs. The Central Main Line travels from Mumbai CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), aka VT Victoria Terminus to Kalyan via Mumbai's Central Suburbs and Thane, with some services running beyond to Karjat, Khopoli, and Kasara. The interchange point for these two lines is Dadar.

The Harbour Line has a common stretch between Mumbai CST (aka VT Victoria Terminus) and Vadala. The harbour line splits into two spurs, the main one running to Mumbai's Eastern Suburbs and Navi, Mumbai, up to Panvel. The Interchange point of this line with the Central Main Line is at Kurla. The other spur of the Harbour Line runs up to Mahim on the Western Line and runs parallel up to Andheri. The interchange stations with the Western line are Bandra and Andheri.

Trains on all lines start operations after 4AM and close operations between midnight and 1AM. Second class travel is very cheap. However, it is advisable to buy first class tickets as the economy class is extremely crowded. First Class can be quite expensive and if four people are travelling together, a taxi might be better.

Avoid using local trains during rush hour (first class or otherwise). Rush hour is between 8:30AM and 10:30AM towards CST (VT) and Churchgate and between 5:30PM and 8:30PM in the opposite direction. If you must transit during rush hour, avoid, at all costs, standing near the train car entry, as you will be swamped by a frantic, every man for himself, stampede of men attempting to get on the car. Take no offense if you are pushed and shoved about, as passengers jostle for a spot. As you near your exit station, ensure that you are as close as possible to the train door, as experienced commuters, will be begin the mad run to be first on, or off, the car before the car comes to a full stop! If you stand any chance of getting on/off before the train depart, you must be equally aggressive in your focus to exit/enter, remember no one will take offense if you make contact with others, as you wriggle by! Last, but not least, exiting/entering a train before it comes to a full stop is not something to be taken lightly, one misstep can send a person onto the rails with an amazing ease! Leave the stunts to the experienced locals.

There are special coaches for women on both classes. These are generally less crowded and safer. But very late at night, it might actually be safer to travel by the general coach than the first-class women's coach, as the latter may be absolutely empty except for you. Sometimes they have a cop guarding the coaches, but sometimes they won't. Use your judgment.

Mumbai Metro

The Mumbai Metro is currently under construction and is due to be completed soon this year.

By ferry

These are a few intra-city ferry services:

By car

Travel Agents and Hotels can arrange private chauffeur driven cars to provide services. Expensive by comparison with taxis, they are the most trusted, secure, and comfortable way to travel around the city. Driving in India is difficult, because of poor driver discipline, but chauffeur services are very reasonable. These can be arranged by travel companies or online from the countries of origin. You can rent a car easily if you have not your own vehicle. Many Car rental agencies provide their best services in Mumbai.

Talk

Mumbai is India's melting pot — a confluence of people from various parts of India, but dominant are people from the west, then north, and followed by the south. Marathi is the state and city official language used by State Government agencies, municipal authorities, and the local police, and also spoken by most locals at home as their first language.

On the street, apart from the main language, Marathi, a local version of colloquial Hindi, with strong Bollywood influence, called Bambaiya Hindi is the "lingua franca".

English is widely used in the corporate world and in banking and trading. At most places, you will be able to get by with Hindi and English, as most people you will encounter can communicate in broken English at the very least.

See

The game of names

The names of Mumbai's monuments tell us the story of which way political winds were blowing when they were built. In the late 19th century the British named everything after their Queen, so we had Victoria terminus, Victoria Gardens, and the Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute (built in 1887 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation). In the early 20th century, they named everything after the Prince of Wales.

After independence the colonial names could not be retained of course, so they were renamed. Depending on whether the city was suffering from bouts of nationalistic pride or Marathi pride at that time, they were named after either Jawaharlal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) or Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj (King Shivaji, who founded the Maratha empire in the 18th century). Often, they were named after Shivaji's mother, Jijabai. The advantage of this was that using Veermata Jijabai ("Courageous mother Jijabai") for a place that was earlier named for Victoria maintains the same abbreviation, so "Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute" (formerly Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute) is still VJTI.

For a traveller, the practical problem would be that many places have multiple names. Multiple places are named after Nehru, Shivaji, or Jijabai, so you need to be careful about specifying which place you need to get to.

There is a lot to see in Mumbai, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in South Mumbai.

By Indian standards, Mumbai is a young city and much of the land comprising the city did not exist until it was claimed from the sea over three centuries ago. It is therefore, a pleasant surprise to find rock cut caves such as the Elephanta, Kanheri, and Mahakali within city limits.

Colonial buildings

The British built a magnificent city within the walls of Fort St. George. Some fine examples of the Gothic revival, Neo-classical style and Indo-Saracenic style are seen within this area. Worth seeing are the Gateway of India, the CST terminus, and the Police headquarters or generally just take a stroll around South Mumbai.

Museums and Galleries

Some of the most famous museums and art galleries in India are found here. The Kala Ghoda area in South Mumbai teems with them, particularly the Prince of Wales Museum, and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Once again, most of them are concentrated in South Mumbai.

Beaches

Mumbai has a few beaches, including one in the downtown area. But they aren't that great and the water off Mumbai's coast is extraordinarily dirty. The relatively better ones are in the Northwest Mumbai area. But there are other beaches to be found such as the Girgaon Chowpaty in South Mumbai, The Juhu beach in the western suburbs and Aksa Beach in Malad. The currents don't seem strong, but particularly in the rains, lots of people die from drowning, so avoid getting in the water. A word of advice to women: Bombay beaches are not the kind you can wear swimsuits to, particularly two-pieces.



Zoos, parks and gardens

Mumbai has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. It is also one of the rare metropolises to have an entire national park within its borders. (Borivali national park[21]). You will not visit Mumbai for them, but if you are already here, they make a nice escape from the din and bustle.

The city zoo (Veermata Jijabai Udyan) is in Byculla and is a colonial relic which is surprisingly well-preserved. The animals may look rather emaciated, but the sheer diversity of trees on this lush zoo is worth a trip.

Some city parks are very well-maintained and combine history as well. The "Hanging Gardens" on Malabar Hill offers stunning vistas of the Marine Drive.

Further in South Mumbai, the Mumbai Port Trust Garden, is another hidden gem. This is set off a small side street off the Colaba Causeway 2-3 kms south of the main section. Once again, lovely views of the port, the naval yards, and sunset.

In central Mumbai, there are the Five Gardens. Mainly used by walkers in the morning, it is a mess in the evenings. But the gardens encircle some historic, art deco residences.

Markets and crowds

Mumbai is probably worth visiting just for its street markets, the hustle of vendors, and the madness of the crowds.

Modern buildings and malls

Once the British left, the zeal to wipe away the traces of colonial rule was, unfortunately, not matched by the enthusiasm to build a new city that matched the grandeur of the British-era buildings. Now, while the shabbiness of the socialist era is thankfully being replaced by architecture with an eye on aesthetics, the new malls, multiplexes, and office buildings that are coming up are indistinguishable from those anywhere else in the world. Still, they are worth a look, especially if you want to have a look at India's success story. Inorbit Mall, the best mall in India, is in Malad.

Powai is a modern central mumbai suburb with European looks. Powai houses the Indian Institute of Technology and is built around fabulous lake. Most of the construction is in a township format and is privately built. It houses twenty top of the line restaurants, two large convenience stores, a handful of coffee shops and entertainment areas. Initially built as an upmarket self contained township, Powai has now grown into a business process outsourcing hub in Mumbai. The township reflects both characteristics; you will often find families shopping and twenty somethings hanging out in tables next to each other.

Religious places

Mumbai has temples, mosques, churches, Parsi Agiaries, and even a few synagogues reflecting the diversity of its citizens. While these are naturally of interest if you are a believer, some, like the Portuguese church at Dadar are worth visiting just for their unique architecture.

Itineraries

Two days in Mumbai - your guide to spending two days in the city.

Do

There is a lot to do in Mumbai, but lack of space means that for outdoorsy activities, you need to head north, often outside city limits. In the Northwestern suburbs and Thane, you will find opportunities for water sports like H20[22] at Girgaum Chowpatty. There are two golf courses in the city, the more famous one in Chembur[23] in the Harbour suburbs.

Mumbai has a vibrant theater scene with plays in many languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi. While South Mumbai has frequent performances, the best organized theater effort is at Prithvi theater, Juhu in the Western Suburbs. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Indian classical music and dance. While not a patch on the Sabhas of Chennai, you will find frequent performances of Carnatic music in Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga in the South Central suburbs.

Mumbai is also usually the first stop for Western pop and rock stars visiting India, which they usually do when they are over 50. The Rock scene is very good in Mumbai. These are very safe to go to and are recommended for rock fans. Most bands cover heavy metal acts like Pantera, Six feet under, and Slipknot, but at places like Not just jazz by the bay, there are treats for Jazz fans, as well. To try to find places with specific music tastes try asking students outside Mumbai's colleges. Western classical music performances are rarer.



Festivals

While many religious festivals are celebrated by people in Mumbai, a few of these are essentially public and social occasions, where the traveller can participate.

Learn

Yoga

Universities

Work

Nariman Point and Fort are the commercial hubs of the city and the most sought after destinations. There is a significant expatriate population working in the banks and financial services industries. Bandra-Kurla region has come up in recent years too, but remains less desirable. A good idea to make quick money is to work part-time in a BPO or a call center most of which are concentrated at Mindspace (Malad(W)) and Hiranandani Gardens (Powai). A part-time job can pay you as much as $350 a month for just six hours a day for five days in a week. Only good for English speaking travellers.

Foreigners can also earn a quick buck as extras in Bollywood movies. Pay rates average Rs. 500 to 700 for a full day (8AM-8PM). Bring a book as there is alot of time spent sitting around, so it's not something do do for the money. Normally you won't have to look for them as they will be asking tourists near Leopolds or your hotel manager may ask you when you book in.

Buy

How

While credit cards are commonly accepted in Mumbai, you can not use them to pay at small street side shops. So you need to keep some cash handy. ATMs are available everywhere, so if you have an Indian bank account or credit card, you don't need to carry too much cash either. If you are a foreigner, it is a good idea to carry some cash to avoid charges while using your credit or debit card.

In general, costs in Mumbai are higher than the rest of India, though they are still low by Western standards.

Where

The shopping experience in the city is a study in contrasts. At the lower end of the spectrum are street vendors. Existing at the borderline of legality, entire streets have been given over to these hawkers and in many places it is impossible to walk on the footpaths, because they have blocked the way. On the other hand, these vendors often give you a great bargain though you will have to haggle a lot and be careful about what to buy. There's nothing like taking a local along to shop for you. Some famous shopping streets are:

Don’t carry too many items like money / jewellery / watches on you when visit the market. Keep it to bare essentials and keep an eye on your belongings. There is a very good chance that you may get robbed since locals are apt at spotting first time shoppers.

Or you could do your shopping at family-run shops, where the items are behind the counter and you have to ask the salesperson for what you want. The traditional way to buy sarees or jewelry is to go to a shop where you sit on a bedspread laid out on the floor and the salespeople bring out their wares one-by-one until you make a decision. Shops like Bharat Kshetra in Dadar have scaled this model up to such an extent that they have a two-storied complex where you can do the same.

Mumbai has been experiencing a boom in malls in the past few years. You can combine your shopping, dining out, and watching movies in one place.

What

Tourist Traps

In a place without clearly displayed price tags (and sometimes even in places with), you will get charged about 3-4 times as much as a local if you seem like a tourist. Take a local with you if you're going to local markets to haggle. Haggling is much louder and ruder in India than elsewhere. Don't be afraid to haggle things down to 1/4 of the asking price. And most importantly remember that almost all stores that sell carpets, jewelry, handicrafts, etc. pay huge amounts of commission (25% up to even 50%!) to the cab drivers, hence avoid tourist taxis, cabs, etc. One of the places that you can trust is The World Trade Centre (in Cuffe Parade, near Hotel Taj President). Besides being the only World Trade Centre in Mumbai, this place has an amazing range of exquisite carpets, handicrafts, shawls, etc. with reputed government approved stores and state emporiums too. Ask for receipts everywhere, including bars, and check what you have been charged for. Don't ever accept a guide offer or escort of somebody from the street, you will certainly get conned. If some place (including cabs, eateries, stores, etc) claims it doesn't have change (this is highly unlikely), insist they get change from a neighbouring store.

Eat

The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. If you search hard enough, you will find cuisine from practically every part of the world represented in the city. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Mumbai, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food and Irani cafes. That is what is described here. For individual restaurants and other places to eat, go to the individual district pages.

Don't leave India without trying:


Specialty Restaurants

Colaba - A foodies delight

North Western

Regional Indian

Street food stalls

Songs have been written about Mumbai's street food and you will find that the hype is justified. You will find them at every street corner, but they are concentrated in beaches and around railway stations.

Tip: cheap and tasty food stalls are concentrated around the city's colleges.

Street stall food in India is fantastic, and dirt cheap (you can fill yourself up for Rs 20). However, do consider well what you are putting in your mouth. Almost certainly the water used is non-potable, street vendors don't seem to understand much about hygiene or hand-washing, and food safety standards are low, with flies buzzing over everything. Even locals steer clear of street food during the monsoons, when diseases run rampant. If the stall seems very clean, and if it clearly states that it is using Aquaguard or mineral water, go for it.

Udupi restaurants

Mangalorians(and udupi) forms the highset tourist populations of Mumbai,and both the cities have almost same culture and architecture. "Udupi" restaurants (or "hotels") are everywhere. They bear the name of the town of Udupi in Karnataka, but do not be misled into thinking that they specialize in the cuisine of Udupi. They serve pretty much everything, and that is their specialty.

Usually strictly vegetarian, these restaurants were opened by migrants from the district of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka (of which Udupi is a part), to satisfy the palates of other migrants from the district. Over time, they gained popularity as places to have South Indian food. As the tastes of their customers evolved, so to did their menus, so much that now you can find Mughlai, Indian Chinese, Bhelpuri, and other chaats in addition to South Indian stuff. Amazingly, some places serve imitations of pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches too!

They are fast food joints and sit-down restaurants combined. The reason to visit them is not to experience fine gourmet dining, but to have cheap, passably tasty and fairly hygienic food. There is no easy way to identify an Udupi restaurant — they are not a chain of restaurants and they may not have "Udupi" in their name, so you will have to ask.

Though present all over the city, they started in the Matunga area. Cafe Mysore is one of the older Udipi Restaurants in King's Circle (Maheshwari Udyan). Also one of the earliest established restaurants( est. 1932) is New Sardar at lalbaug. They serve one of the best MISSALS in mumbai and their Garlic Dosas (this dosa is available only here and nowhere else in the world) have to be relished & not eaten. Lots of interesting dishes are served here and a visit to this restaurant is a must. The address is very simple Sardar, Dr. B.A.Road, Lalabaug,Mumbai 400 033, Tel +91 22 2470 0583, +91 22 2470 1773.

Matunga(Central line) has the best south indian fare in Mumbai. There are few restaurants which could well be heritage sites as they are more than 50 years old and still retain thier old world charm(and furniture). Try out Sarada Bhavan(opposite the Railway Station), Mani's cafe(near Matunga Gymkhana), Anand Bhavan(near Maheshwari Udyan), Ram Ashray(near Vegetable market) and Amba Bhavan(near the Asthika Samaj Temple) for authentic South Indian snacks.

Irani cafes

Absolutely the best for "Chai" and "Maska-Pau" (bread and butter). Also for assorted snacks, like Kheema-na-Patice, samosas, mava-na-cakes, etc. The best dish which is always on the menu is Kheema Pav. Kheema (prepared from ground meat) and pav (bread). One of the best places to eat is Cafe Military which is in the Fort area (near the Bombay Stock Exchange). Majority of their customers are upscale like lawyers, bankers, and stock brokers because of which the quality is good. In spite of that the prices are very low, average entree would cost around $1 or Rs. 40.

Thalis

If you order a thali (translated as "plate"), you get a complete meal arranged on your plate, with a roti or chappati, rice, and many different varieties of curries and curd. Ordering a thali is a popular option when you are hungry and in a hurry as it is usually served blazingly fast. Most mid-level restaurants have a thali on the menu, at least during lunch hours. Occasionally, they are "unlimited", which means that some of the items are all-you-can-eat. The waiters serve them at your table.

Of course, you find many varieties of them, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There is the South Indian thali. The "North Indian" thali translates to Mughlai or Punjabi. Do try Gujarati or Rajasthani thalis if you can find them. They are sinfully filling and tasty. Rajdhani (At Crawford Market) serves up thalis in the Rajasthani style while Aram (near Mahim Church, Mahim), Ramanayak Udipi (At Matunga Station, east) serves up thalis in South Indian style and Shree Thakker Bhojanalaya (off Kalbadevi Road) do filling and fabulous Gujarati thalis.

Fast food chains

Surprisingly, there is no fast-food chain in Mumbai serving Indian cuisine. But Western chains like McDonalds [54], Subway[55], Pizza hut[56], Dominos[57],Kentucky Fried Chicken[58] etc. have many outlets all over the city. But if you are a weary westerner looking for the taste of the familiar, be warned that all of them have rather heavily Indianized their menus, so you will find the stuff there as exotic as you found Bambaiyya food. However, Barista[59], Cafe Coffee Day[60], and Smokin' Joe's[61] are all Indian chains, although they don't serve Indian food. While Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, as there names suggest, serve coffee and pastries, Smokin' Joe's serves decent pizzas and is headquartered in Carmichael Rd, Mumbai. International coffee chains like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Aromas have recently set shop in Mumbai.

Naturals is a chain of ice cream stores that serves up tasty and unconventional flavours of ice creams. Try their tender coconut or the coffee walnut ice creams. Its main branch is in Juhu in the Western suburbs (hence the tagline - 'Ice cream of Juhu Scheme'), but it has franchises at many places including Marine Drive, Bandra, Nepean sea road, etc. Naturals is also famous for its seasonal "Sitaphal" or Custard Apple Ice-cream.

Try the sumptuous creamy crepes and omelets at Crepe Station, Bandra. Its owned by a famous Bollywood actor, Dino Morea.

What to eat

Asking a local for suggestions is a fun way to try new things. Here are a few suggestions:


Tipping

Tip between 5-10% at sit-down places. If a place includes service charges on the bill, you don't need to leave an extra tip. Note the difference betwen service tax and service charges. Service tax goes to Government and not to the staff. While tipping is always good practice, at bars you don't necessarily have to tip the bartender. If you plan to be there a while though it's a good idea to give him Rs 50-100 on your first drink to ensure a night of trouble-free service. You do not have to tip cab or auto drivers at all, and don't get out of the vehicle until they have given you full and exact change.

Drink

Mumbai is one of the most liberal cities in India when it comes to attitudes to alcohol. Bars exist at virtually every street corner and many of them advertise themselves as "family" bars and restaurants, which indicates that they are primarily restaurants where one can also have a drink. Other places are primarily bars, some of them might be sleazy. In South Mumbai and in the Western suburbs, you are likely to find many places where foreigners hang out.

Mumbai is much more accepting of women drinking than the rest of India. A woman ordering a drink is unlikely to raise eyebrows even in mid-range bars, though if you are alone, you might need to look out for your safety.

Nightlife in Mumbai spans the gamut from performances at five star hotels to discos. Dance bars which involve young, fully clothed women dancing mostly to Hindi film and pop music, have been shut down by the government for corrupting the morals of those who frequent those places. While the state high court has ruled that the crackdown was illegal, it will be a while before they open again as there are some technicalities involved to be sorted out.


Alcohol

WARNING: General Guideline: Please make sure you are talking to the right people. In any lounge/club/bar, there are a lot of upmarket people that you can get to know and talk to and in the process, verify credentials of. However, there ARE outfits operating within Mumbai clubs, (possibly)unknown to the clubs themselves, that indulge in hustling, peddling, and blackmailing. It's mostly very hard to distinguish these outgoing-looking smart set of young/middle-aged people from the 'regular' crowd. You need not even be a tourist to become a prey. Please ensure credentials of people you meet are well verified. As a general guideline you can remember : it's difficult to fake being a structural engineer or a securities analyst or doctor. It's easier to fake being an actor, dancer, or call center or hotel employee. Nothing against any professionals obviously, but you get the idea.



WARNING: The Mumbai police have become very strict regarding drinking and driving. If caught it will result in either your license being suspend, to fines and even a jail term.


Coffee Shops

There many coffee shops in and around Mumbai. Try the Cafe Coffee Day[65] and Barista[66] chains. These are the best around town and also serve some pretty neat coffee for cheap. There's the Cafe Mocha chain of coffee shops which also serve fruit flavoured hookas — South Asian smoking pipes. If a small coffee and cookies place is what you are looking for, try Theobroma, it has an outlet at Cusrow Baug in Colaba. Those looking for a more native form of coffee can try the filter coffee, a milky coffee with origins from South India, from any Udupi restaurant.

LGBT Options

There is already a lively late night, if somewhat subterranean, scene for gays, as well as social and political networks. However, you need to do your homework before arriving, as LGBT gathering spaces and organizations are not published or available at local newsstands. Much of Mumabi's LGBT scene is coordinated using social networking sites and groups. Use extreme caution; robberies, hustlers, and even police entrapment are not unheard of, though a July 2009 judgment legalizing homsexuality should save you from the last one.

Sleep

It is very difficult to find good budget hotels in Mumbai. If you are a tourist or a business traveller, you may have to stay in South Mumbai, which is where both the business district and the touristy areas are. Lack of space means that even the cheapest hotel charges stratospheric tariffs. The state of public transport and traffic means that it is not really a good choice to stay anywhere else. In any case, things aren't much better if you are looking for hotels close to the airport. You should be looking at the Western Suburbs in that case. There are many guest houses at Colaba, where you find most of budget foreign travellers stay. Other budget hotels are found near railway stations, such as Dadar or Santa cruz, but most of them are absolute dumps. One safe and economical place to stay in Mumbai is the YMCA. Reasonably priced accommodations are available at the Colaba, Bombay Central, Andheri, and CBD Belapur Branches. Other budget options include the Salvation Army Red Cross Hostel, one of the few dorms available, at Rs.195 a night.

One inexpensive alternative is to live with a local family as a paying guest. A list of available families can be obtained from the Government of India tourist office Tel +91 22' 2220 7433 opposite Churchgate train station.

On the other hand, if money is of no object, you can stay at the Taj in Colaba (the oldest in India), the Leela Kempinski, the ITC Grand Maratha, or the JW Marriott Mumbai, Renaissance Mumbai Hotel & Convention Centre. Hotel listings are in the district pages.

Contact

The area code for Mumbai is "22" (prefix "+91", if you are calling from outside India). Phone numbers are eight digits long, but on occasion you will find a seven digit number listed. That is probably an old listing. They made the changeover from seven to eight digits a few years back, when they allowed private service providers to offer telephone. Just add a "2" to the number and it should work just fine, however if that does not work try prefixing "5". All mobile numbers, however, are 10 digits long and begin with a "9", "8" or "7". Do not dial the city prefix for mobile numbers. If you don't get through to a mobile number, try adding a "0" before you dial it.

Phone booths can be found all over the city. Though they are coin operated, there is usually someone to run the place. (Typically the phones are attached to a roadside shop). You need to keep putting 1 rupee coins into the slot to extend the talk time, so keep a change of 1 rupee coins handy with you. The person running the booth will usually have them. If you find a booth marked STD/ISD, you can call internationally or anywhere within the country. Fees will be charged according to the time spent and a meter runs to keep track of your time. You pay when you have finished your call. Often it is difficult to find one that is open early in the morning or late at night.

Cell phone coverage in the city is excellent. There are many service providers offering a wide variety of plans. Among them are The MTNL [67], Vodafone [68], Loop Mobile [69], Airtel [70], Dolphin [71], Reliance [72], and Tata Indicom [73]. It might be a good idea to buy a cell phone and use one of those prepaid plans to get yourself connected while you are in the city.

Cybercafes are located at virtually every street corner and the rates are quite low. Just keep in mind that they have probably not kept pace with advances in hardware or software, so if you find yourself in one of them, don't be surprised if you are stuck with a really small monitor, Windows 98, and Internet Explorer 5.0. Also data security is an issue. Change your password after you use it at a cybercafe.

Finding wi-fi in Mumbai is very difficult due to security concerns. A few coffeeshops such as Barista may offer access. You should start your search with Chembur, Pamposh, Phoenix Mills, Santa Cruz, and Sterling Baristas. You can also find for-pay wi-fi at the airport, provided by Tata Indicom.

Also for sending the letters, parcels etc you can choose from the Indian Postal service [74], to private courier companies such as DHL[75], UPS[76], TNT[77],DTDC[78]etc.

Stay safe

For a city of its size and global importance, Mumbai is quite safe. However, as with any foreign city, it is best to err on the side of safety and act according to your local environment. Here are a few basic safety tips:

Although violent crime in Mumbai is much less than in Delhi, it does sometimes occur. Most notably, terrorists have staged several murderous attacks in Mumbai, targeting banks and the stock exchange in 1993 (killing around 300), commuter trains in 2006 (killing over 200) and top hotels including the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi in 2008 (over 170 dead). The last of these saw foreigners, specifically Americans, Britons and Israelis, explicitly targeted for the first time.

Emergency numbers

MUMBAI POLICE CONTROL (100)

Police Infoline — 1090.
D. G. Control — 2202 6636.
South Div. — 2308 9855.
East Control — 2523 3588.
North Control — 2885 4643.
Mum. Police Head Qtr. — 2262 5020.
Central Div. — 2375 0909.
West Control — 2645 7900.
Traffic Control — 2493 7746.
Traffic Helpline — 3040 3040.

RAILWAYS
Churchgate — 2201 7420.
C.S.T — 2262 2685.
Central Rly. C.S.T. — 2262 0173.
Western Rly. Central — 2307 0197.

AIRPORT
Santacruz Airport — 2615 6600.
Sahar Terminal (NIPTC) — 2682 9000.
Indian Airlines Enquiry — 2616 8000.
Air India Enquiry — 2279 6666.

AIRAMBULANCE
DOMESTIC/INTERNATIONAL - +91 98211 50889 .

Fire Station (101) — 2307 6111, 2308 6181, 230 6112/13

COAST GUARDS — 2437 6133, 2437 1932


The services have improved quite a bit, but they are more likely to respond to a phone call from a house/office, etc rather than a public phone.

Stay healthy

As elsewhere in India, be careful with what you eat. Outside of major tourist hotels and restaurants, stay away from raw leafy vegetables, egg-based dressings like mayonnaise and minced meat are particularly risky. In short, stick to boiled, baked, fried, or peeled goods. Opinions on tap water vary, but most visitors choose to stick to the bottled stuff. Large bottles of water can be purchased at a very low cost. One note of caution, when buying water from street vendors, make sure the lid is sealed, there have been cases of bottles being filled with tap water, and sold as new.

Smog can reach unhealthful levels, especially during the dry season. This, coupled with the summer heat and humidity, can make spending time outdoors quite unpleasant.

Cope

Groceries

In addition to the local grocery stores which can be found on most of the streets, there are new additions to the city in the form of new big and small supermarkets and hypermarkets where you can get all the food items you need. Some of them are Big Bazaar[79], Food Bazaar[80], Hypercity[81], DMart, Spinach Local, Apna Bazaar, etc. If you are looking for exotic fruits and vegetables then you can try looking in stores like Natures Basket[82].

Hospitals

List of Major Hospitals and health care centers:

Diagnostic Center

List of Major Diagnostic, health care and Polyclinics:

Get out

Another option is to to book bus tickets online from Redbus website[94] which has tied up with a number of large private bus operators all over India.

The suburban train service, mentioned above, does a good job of connecting the surrounding cities.

Related Information


WikiPedia:Mumbai




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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [95].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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