Mumbai evokes a sense of enchantment with its cosmopolitan culture and energetic people. The fact that this city never sleeps is evident from the lively nightlife and the stunning view of the Marine Drive at night. Spread across 603 sq km, it is one of the most populated cities in the world and attracts even more every year for its commercial opportunities. It is therefore the commercial capital of India, and because of its importance in the global economy, it was given the name Alpha World City. Nonetheless, the history and urban options in Mumbai brings tourists from India and abroad, and makes it one of the most visited destinations in the country. Whether you like strolling on a beach, or visiting historical structures, or even nature trailing and boating, Mumbai has something for everyone. Know more about the city in the Mumbai Travel Guide.
Best time to visit Mumbai: October to March
How to Reach Mumbai
By Air: To reach Mumbai by air, you can take a flight to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. With separate domestic and international terminals, 5 km apart, this airport receives the maximum number of passengers globally, according to a report by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, 2011.
By Rail: Mumbai can easily be reached by train from anywhere in India. The Chhatrapti Shivaji Terminus or CST is the main railway station in the city. Other stations handling national train traffic are Mumbai Central, Andheri, Dadar, Bandra and Borivali Railway Stations, and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, making travel to Mumbai easier.
By Road: Mumbai has a large network of roadways and bus services. The city can be accessed by national highways 3, 4, 8, 17 and 222. The nearby city, Pune is well connected with Mumbai by the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Tourist Attractions in Mumbai: Places to go
Mumbai offers an ideal place to enjoy a pulsating city life along with several spiritual and historical monuments that give you a glimpse of its glorious past. Along with the Fashion Street, numerous discotheques and restaurants you can also visit the studios and shooting areas of the Indian entertainment industry, popularly called Bollywood. Anywhere you travel in Mumbai, from Nariman Point in the south to the Global Vipassana Pagoda in the north, the artificial Powai Lake in the center to the beaches in the west, every part of the city has a special something. It is better to decide which places to visit depending on the number of days you stay here. Among the many attractions in Mumbai, a visit to the Jogger's Park, and Chowpatti Beach are a must if you wish to see where the people of Mumbai unwind. Here are the tourist attractions in Mumbai worth considering a visit:
Heritage Buildings in Mumbai
The historically rich past of the city is marked by several monuments including the Siddhivinayak Temple, Rajabai Clock Tower and the Asiatic Society of Mumbai that boost Mumbai tourism. The other heritage buildings worth a visit are:
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus - Earlier known as the Victoria Terminus, it took 10 years, between 1878 and 1888, to construct this building marvel that today houses the main Mumbai railway station. At present, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Note the High Victorian Gothic architecture with sculptured iron railings, tiles, carved wood and imposing staircases with ornamented balustrades here.
Elephanta Caves - About 10 km from the Mumbai Harbor, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on the Elephanta Islands. Visit the network of caves that has 6th to 7th century paintings and sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses and Lord Buddha in various postures.
Gateway of India - This 26 meters high arch stands close to the Arabian Sea in South Mumbai. On your travel to Mumbai, visit this basalt monument that represents the Hindu and Muslim architectural styles, and which took about 12 years, between 1911 and 1924, to build.
Haji Ali Tomb and Mosque - Situated in South Mumbai, just off the Worli coast, this mosque is an imposing structure built in the Indo-Islamic architectural style in the year 1438.
Museums in Mumbai
Art and history lovers can visit the following museums in Mumbai:
Jehangir Art Gallery - Established in the year 1925, this art gallery showcases antiques, paintings and other forms of Indian art in its four exhibition halls. Situated in South Mumbai, the gallery complex also houses a cafe and an antique shop.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya - Also known as the Prince of Wales Museum, it is located across 12,000 sq km in South Mumbai, close to the Jehangir Art Gallery. Built in the year 1915, it houses about 50,000 historical artifacts from as early as the Indus Valley Civilization. You can also find exhibits in the field of natural history, art and architecture.
National Gallery of Modern Art - Famous for its unique art collections from all around the world, this gallery is situated in Colaba. You can see exhibits of Egyptian statues and mummies, and paintings made by Pablo Picasso.
Wildlife and Bird Sanctuaries in Mumbai
Nature lovers can visit the following protected area to enjoy the wildlife in Mumbai:
Sanjay Gandhi National Park - Also known as the Borivali National Park, it is one of the top sightseeing attractions in Mumbai. Situated in the northern suburb of the city, this national park is known for its endangered wildlife including about 150 species of butterflies. A haven for nature lovers and away from the bustling city, one can spot animals, birds and reptiles like mouse deer, barking deer, Asian Palm Civet, Indian Flying Fox, magpies, Golden Orioles, crocodiles and peacocks. The park is also visited by migratory birds like Paradise Flycatcher and sea gulls. Your travel to Mumbai will be incomplete without visiting the Buddhist Kanheri Caves that are located in the park premises.
Fairs and Festivals in Mumbai
The cultural diversity of Mumbai is evident in its fairs and festivals. Here are the popular ones worth a mention:
Ganesh Chaturthi - This 10 day long festival is celebrated elaborately in Mumbai. Held in the month of August or September, Ganesh Chaturthi features colorful pandals and energetic processions. Experience the joy and excitement among the Mumbaikars during this festival.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival - This is one of the most popular arts and culture festival in Mumbai, held at various locations in the city for 9 days in the month of January or February. Organized by a non profit organization and funded by private companies, you can enjoy dance, drama and music performances, food, and events for the children.
Bandra Fair - Also known as the Mount Mary Fair, it is held annually in the month of September for a week at the Mount Mary Church in the Bandra suburb, to commemorate the Nativity of Mary. Enjoy a variety of sweets in the food stalls here. You can also buy wax dolls of Virgin Mary and pray at the church.
Banganga Festival - Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, this classical music festival is celebrated in January, annually, at the Malabar Hills.
Elephanta Festival - Held every year in February, by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, the Elephanta Festival has cultural performances and boat rides to the Elephanta Islands.
History of Mumbai
Mumbai was earlier a disjointed collection of islands in the Arabian Sea. The earliest known inhabitant here was a fishing community called Koli. Through the years several empires ruled over the area including the Mauryas, Satvahanas, Vakatas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Mughals, Portuguese, British and the Marathas. They contributed to the history of the city. The major contribution was made by the British who transformed the seven islands with a few fishing villages into a united landmass with flourishing trading communities. The area was then called Bombay. Bombay was a major center during India's freedom struggle. It hosted the first session of the Indian National Congress that promoted political consciousness, which led to independence in 1947. Post independence, the city saw several struggles between communities. But Mumbai, as it is called today, is still standing tall offering the best commercial prospects and a vibrant city life.