Home  |  Destination   |  Mumbai (Bombay)

Mumbai (Bombay)

Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and is the most populous Indian city. Mumbai is located on Salsette Island off the west coast of India. The city, which has a deep natural harbor, is also the largest port in western India, handling over half of India's passenger traffic. The appellation Mumbai is an eponym, etymologically derived from Mumba - the name of the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and Aai - meaning mother in Marathi.

Tourist Information

Ancient yet modern, fabulously rich yet achingly poor, Mumbai is India in microcosm. Once a sultry tropical archipelago of seven islands, and the Raj's brightest jewel, Mumbai was the dowry of Portuguese Princess Infanta Catherine de Braganza who married Charles II of England in 1661. Today it's a teeming metropolis, commercial hub of an old civilization seeking to find its place in the
New World Order. Forty percent of India's taxes come from this city alone, and half of India's international trade passes through its splendid natural harbour. In fact Mumbai is the very soul of human enterprise. At the city's Stock Exchange, millionaires and paupers are made overnight, and the sidewalks are crowded with vendors hawking everything from ballpoint pens to second hand mixies. Everyday, half of Mumbai's population commutes from far-flung suburbs to downtown offices, banks, factories and mills for a living. Nearly thirteen million people live here - wealthy industrialists, flashy film stars, internationally acclaimed artists, workers, teachers and clerks - all existing cheek by jowl in soaring skyscrapers and sprawling slums. They come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and speak over a dozen tongues adding colour, flavour and texture to the Great Mumbai Melting Pot.


Present-day Mumbai was originally made up of seven isles. Artefacts found near Kandivali in northern Mumbai indicate that these islands had been inhabited since the Stone Age. Documented evidence dates back to 250 BC when it was known as Heptanesia or a cluster of seven islands. In the 3rd century BCE, they were part of the Maurya empire, ruled by the Buddhist
emperor Ashoka. The Hindu rulers of the Silhara dynasty later governed the islands until 1343, when it was annexed by the kingdom of Gujarat. Some of the oldest edifices of the archipelago-the Elephanta Caves and the Walkeshwar temple complex date to this era. In 1534, the Portuguese appropriated the islands from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. They were ceded to Charles II of England in 1661 as dowry or, more appropriately, wedding gifts of Catherine de Braganza. They in turn were leased to the British East India Company in 1668 for a sum of �10 per annum. The company found the deep harbour at Bombay eminently apposite, and the population rose from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. In 1687, the East India Company transferred their headquarters from Surat to Bombay. From 1817 the city was reshaped, with large civil engineering projects aimed at merging the islands into a single amalgamated mass. This project, the Hornby Vellard, was completed by 1845 and resulted in the area swelling to 438 km�. Eight years later, in 1853, India's first passenger railway line was established, connecting Bombay to Thana. During the American Civil War, (1861-1865) the city became the world's chief cotton market, resulting in a boom in the economy and subsequently in the city's stature. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed Bombay into one of the largest Arabian Sea ports. The city grew into a major urban centre over the next thirty years, spurred by an improvement in the infrastructure and the construction of many of the city's institutions. The population of the city swelled to one million by 1906, making it the second largest in India, after Calcutta. It later became a major base for the Indian independence movement, with the Quit India Movement called by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 being its most rubric event. After independence, the city incorporated parts of the island of Salsette, expanding to its present day limits in 1957. It became the capital of the new linguistic state of Maharashtra in 1960. In the late 1970s Bombay witnessed a construction boom, with a significant increase in population owing to the influx of migrants. By 1986 it had overtaken Calcutta as the most populated Indian city. The city's secular fabric was torn in 1992, after large-scale Hindu-Muslim riots caused extensive losses to life and property. A few months later, on March 12, simultaneous bombings of the city's establishments by the underworld killed around three hundred. In 1995, the city was renamed Mumbai after the right wing Shiv Sena party came into power in Maharashtra, in keeping with their policy of renaming colonial institutions after historic local appellations.

Tourist Attractions

Mumbai Dabbawala is bigesst tourist attractionChowpatty Beach, Crawford Market, Prince of Wales Museum, Gateway of India, Nehru Planetarium, Flora Fountain, Nehru Centre, Elephanta Caves, Kanheri Caves, Karla Caves, Mantheran, Lonavala and Khandala

Fairs And Festivals

Fairs and festivals are celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervor to invoke divine blessings as well as for the sheer joy of living. A celebration of life at its best.

Gudi Padava

in March/April, is the start of the Maharashtrian New Year. It is marked by the erection of gudis (bamboo sticks) decorated with colourful cloth and topped with an upturned drinking vessel.

Makar Sankranti

Marks the beginning of the sun's movement northwards. Witness ruthless kite duels at Chowpatty Beach.

Elephanta Festival

Elephanta, a small is land 10 kms. away from the Mumbai harbour, is a favoured destination for culture lovers during the festival held in February. The festival of Music and Dance is organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). The main highlights of the festival is the illuminated Maheshmurti (Shiva-idol), in the main cave of the island. Folk dances by the local fisher folk, ethnic local food varieties add to the ambiance. Over the years, the festival has become a major tourist attraction for Mumbaites and for incoming domestic and foreign tourists.


It falls in August/September, is celebrated with particular enthusiasm in Mumbai. Its climax is colourful and noisy and involves tens of thousands of people converging on Chowpatty Beach to immerse the images of the elephant-god Ganesh into the sea.


This is another festival that is celebrated with pomp and show in Mumbai. The various famous churches of Mumbai are seen sparkling from Christmas eve through New Year.

Indian Film Industry Bollywood, Mumbai

BollywoodCinema is India's great social leveler: from the President right down to the shoeshine boy, everyone loves a good film. In fact Mumbai boasts the largest movie industry in the world. Wryly called Bollywood, it churns out nine hundred films every year, mostly racy potboilers or mushy romances filled with song, dance, violence and melodrama. Heroes drive around in flashy cars,
oomphy actresses cavort in itsy bitsy mini skirts and the poor boy always succeeds against the rich villain. But India also has a serious parallel cinema that has never quite wooed the box office. Made for the country's cognoscenti, so-called "art films" regularly win awards at Cannes and other international festivals, and their actors are universally acclaimed. The average Hindi film is about three hours long at the end of which you will probably feel like a wrung out rag, but the audience never seems to mind. Indian film stars are demi - gods and the reigning matinee idols often compete with the more divine variety for public attention! What's more, in Bollywood, fiction and reality often get blurred; there are real life stories of actors who once slept on the pavements outside their palatial homes, proof that fairytale endings do not belong to cinema alone.

Mumbai Shopping

Shopping in MumbaiShopping is one of the many enjoyable things in Mumbai. Without any doubt, you can spend hours exploring shops, bazaars, markets and stalls. Nowadays, the big fancy international shopping malls are common sense in India as well. The World Trade Center at Cuffe Parade and the shopping mall at Nehru Center are two well-known shopping paradises and you can buy everything, ranging from the latest fashion in Bombay, handicrafts, consumer or electronical equipments, paintings, engineering innovations etc. Both of them also serve as exhibition centres.

Mumbai Cuisine's

Indians have more than a hundred ways of cooking meat; And nearly twice as many ways of preparing a single vegetable. In fact the cuisine varies from state to state, and sometimes even from district to district - a culinary cornucopia that Indians themselves find confusing. It would probably take a lifetime to sample all the delicacies on offer, but in Mumbai, you can certainly explore the
broad culinary categories. Although most five star hotels boast several types of Indian cuisine on the menu, smaller restaurants are well worth a visit and offer a more local ambiance. You can have rich north Indian fare accompanied by chappatis (the flat unleavened bread of India ), spicy southern curries with rice or steaming idlis, gujarati thalis with their limitless range of vegetarian dishes, or even delicately flavoured fresh water fish all the way from Bengal! The local coastal cuisine is also very popular for its exotic seafood. In addition Mumbai has the ubiquitous ice cream parlours, fast food joints including McDonald's, take-away Chinese and pizzas, plus an interesting sidewalk menu. The most popular roadside snacks are pao bhaji - a sort of vegetable stew eaten with hot buttered bread and bhelpuri - crisp fried semolina and rice puffs served with an assortment of fiery chutneys. Watch out: like Mumbai itself, this one can be a little difficult to stomach!

Mumbai Entertainment

Compared to the rest of the country Mumbai's social calendar is always full. Cinema, theatre, fashion shows and charity shows, wine and cheese launches, eclectic art exhibitions and cultural dos are regular events. Each of these is a window to a different social world - you will meet artsy types and business cliques, society memsahibs and filmy folk, all as different as chalk from
cheese. Like New York, this is a city that never sleeps. Even on weekdays, pubs are crawling with young people, late night movies play to a full house and restaurants are usually booked solid. So don't be surprised if you are caught in a traffic jam at midnight on a Monday - this is aamchi Mumbai, folks.

How to Get Reach

By Air

Mumbai is an international airport. Many international airlines operate flights to Mumbai from various parts of the world. Indian Airlines and many private airlines connect Mumbai with all major tourist centres in India.

By Train

Mumbai is the headquarters of the Central and Western Railways. Regualr Buy Trains connect it with all major cities like Ahamedabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Calcutta, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madras, Nagapur and Trivandrum.

By Road

Mumbai is connected by good motor able roads with all major tourist centres.