Saturday, March 7, 2009


Mumbai-Dreams take you to..

The very mention of Mumbai sets the Indian eyes to sparkle. Can there be a better appellation than 'City of Dreams' for a place where ordinary people can become stars overnight. Studded with the Indian Hollywood - Bollywood, India's 'Little Paris' - the fashion industry that unabashedly boasts of the world's largest textile produce, Indian cricketers, India's largest Stock Exchange at Bandra and Asia's oldest at Dalaal Street, the racing maniacs' Mahalaxmi Race Course - Mumbai aka Bombay is the place to be. Welcome to a city which might pause at times for some breath but never sleeps.

Tale of the City

Bombay belonged to the Portuguese until 1661, when it was passed on to the British as a part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry when she married Charles II. Ever since, Parsis, Marwaris, Gujaratis and South Indian Hindus have some and settled here making it a classic cultural and religious medley.


Festivals of note: The Elephanta Dance and Music Festival of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), held at the Elephanta Islands, 10 km away from the Mumbai harbor, is something you should check out if you are timing your trip in February. Traditional folk dances by local fishermen, ethnic cuisine, dance and music performances by noted artists from across the nation make it a classic tourist attraction. Watch the majestic Shiva Idol that takes on a divine aura with brilliant light effects. You can easily take a Motor drive to the island.

Another riotously popular festival is the Ganesha Chaturthi or the festival of Lord Ganesha celebrated late August-early September. The city takes on a different entity altogether with nose-to-nail traffic.

Historical Echoes : The grandiloquent Gateway of India, built in 1911, with intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone, is a matter of fact gateway (unlike the India Gate at Delhi) through which the British passed while departing independent India. For that mind-swirling view, the coffee shop at the Taj Mahal Hotel, will be the best bet. Flanking it is an insignia reminiscing Mumbai, just like the Statue of Liberty echoes America - the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji on horseback. An hour's sail across the Arabian Sea from the Gateway of India will take you to the Elephanta Caves, the mesmeric remains of the Konkan Mauryas and an UNESCO Heritage site.

If you have a taste for antiques, the Prince of Wales Museum, rated amongst the 20 best museums in the world, with its prized collection of miniature paintings of 16th - 18th century and remains of the Harappan and Mohenjodaro civilization, will leave you bewitched. Speaking of antiques, have you heard of the Parsi custom of leaving the dead in the open for the vultures to eat - an ultimate gesture of charity. Mumbai's Towers of Silence are some of the remnants of that lost tradition. Consider a visit to the lofty Hanging Gardens next door, built during the early 1880s over Bombay's main reservoir at the top of the Malabar Hills.

Mahatma Gandhi's Bombay residence, Mani Bhawan, with its heirloom of 2000 books, a photo feature of Mahatma's life, an original Charkha, a recording archive - make it a must-visit to re-discover India's saga of independence, so resonating other erstwhile colonial nations past.

The magnificent Gothic Victorian buildings in the Fort area are reminiscent of the great public buildings in London or Glasgow. The Victoria Terminus (known as CST), is one of the world's grandest railway stations, on a par with New York's Grand Central Station or London's St Pancras. Built in the Italian Gothic style, it looks more like a lavishly decorated cathedral than a railway station.

Beaches, of a kind : Chowpatty, in the city suburbs, is where you would see the swarm at its bustling best. Vendors, monkey shows, pony rides, fortune tellers, bhelpuri (a local lip-smacking snack) stalls, picnicking families, street plays or some surprise film shoot and what not, makes this beach one of its kind. Another boulevard so typically Mumbaiyya (of Mumbai) is the Marine Drive, dubbed Queen's Necklace, a dramatic curve laced with tall buildings and street lights on one side, and the turquoise sea on the other that extends from Nariman Point to Malabar Hills. Next is the Juhu beach. Now don't consider it any less important just because it is mentioned third. This is Mumbai's bourgeois locus constellated with many five star hotels that command an eye-rhyming view of the coast with its camel and pony rides, acrobats, and entertainers.

City of Dreams : Mumbai is India's celluloid capital. Bollywood - the Indian film industry, buzzes in its very life blood. The antique Prithvi Theatre belonging to the famed Kapoor lineage hosts plays on social themes - perfect for quiet evenings in your 'discover India' spree. Don't miss out some sightings of the legion of Bollywood studios where you can also have a quick chat with one of the stars, if you are lucky -that is.

Religious sites : Haji Ali's Mosque in the sea (often submerged during high tide), St Thomas's Cathedral (oldest British building in Mumbai), Zoroatrian Fire Temples (of Parsis), Jain temple (of the first tirthankara), Mahalaxmi (of resident goddess Mumbadevi).

Nocturnal hangouts : Mumbai remains blasphemously young with the nights pulsating with the beats of the bars and discotheques. Some names to remember incase you are a nocturnal: Slice of Lime, Insomnia (The Taj Mahal), Six Degrees the Champagne Lounge (The Leela Kempinski), Squeeze, Raspberry Rhinoceros (Juhu hotel), The Ghetto, H20 the Liquid Lounge (Khar), Poison (Bandra), Enigma (Juhu), Red Light (MG Road), to name a few.


The very names of the shopping joints strike an enticing note. The shoppers swarm the Chor Bazaar and Crawford Market, where every thinkable buy can be made with your bargaining skills put to good use. Zaveri Bazar offers excellent range of jewelery items. Shop hop at Chor Bazar for antiques, jewelery, wooden articles, leather ware and general bric-a-brac. The World Trade Center (WTC) at Cuffe Parade and the shopping mall at Nehru Center are the shopping arcades with frequent exhibitions. Visit the various state's Govt. Emporiums at WTC for local wood carvings, brass ware, printed cotton from Nashik, traditional Marathi sarees and other souvenirs. The Central Cottage Industries Emporium (Apollo Bunder) and Khadi Village Industries Emporium (D.N.Road) with their fixed price tags, have authentic buys.

Go to Kemp's Corner, Warden Road, Breach Candy, Napean Sea Road, Fashion Street for trendy boutiques and western wear. For perfumes, walk into the famous Mohammed Ali Road that also has a splash of embroidery and Zari work besides artifacts and souvenirs. Bandra, the so-called Queen of Suburbs is where the Mumbai's top-shots reside and the adjoining Linking Road is agog with showrooms and Indian designer labels. And as you walk out, the pavements vendors offer both a contrast and a curious chance of frolicking about their interesting wares before you drive away to the comforts of your hotel.


Mumbai's multicultural lineage makes it a potpourri for the taste buds with delicacies from Goa, Mughal kitchens, Marathi flavors, Chinese, South Indian, Irani, Parsi and of course the local inventions like Bhel-puri (a snack of puffed rice, crisp noodles, chutney and chillies), Pao-bhaji (bun eaten with spicy cooked vegetables).

Gourmets, however, flock to the famed Khau Gallis of Mumbai. 'Khau', means to eat and 'Gully' means lane. And once you find your way to these lanes, you will realize, no other name would have done justice to the endless freshly made toothsome cuisine stalls bordering the sides of the lane. The cuisines include kebabs, baida parathas (kind of egg rolls), biryani, phirni (a rice and milk based pudding preparation), saviyia ki kheer (dessert made of vermicelli) and a lot more, we want you to explore and discover. Now, there are many of those 'Khau Gullies' in Mumbai and the to hunt them you need to remember (if you are tempted enough) the names of the localities - Zaveri Market, Mohammed Ali Road and Churchgate. But for those who has a special affinity for the term 'hygiene', it is advised to ignore this 'temptation', for such terms are typically alien to these roadside stalls. However, gourmets falling ill due to Khau Gullis is unheard of! And with some hundreds of Mumbaiites digging on those scrumptious palates, it is worth a try. What say?

The culinary voyage can have a safe sail at Viva Paschim (Maharashtrian food), Mahesh and China Garden (for seafood), La Rottisserie at the Oberoi, Zodiac Grill at the Taj and so on. Try India Jones & Opium Bar at the Oberoi Towers for the Pan-Asian cuisine and a dining experience with a difference.


* Luxury Train lores: Deccan Odyssey, the luxury train begins here in Mumbai and trails through the most exotic locales in Maharashtra like Goa, Pune, Ajanta, Nashik and so on. A week-long jaunt in this truly royal carriage you will be pampered in the traditional way as train hisses through beaches, forts, palatial ruins, sculpted caves and some of the off-beat tracks still waiting to be explored.

* Mumbai's Dibbawalah: Mumbai's network of tiffin deliverers (or dibbawalahs) is one of the largest in the world. And thanks to the Forbes magazine who selected them as a colossal example of success of six sigma (a term used in quality assurance if the percentage of correctness is 99.999999). The lunch-carriers make one error on every 16 million transactions, a fete achieved only by giants like GE and Motorola. Infact, two tiffin carriers were invited to the wedding of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

* Mumbai’s 189 crore Beggary Industry: Sure you have raised an eye-brow! One of the most thriving businesses here is ‘beggary’. And it is not just about spreading hands before people, the beggars are well-practised actors and master every art of gaining public sympathy. The revenue model and the food chain is so widely netted that it begins at those pennies/notes you drop at their spread hands and spans its way through many hundreds of pockets including those of local dons, politicians to underworld messiahs. For a sneak peek at what it is like, watch Bollywood’s famed director Madhur Bhandarkar’s flick “Traffic Signal”. A Mumbaiiya beggar is just not any-Beggar!


Caves : The Karla Caves, near Lonavla, built by Buddhist Monks with many halls and a huge stone stupa along with the 2000-year-old teak wood ceiling is where you can head to add a streak of pilgrimage to your trip. Also visit the Kanheri caves, one of the biggest Buddhist monastic establishment on the Konkan coast, situated in the center of Mumbai's Borivili National Park.

Hill-Stations : Just 101 km SE of Mumbai and 69 km from Pune, is Khandala, an exciting hill-station in the Sahyadri mountain range. And at 120 km from Mumbai is Lonavla, another beauty in the hills with the waterfalls of Tungarly or exciting treks at the giant hillock aptly named Duke's Nose. Panchgani is another interesting option, 6 hours drive from Mumbai on the road to Mahabaleshwar.

Alibaug : A ferry ride or a 2 ½ hr drive from Gateway of India takes you to a super cool weekend resort Alibaug, laced with a sequestered beach, two forts - Shivaji's naval bases - Colaba Fort and Diamond Fort.

Location :
In Maharashtra, SW of Delhi

Go there for :
Beaches, Gothic buildings, Luxury Train Deccan Odyssey

Climate :
22-33°C (Sum);29-19°C (Win)

When to Go:

Local Tongue:
Marathi & Hindi

Literacy :

STD Code :


  1. The Gateway of India can be a must place to visit while you are exploring Mumbai. A spot for a give a perfect ending for a perfect day with your loved once while tasting some Desi Chat items. events in mumbai

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