|Facts and Figures|
|Area||468 sq. km|
|Languages||Hindi and English|
|Best time to visit||through out the year|
CITY OF DREAMS
Mumbai’s very name conjures up a host of visions: of glamour and megastars who hold millions in thrall, of some of the largest and worst slums in the whole of Asia, of industrialists and business houses, of a multifarious futuristic lifestyle that is likely to become even more intense as the city moves closer and closer to becoming the world’s second largest metro by the year 2015….
Mumbai (formerly Bombay), situated on the western coast of India, is the largest metropolis of the country. It is the capital of one of India’s most advanced states, Maharashtra.
Mumbai is pleasant during the winter (November-March) and hot during summer. The temperature is on the rise from the month of March until the monsoons break out in mid-June, which goes on until September. October offers a relief from humidity and heat.
Once a cluster of seven islands-Colaba, Mumbai, Mazagaon, Old Woman's island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel, and Matunga Sion-the home of the Koli fishing community is today the financial capital of India. The islands were ruled by a succession of Hindu dynasties, invaded by Muslims in the 14th century, and then ceded to Portugal by the sultan of Gujarat in 1534. In 1662, these islands were given to the English King Charles the Second, as a part of the wedding dowry for the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza. In 1668, Bombay was given to the East India Company. This was the time when foundation for a modern city was laid and Bombay eclipsed other port cities of western India in trading activities. In the 18th century, the city grew into a major port as the shipbuilding industry was shifted to Bombay from Surat. The American civil war led to the opening of the Suez Canal and cotton began to be exported from Bombay. Bombay played a formative role in the struggle for Independence, hosting the first Indian National Congress in 1885 and the launch of the Quit India Movement in 1942.
Bombay later became the capital of the Bombay Presidency that had to be divided into Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1966. "Bombay" was the name given to the islands by the Portuguese. The word means "good bay" in Portuguese. In 1996, Bombay officially came to be known as Mumbai. The present name derives from Mumbadevi, the goddess of the Kolis.
SITES TO VISIT
The Gateway of India was built in 1919 and opened to public in 1924. The ceremonial arch was built in 1927 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911. Historically, the gateway holds greater significance as the last of the British troops left Independent India by sea, marched through its portals. It is situated on the Apollo Bunder.
Nine kilometers by sea from Gateway of India, a ferry ride across the harbor takes one to the Elephanta Island. A Shiva temple on the island is a fine example of excellence in artisanship in rock-cut structures.
Built in 1914, the Prince of Wales Museum is surrounded by a beautiful landscape forming an ideal getaway from the bustle and hurry of the city. One of the best museums in the country, it is a treasure house of art, sculpture, china, rare coins, and old firearms. It also had priceless collection of miniature paintings.
Standing on a busy five-point intersection in the heart of the commercial fort area, the Flora Fountain was erected in the memory of Governor, Henry Bartle Edward Frere.
Haji Ali’s Tomb is a mausoleum built in the memory of Haji Ali, a Muslim saint who was drowned while on pilgrimage to Mecca. It is accessible by a narrow causeway.
Overlooking the Marine Drive are the beautiful Kamala Nehru Park and the Hanging Gardens.
Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus is an imposing structure formerly known as Victoria Terminus. It was built in 1888, designed by Frederick William Stevenson. The entire façade is covered by sculpture of animals and birds.
No visit to Mumbai is complete without a foray into the bazaars of Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar, north of Crawford market. Highlights include Mangaldas Market, Zaveri Bazaar, and Chor Bazaar. The Jama Masjid and Mumbadevi Temple are also worth visiting.
The Nehru Planetarium and the Nehru Science Center are located at Worli. Both are extremely popular not only with the children but also adults. Audiovisual shows are held here.
The Marine Drive is a winding stretch of road from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill with tall buildings on one side. This sweeping Queen’s Necklace, flickering with a thousand lights at night, turns into the main thoroughfare linking Malabar Hill-and the northern parts of the island-to the southernmost points of Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Nariman Point, and Fort.
The other places of interest are Taraporewala Aquarium, ISKCON temple, amusement parks like Essel World and Fantasy Land, beaches like Madh Island, Manori, Versova, Goral, Marue, and Juhu.
Excursion can be taken to Sanjay Gandhi National Park. This 104-sq-km protected area of forested hills on the city’s northern fringe has interesting flora, birds, and butterflies, and boasts a small population of tigers.
Another excursion can be of Bassein Fort; it is the atmospheric remain of the Portuguese fortified city of Bassein. The city walls are still standing and you can explore the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
FESTIVALSGanesh Chaturthi (late August-early September), Navratri (October-November), Gokul Ashtami (mid-August), and Holi (mid-March) are important festivals of Mumbai.
WHERE TO SHOPMumbai is India’s greatest marketplace and the opportunities for shopping are enormous. The main areas for the shopping are Crawford Market (fruit and vegetables), Mangaldas Market (silk and cloth), Zaveri Bazaar (jewelry), and Chor Bazaar. For handicrafts, one can go to the emporia at the World Trade Center or to Central Cottage Industries Emporium on Shivaji Marg. Clothes at cheap rates can be purchased from the Fashion Street.
HOW TO REACHMumbai is India’s international gateway. It has also the busiest domestic air network in the country. The international terminal is at Sahar, which is 30 km north of the city center. The domestic terminal at Santa Cruz is just 4 km away. The offices of most of the international and domestic airlines are situated around Nariman Point. Prepaid taxis are available from the airports to the downtown.
Mumbai is a prominent railway hub of the country. It is the headquarters to two railway zones, Central and Western. The main railway station is Victoria Terminal, now renamed Chattrapati Shivaji Terminal. Other railway stations are Dadar, Churchgate, and Kurla. Express and super-fast trains are available for most of the Indian cities from Mumbai.
WHAT TO EATMumbai has one of the best selections of the restaurants specializing in almost all the cuisines of the world. The cultural history of the city can be traced from the variety of food available in the city. From Parsi dhansaak to Gujarati thalis, and Muslim kebabs to Goan vindaloos, Mumbai has it all. During the summers, mango, especially the Alphonso variety, is a choice hard to resist.
|Indian Culture History|