Tourist Information about Mumbai (Bombay)

Mumbai is the capital of Maharastra State and the gateway to this beguiling subcontinent. Of the four great cities in India, Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan, spear heading India's move into the 21st century.

The word Mumbai is derived from Mumbadevi, the patron goddess of the Koli fisherfolk, the oldest inhabitants of Mumbai. The name Mumbai, in its final form, dates back to the 18 th century. For Portuguese, the name Bombay is Good Bay ("Bom" "Bay" Good Bay). Mumbai is a cluster of seven islands. These islands of no great value were ceded to Portuguese in 1534 by the Sultan of Gujarat. The Portuguese in turn given these islands to Englands's Chareless II as part of the wedding dowry of Catherine of Braganza when she married Englands's Charles II in 1661. In 1668, the British government leased the islands to the East India Company for 10 pounds per annum in the form of gold and Mumbai grew gradually to become centre of trade.

Population (1991 census) : 12596000 (12.6 million)

Weather :Summer(April,May and June): Max. 33.3 C and Min. 22.7 C
         Winter(Dec, Jan. and Feb) : Max. 29.5 C and Min. 19.4 C 
Access : Mumbai is well linked to most parts of the globe by air. Domestic airlines link it to major towns in India. Mumbai is well connected to most major Indian town by rail. It is also connect to surrounding cities by road also. Maharastra Tourism Development Corporation and ITDC conducts tours in and around Mumbai.

Tourist Places in Mumbai

Many of the spots listed on the tourist guide books are taken for granted by the average Mumbaiite. Edifices are too familiar a sight in their daily lives to be seen afresh. Yet the rulers of the past have left an indelible stamp, and much of it stands in its glory for all to see and appreciate. The colonial architecture of the 19th century rubs shoulders with the 18th century wood carvings made popular by the Muslims of Gujarat. Gothic arches, canopied balconies, bas-relief panels combine with oriental domes and spiral staircases to lend character to the imposing buildings.

The historic structures are best seen after sunset when, awash in flood light, they gain momentous character and stand out as proud reminder of an era gone by.

Gateway of India
What could be more appropriate a beginning than the 'entrance' to the port of Mumbai? The ceremonial arch was built in 1927 to Commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911. Constructed in honey-coloured basalt, the gateway was designed by George Wittet, inspired by 16th century Gujarat Style. The changing light of the rising and setting sun gives varied hues of gold, russet and pink to the imposing arch. Historically, the Gateway holds greater significance as the last of the British troops left Independent India by sea, marched through its portals.
University Buildings
Founded by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Ready money, after whom is named the earlier of the two structures, was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott. Flanked by the High Court and the Old Secretariat, the buildings were completed in 1874. Resplendent in a florid and highly decorative French Gothic style, the main building with its turrets and gabled roof has a large circular window, with its outer border originally made up of twelve stained glass skylights, depicting the signs of the zodiac.
Mumbai High Court
This blue-basalt building in early English Gothic style was designed by Col. J. A. Fuller. It has central tower standing almost 180 ft. Two octagonal towers with their spiralets holding at their pinnacles two carved figures of Justice and Mercy are situated to the west of the central tower.
Sir J. J. School Of Art
Built during the same period as the University, its importance is heightened by the fact that Rudyard Kipling was born and spent his early childhood here. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was the Principal of the art school and under his tutelage, many local artisans received training. Some of their works were used to adorn the buildings being constructed in Mumbai during that period as sculptured panels and motifs.
Crawford Market
Rechristened as Mahatma Phule Market, it was built in 1871 by William Emerson. The bas-reliefs, at a height, adorning the facade, were designed by J. L. Kipling at the School of Art, a stone's throw away. It is the largest wholesale fruit market in the country and a visit there can be a 'fruitful' experience, especially during the mango season. But sadly, most of the vegetable & fruits are moving to New Mumbai's wholesale market.
Town Hall
With its columns and tall Grecian porticos, this structure has been the foundation of the Library Society of Mumbai which moved into the Town Hall in 1830, soon after which a union was effected with the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. One of its greatest assets is its library, a storehouse of knowledge, which may not have an equal in the east.
Flora Fountain
It stands at a busy five-point intersection in the heart of the commercial Fort area. The beautifully sculptured fountain was errected in the memory of the Governor, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, as a tribute for his contribution towards the building of Mumbai.
Hutatma Chawk (Martyrs Square) is the new name given to the area around it, as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the fight for setting up the state of Maharashtra in the Indian Union. The spot is also a popular landmark for the congregation of rallies and meetings - both political and apolitical.
Fort
This is the older, downtown area (with the Nariman Point reclamation being the newer commercial centre), surrounding the Flora Fountain. It gets its name from the fact that it was a part of the fortified city which were later considered obsolete and demolished during the time of the Governor Frere. A small portion of the wall is seen as part of the boundary wall of St. George's Hospital.
Shivaji Terminus
One of the finest examples of high Victorian Gothic architecture, it is the headquarters of the Central Railways and is one of the finest railway stations in the world.
Marine Drive
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.
Beaches
It is natural that a city surrounded three sides by the sea would offer handsome choice of beaches. Beginning from the southern end are:
CHOWPATTY (GIRGAUM)
Situated at the northern end of Marine Drive, it is a stretch of sandy beach and attracts hordes of people during the weekends and on holidays. A 'food-mart' of stalls have become a permanent feature and offer a range of eatables from 'bhel-puri'. The local speciality, to 'chaat', 'kulfi', coconut and other snacks. A larger portion of the terrain is left open for the public where people come to enjoy the evening sea breeze and the children to play. As a part of the city's cleanliness and beautification drive, Chowpatty is also being given a face lift. JUHU Situated 30 km from the city, it is a crowded beach with residential apartments and bungalows surrounding it. It seems as if the entire population of the area descends on the beach for a breath of fresh air! The central part has food stalls again, similar to Chowpatty. And a lot more, in terms of fun-rides for children.
Beyond the city are the relatively unspoilt, secluded beaches at Versova, Madh Island, Marve, Manori and Gorai. However, Versova is also seemingly going the juhu way, primarily on account of the density of highrise buildings that have come up in the recent years. The beaches at Madh and Marve have their dangerous spots which are marked by signboards. Care should be taken to avoid these zones. The spots further ahead, Gorai and Manori, two fishing villages, are accessible by ferry.

Museums

Prince of Wales Museum King George V, who as Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone of this museum in 1905. Situated near the gateway of India, it was designed in the Indo-Saracenic style to commemorate the King's first visit to India. During the First World War, it was used as a hospital. It was opened as a museum in 1923 and has three main sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. One of the best museums in the country, it is a treasure house of art, sculpture, China, rare coins and old firearms. It also has a priceless collection of miniature paintings.
The glistering white marble dome crowning this building can be sighted from a distance as it lies nestled amidst a well-laid out garden.
Timings: 1015 to 1800 hours except Mondays; Entrance: Rs. 3 per head; Tel: 244519/244484
Victoria and Albert Museum
Adjoining the Victoria Gardens, this museum built in the Greco-Roman style houses archaeological finds, maps and photographs depicting the history of Mumbai; Timings: 10.00 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nehru Museum/Planetarium
This museum, adjacent to the Planetarium, has a children's Science Park and a permanent gallery which has exhibits relating to the properties of life. A collection of a tramcar, railway engine, supersonic jet and steam lorry are also present. The Planetarium has daily shows except on Mondays. Timings: English - 3 p.m. & 6 p.m. Sat./Sun. 3 p.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Hindi 4.30 p.m.; Marathi 1.30 p.m. Entrance Adults Rs.5, Children (below 12) Rs 2 Tel: 493 2667/492 0510.
Mani Bhawan
A memorial to Mahatama Gandhi, who stayed at these premises a number of times between 1917 and 1934. It contains a collection of books on and by the Mahatama. A pictorial gallery captures the moments and events of his life. Timings: 9.30 a.m. 6 p.m.; Entrance: Rs. 2 Tel: 362 7864.
Victoria Terminus
This is indeed a terminus with a difference! Enormous as it is, one seldom misses it when in Mumbai. Over a hundred years old, this elaborate Italian Gothic structure was designed by F W Stevens, and is a terminus station of the Central Railway. The first train to steam out of Mumbai was from VT to Thane in 1853. Today, over half a million commuters use it everyday.
Chor Bazaar A literal translation reveals a shocking 'Thieves Market'. Located at Bhendi Bazaar, it is full of quaint shops selling object d'art, curios and antiques. With luck, one can pick up a genuine antique at a reasonable price.
Rajabai Clock Tower (Mumbai University)
This 280 feet clock tower is located within the gardens of the Mumbai University building. With its five elaborately decorated storeys it is indeed an impressive structure. About 30 feet from the ground is a frieze of eight statues depicting the various Indian castes. The top of the tower is crowned by 16 elaborate statues.