Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India’s largest city and one of the largest cosmopolitan metropolises in the world. Mumbai is India’s melting pot with people from all over the country - and the world - converging to live harmoniously. This city is the perfect representation of the country’s dichotomy: symbolised by the presence of Bollywood in the city, Mumbai is also host to India’s largest slum population. The city itself is huge, sprawling in every direction, and this makes sightseeing in Mumbai much more exciting. From the rock cut caves of Elephanta to Dobi Ghats to Marine Drive to Gateway to India, Mumbai has it all and more.
Research the weather before buying your ticket
Before you visit Mumbai, it is best to know what season and weather condition you’re getting yourself into. The best time to visit is during the Winter (between November and February). Humidity is less at this time of the year and the climate is pleasant; minimum temperature is 17 degrees. This is in contrast to the summer’s humidity, which is unbearable at times - even for the locals. June to September is the monsoon season and the city gets lashed with heavy rains. If you want the best experience of Mumbai, avoid it at all costs during this time.
South Mumbai is your go-to spot in the city
One of the first things you must see in Mumbai is the Gateway to India situated in South Mumbai. Located near the infamous Taj Mahal Hotel and in the district of Churchgate, the Gateway has significant historical and cultural importance to the country with Indians coming from all over the country to catch a glimpse of this beautiful piece of architecture. Some of the most famous museums and art galleries in India are also located in the southern part of the city. The Kala Ghoda in South Mumbai is littered with them, particularly the Princess of Wales Museum; the National Gallery of Modern Art. The Jehangir Art Gallery is also worth going inside. All of these attractions can be seen within the span of a day, as they’re closely located to one another.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is located close to the Gateway to India and is a beacon of hope for many Indian villagers who came to Mumbai to look for work. The red facade complements the brass grills and the large entrance clock denoting the exact time are all iconic images in Indian societal history. Close to the main train station is Marine Drive - an arc-shaped promenade and focal point of South Mumbai. Stay here for the sunset as the lights come on showing tribute to Queen Elizabeth and her infamous necklace - the drive’s lights were created in honour of her.
Bollywood’s the place to be
Mumbai is also known world-wide as the birthplace and host of Bollywood - the Indian equivalent of Hollywood with a far larger reach. Plan a trip, if you can, to Film City located in Goregaon and enjoy the first-hand experience of Bollywood shooting. Make sure you go online (link at end of article) and book this in advance as there’s a high possibility that you may not be allowed in if you just show up on the day. Having entered the lavish lifestyle of the Bollywood elite, you might get a little jealous but don’t fret as Mumbai is a shopper’s paradise. Mumbai is worth visiting just for the hustle of the shopkeepers, the madness of the markets and the rich aroma of fruits. Kemp’s corner, located again in South Mumbai is where you could buy antiques at rock bottom prices, second-hand books for dirt cheap and hand-made jewellery, clothes and furniture for prices that are almost always too low.
Dhobi Ghats makes you appreciate your washing machine
No trip to Mumbai is complete without experiencing the Dhobi Ghats. It’s a world-famous open-air laundromat where clothes come in from all over the city (mainly hospitals and hotels) to be washed, dried and laundered in a massive public space. Located next to the Mahalaxmi Railway Station, the Dhobi Ghats is a must-see tourist attraction in Mumbai.
Ensure that you keep your wits about you in Mumbai
Like with any other metropolis, Mumbai has crimes, but if you have your wits about you, it’s an easy city to visit. Most foreigners are left to their own devices with locals more curious than anything else. Beggars will approach you frequently, but if you keep your electronics safe and your pockets checked, there isn’t anything to worry about. A relatively safe city; one that the locals treat with more respect than foreigners, Mumbai is a dream to visit and should be high on anyone’s itinerary when visiting India.
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