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Mumbi- Luxury Travel Destination of India

Its young, its lively and a confluence of varied cultural currents and cross currents have given Mumbai a unique position of the most multi-ethnic city of India. The capital city of Maharashtra State formerly known as Bombay lies in the southwestern part of India and occupies a peninsular site originally composed of seven islets lying off the KONKAN COAST of western India. Oozing with the cocksure self-confidence of a maverick moneymaker and "Bindass" (carefree) attitude, Mumbai is also country's financial and commercial hub and has a principal port on the Arabian Sea. Yet, there's another face of Mumbai too that is of the most densely populated cities in the world. Mumbai is located on a site of ancient settlement and took its name from the local Goddess "Mumba" - a form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, one of the principal Gods of Hinduism - whose temple once stood in what is now the southeastern section of the Mumbai city.

Mumbai Fort: The area north of Colaba is known as Mumbai Fort, since the old British fort was once located here. There are a lot of impressive buildings from Mumbai's golden period here. St. John's church, dedicated to the soldiers, who laid down their lives in the Sindh campaign of 1838, and the first Afghan war of 1843, is also worth a visit.

Marine Drive in Mumbai: Marine Drive located in the central Mumbai, built in the 1920s and 30s on land reclaimed from the sea, is Mumbai's most famous thoroughfare. It is also referred to as the Queen's Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night. Recently it has come to known as Netaji Subhashchandra Bose Road with Nariman Point on one end to Babulnath, at the foot of Walkeshwar on the other.

Gateway of India: Mumbai's principal landmark, the Gateway of India is a huge archway on the water's edge at Apollo Bunder. It is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. This famous monument was built to commemorate the visit of the first ever British Monarch, King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

Flora Fountain/ Hutama Chowk: This fountain situated in the heart of the city was erected in 1869 in honour of a British Governor of Bombay. Sir Brtle Frere. Flora Fountain marks a junction of five streets and known as the 'Picadilly Circus 'of Mumbai, which is decorated at its four corners with mythological figures, the Fountain is a structure in dull stone with a figure the Roman Goddess of flowers, at the top.

Victoria Terminus/Western Railway Station: At the site of the Koli's original temple to Mumba Devi now stands Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus - one of Mumbai's most prominent buildings and architecturally one of the finest stations in the world. It is built in a style that combines Gothic and Indian influences. It was completed in 1885. Designed by F.W. Stevens the building commenced in 1878. This Italian gothic Building has a frontage of over 15,00 feet. The administrative offices form three sides of a rectangle enclosing an ornamental garden, the entrance gate guarded by a massive stone Lion and Tiger. The most prominent feature of this building is the high 160 feet dome crowning the centre. On top of the giant dome is a figure of a women with a torch held aloft to symbolise progress.

Mumbai High court: An attractive building in early English Gothic style, situated next to the Oval Ground is well worth a visit for its impressive architecture. Statues representing Justice and Mercy surmount the Central structure.

Rajabai Clock tower: Rajabai Clock tower, situated at the gardens of the Bombay University building rises above the portion of the library section. Consisting of five elaborately decorated storeys the tower is 280ft.in height. The top of the cupola is ornamented with sixteen statues depicting various Indian castes.

Hanging Gardens in Mumbai: Also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, the Hanging Gardens were built in 1880 and renovated in 1921. These gardens are popularly known as Hanging Gardens, because of their location on the slope of a hill. The terrace garden looks south from Malabar Hill towards Colaba, and affords a panoramic view of the city or a breathtaking sunset. It is built over three reservoirs, which store 30 million gallons of water pumped here for cleaning before being supplied to the town.

Mumbai Film City: Mumbai is the hub of Indian film industry, which has played a pivoted role in the development of cinematography. "Bollywood", as it is called, produces the second most number of pictures in the world every year, next only to Hollywood, U.S.A. Mumbai claims to be the world's largest production centre for films.

Juhu Beach: Juhu is one of the largest and frequently visited beaches of India. Located 18-km north of the city centre, it's a beckoning beach on the shores of Arabian Sea and is one of the posh localities of Mumbai where one can find the bungalows of the famous film personalities. Many shootings are held here too.

Chowpatty Beach: Chowpatty beach situated at the end of Marine Drive has a moderate expanse of sand and is the only beach in the central part of Mumbai. One can witnesses many Hindu religious ceremonies taking place at Chowpatty like the Annual Thread-Tying Ceremony initiating young boys into the Brahmin caste, 'Nariel Purnima' towards the end of the monsoons and 'Ganesh Chaturthi' immersions.

Dhobi Ghat: unique feature of Mumbai, the dhobi is a traditional laundryman, who will collect your dirty linen, wash it, and return it neatly pressed to your doorstep. All for a pittance. The "laundries" are called "ghats": row upon row of concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. The clothes are soaked in sudsy water, thrashed on the flogging stones, then tossed into huge vats of boiling starch and hung out to dry. Next they are ironed and piled into neat bundles. The most famous of these Dhobi Ghats is at Saat Rasta near Mahalaxmi Station where almost two hundred dhobis and their families work together in what has always been a hereditary occupation.

Kamala Nehru Park: This is a park in India covering an area of 4,000 sq yd (3,300 m²). Located at the top of Mumbai's Malabar Hill, it is named after Kamala Nehru, the wife of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. A place frequently visited by schoolchildren, it has little to offer by way of entertainment apart from a structure shaped like a shoe. The shoe structure is inspired by the nursery rhyme "There was an old woman." From the garden, one can see the spectacular view of the city, Chowpatty Beach, and Queen's Necklace (Marine Drive).

ELEPHANTA CAVES:

The Elephanta Island is the site of the magnificent Elephanta caves, containing beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 11 km from Mumbai and are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island of Elephanta, being a commercial, military and religions centre for centuries has traces of early Buddhist culture.

The Elephanta caves are thought to date back to the Silhara kings belonging to the period between 9th - 12th centuries. With the Brahminical resurgence during the reign of Gupta dynasty in 3rd century AD, these great cave dedicated to Lord Shiva exploded into existence at Elephanta. Legends and history suggest that the great warrior prince of Chalukya dynasty Pulkesin ll raised the shrine to celebrate his victory. Some historians also suggest that these caves were built by the Kalchuri King Krishnaraja in 6th century AD.

As the worship of the figure of the Buddha began to be encouraged with rise of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, a shrine was introduced to house Buddha's image, replacing the cells at the centre of the back wall. The Monasteries of Ajanta lead us directly to Elephanta.

An Exquisite Ensample OF Rock-Cut Artistry

No doubt the cave was the creation of an unknown genius, a master architect, who having thoroughly absorbed and assimilated the magnificent contribution of his predecessors in the dual traditions of the independent free standing sculpture and rock-cut architecture, produced a monument which introduced a whole new world of form quite distinct from any previous achievement.

The island was the capital of the powerful coastal kingdom and the excavations of the caves in the 6th century added to the glory of the kingdom. Later the Portuguese took possession of the island and as they first found a monolith elephant the island was named Elephanta.

It is believed that the caves were used as target practice after they constructed a fort and put a flag to ward off pirates. Whatever the cause may be, many of the sculptures have been desecrated. From the Portuguese, the British captured the island and tried to find out who had build these caves, but failed. The British planned to take the monolith elephant to England but they could not lift it. It is now kept in the Bombay Museum.

The island rises in two conical hillocks. The architect sculptors carved out of solid basalt rock create a representation of the heavenly mountain residence of Lord Shiva. Opening out from three sides, the temple lets in light from many angles making the sculptures seem to move with the changing angles of light.

Inside the temple is a large hall, with nine sculptured panels representing Lord Shiva in different moods. The temple plan is so symmetric with important focal points worked out in a geometric Mandala (the design that represents the energy field).

Flights of steps, which can prove to be very daunting, take one to the caves. One can also hire a chair to be carried up. Today the caves can be easily approached, but think of the time when the artisan used only the contours of the hill to reach the top and then chiselled out the basalt rocks to give it the shape of heavenly abode of Shiva. He has tried to create the cave similar to the one in which Shiva resides in the Himalayas.

The pillars inside the cave give an impression that these pillars support the roof. Again the cross beams on the roof makes the visitor feel there is a ceiling of the caves. The pillars have been deliberately kept simple as to attract the attention towards the exquisite carvings on the panels, which are nine in number. There are three opening to the caves, which allows light to enter from various angles in different seasons giving an expression that the images are moving with transition of light.

DHARAVI SLUM TOUR.

The Dharavi tour leaves from a central location in Mumbai and takes you through the heart of the slums, teaching you its history, bringing you in contact with its people and introducing you to its way of life.

You will first explore the industrial area of Dharavi, which has approximately, 15000 single tenement business units. These industries generally serve Mumbai and many products are even distributed in global markets resulting in $1 Billion annual production which comes from recycling industries, heavy metal works, garment industries, luggage, Jewellery etc.

While passing through the residential areas, you will also see some local homes where they also conduct their daily occupation, you will see local youngsters, women washing clothes and going about their day to day life, also you could see them making local goodies such as “popadoms”. You can see the living conditions of the locals here as well there is the possibility of being invited into the home of a local where the guide will help you to converse with the residents directly.

The guides will be more than pleased to answer your questions raised during the tour, so that you can also "Feel as Local", experiencing actual conditions of the people of the slums.

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