One of the most populated cities in the world, Mumbai is glaring in its extremes. Towering, gleaming structures sit alongside shanties, India’s colonial past side-by-side with its burgeoning future, overwhelming at times -perhaps, but boring? Never!
Mumbai (Bombay) is the city of dreamers, stalwarts and the common man. A vibrant combination of seven islands on the Konkan coastline join together to make for the blend that’s Mumbai (Bombay) tourism. Splendid Victorian architecture, urban lifestyle, business hullabaloo and the entertainment industry welcome you to this energetic abode.
Harboured magnificently in Gharapuri or Elephant Island, the sculpted caves are a labyrinthine lot of Hindu and Buddhist caves, the artwork is simply outstanding and can be easily categorized as one of the best amongst temple carvings in India. The art and architecture date back to as early as 5th century. From north to south is a deep ravine that passes through the island. Since the temple is most significant for Shaiva-Hindu sect, the main cave here is Cave 1, which houses brilliantly designed courtyards, pillars and shrines, along with the mammoth 6 m-tall statue of Sadhashiva, revered greatly by devotees across India. Apart from this, there are plenty of religious and artistic marvels to be contemplated upon and explored.
One of the most talked about places in Mumbai, Marine drive is really a promenade hugging the coast with its curve set in utter perfection from Nariman Point to Chowpatty beach, at the foot of Malabar hills. A walk along Marine drive as the evening melts into night and the sun dives beyond the Arabian Sea is must to have on your itinerary of things to do in Mumbai-an experience without which you cannot truly say you have been to and experienced Mumbai in its element.
As you eye the horizon, watching the sun sink, while the waves crash against the beautiful huge sea rocks, you can witness before your very eyes how the streets lights of Back Bay transform Marine drive into a length of flickering lights that appear as a choker of twinkling jewels fit for a Queen; hence the name, Queen’s Necklace.
This morning we visit Elephanta Caves: dating back to somewhere between 450-750AD, the rock-cut caves are a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos brimming with exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and located approximately an hour’s boat ride from the Gateway of India.
After a break for lunch, we take in the Gateway of India – one of India’s most endearing land-marks and the point where visitors originally arrived at the country, it also symbolises the former power of the British Raj. Perhaps sample bhelpuri (Mumbai’s favourite snack) at Chowpatty Beach along what is known as Marine Drive. Later visit the Rajabal clock tower, the Jain Temple and Dhobi Talao before delving into the Prince of Wales Museum where you have the opportunity to see some of the rarest, most ancient exhibits of Indian history.
Next, soak up the serenity of the Hanging Gardens, also known as the Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, which were laid out in the early 1880’s over Bombay’s main reservoir. We finish in Crawford Market, possessing has elements of both the Flemmish Architecture and looks like it would seem more comfortable in Victorian London.