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Mumbai Travel

Introduction
Bombay, or Mumbai as it is now called, is the commercial capital of India, a city of entrepreneurs, concrete towers, clubs and discos, cricket, Bollywood and more. The city, a cluster of seven islands, was named by its natives after the goddess Mumbadevi. After the Portuguese gained possession of the islands in 1534, they renamed it Bom Bahia, for the natural harbour, which served as a safe haven for its ships. The promise of business opportunities and religious freedom drew people to Bombay from all over the country. As the migrant population burgeoned, land was reclaimed, and the city began its haphazard metamorphosis from a trading post into a metropolis and industrial hub. Today, Mumbai is the country's financial and cultural centre. It is also home to a thriving film industry. It is seen, to the teeming masses that flock there to live and work, as a place where opportunities abound. Its inhabitants, an amalgam of great wealth and abject poverty, are swept into the endless maelstrom of activity that characterizes this city of dreams.


Places To See
Chowpatty Beach :
Mumbai's famous beach is no place for a sunbathe or a dip. In fact, there's not much going on at Chow patty at all during the day, but in the evening it develops a magical atmosphere as locals come to stroll among the balloon sellers, nut vendors and beach entertainers. Eating bhelpuri at the collection of garishly lit stalls on the edge of the beach at night is an essential part of the Mumbai experience, as is getting a vigorous massage from a malish-wallah. Chow patty is a great place to witness the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in August/September when large images of the elephant-headed god are immersed in the murky sea.

 

Crawford Market : The colorful indoor Crawford Market (or Phule Market) is the last outpost of British Bombay before the tumult of the central bazaars begins. It used to be the city's wholesale produce market before this was strategically moved to New Bombay. Today it's where central Mumbai goes shopping for its fruit, vegetables and meat.

Bas reliefs by Rudyard Kipling's father, Lockwood Kipling, adorn the Norman-Gothic exterior, and an ornate fountain he designed stands buried beneath old fruit boxes at the market's center.

 

Marine Drive : Built on land reclaimed from Back Bay in 1920, Marine Drive runs along the shoreline of the Arabian Sea from Nari man Point past Chow patty Beach to the foot of Malabar Hill. It's one of Mumbai's most popular promenades and a favorite sunset-watching spot. You certainly won't be loitering on the sea wall long before you're engaged in conversation, even if it's with someone offering to show you how well their monkey can break dance. The promenade is lined with decaying Art Deco apartments just begging for a paint manufacturer to prove what their product can do to brighten up an area. Tourist brochures are fond of dubbing it the Queen's Necklace, because of the dramatic curve of its streetlights at night. It's less spectacular during the day, though there are plans afoot to beautify the area.

 

Fort : The extravagant Victorian Gothic buildings in the Fort area reinforce the European roots of the city, and send shivers of recognition down the spines of visitors from the industrial cities of northern England. This lively area occupies the site of the old British built fort and is the established commercial center of Mumbai. It's jam packed with commuters, street stalls and the grand facades of 19th century British institutions and trading houses.

Victoria Terminus, the city's most exuberant Gothic building, looks more like a lavishly decorated cathedral or palace than anything as mundane as a transportation depot. Carvings of peacocks, gargoyles, monkeys, elephants and British lions are mixed up among the buttresses, domes, turrets, spires and stained-glass windows. Topping it all is a 4m (13ft) high image of 'Progress' - though the rest of the building looks more like a celebration of Pandemonium. Don't wait until you have to catch a train to see it.

 

Malabar Hill : On the northern promontory of Back Bay is the expensive residential area of Malabar Hill, favored for its cool breezes and fine views over Back Bay. The colonial bungalows that peppered the hillside in the 18th century have now been replaced by the jerry-built apartment blocks of Mumbai's nouveau riche. The formal Hanging Gardens (or Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) on top of the hill are an interesting spot to study the courting rituals of coy Indian couples nestled among the bestial topiary, and there are superb views of the city from neighboring Kamala Nehru Park. Beside the Hanging Gardens, but carefully shielded from view, are the Parsi Towers of Silence. Parsis hold fire, earth and water as sacred so do not cremate or bury their dead. Instead the bodies are laid out within the towers to be picked clean by vultures (or crows). Elaborate precautions are taken to keep out ghoulish sightseers.

 

Towards the southern end of the promontory is the temple of Walkeshwar, the Sand Lord. According to the Ramayana, Rama rested here on his way to rescue Sita in Lanka and constructed a lingam of sand at the site. The original temple was built about 1000 years ago, though the current structure is much more recent. Just below the temple is the Banganga Tank, which was built on the spot where water spouted when Rama shot a bana (arrow) into the ground. Bathing pilgrims and scores of curious kids make this neighborhood an oasis from the world of luxury apartment blocks towering above.

 

Mani Bhavan (Gandhi Memorial) : Mahatma Gandhi's residence in Bombay between 1917-34 has been converted into a museum, which displays pictures and books related to his life.

 

Main Attraction.. Bollywood
The world's movie capital is not Hollywood but Bollywood. Bollywood is the nickname for the Indian film industry located in Bombay (now known as Mumbai, though Mollywood hasn't quite caught on.)

 

Indians are in love with movies, even though most films follow a similar format called mas ala (the word for a collection of spices). Movies are three to four hours long (and include an intermission), include dozens of songs and dances (featuring 100 or so choreographed dancers), top stars, the story between the songs of boy meets girl (without any kissing or sexual contact), lots of action (though no bloodshed), and always - a happy ending.

Bollywood films are being shown in American and British theaters on a more and more frequent basis. These theaters have become community foci for the South Asian communities around the world. Though separated by a vast distance from home, South Asians have found Bollywood films to be a great way of staying in touch with their culture and their fellow South Asians.

 

Mumbai (Bollywood) leads India in film production, its specialty lies with Hindi movies. Chennai (formerly Madras) produces films in Tamil and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the Bengali movie capital. Neighboring Pakistan's Lahore calls itself Lollywood.

 

Bollywood's film production center is a government-owned studio facility known as "Film City" in the northern suburbs of Mumbai. Bollywood traces its start to 1911 when the first silent Indian feature film was released by D.P. Phalke. The industry boomed and today there are over 250 theaters in Mumbai alone.


Travel Information

By Air : Mumbai beats Delhi, Kolkata and Madras for international air traffic. Almost all major International airlines operate direct flights to and fro Mumbai. Mumbai airport serves as a major hub, and connects almost all parts of India.

By Rail : Mumbai is connected by super fast trains to almost all major cities of India.