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Bombay incredible city of many faces, blog about India

Mumbai an incredible city of many faces

In this post I would like to share my personal experience from lots of visits in Mumbai - the largest city in India and the 12th richest in the world, which is also known as Bombay. Bombay, which is one of my favorite cities in India is the place which I usually travel to due to work - guiding a tour, visiting friends or settling some formalities in the Mumbai Foreign Office, and is always visited with a cheerful smile and a bit of excitement.

The city name was changed into Mumbai ( current name derives from goddess Mumba) in 1995 due to  the fact that the former name Bombay was associated with the British Raj or Empire - and it was viewed it has an unwanted legacy of the colonial period.

There is a general belief that big cities should be skipped due to continues noise, smog, too many people and constant traffic jams. In spite of all the inconvenience you can come across in such a great city like Mumbai, it is really worth staying there at least 2 days doing sightseeing and slowly falling in love with this mind blowing place.

The city is extraordinary for a few good reasons which I am going to specify placing some photos and videos

1 reason, Contrasts

Mumbai is a city which contrasts of India are the most noticeable and can be even spotted from the landing plane.

Very high skyscrapers, tower block of flats, British glamour from the 19th century next to simple huts and speeding  slum areas which take 7 % of the total city area.
It is worth adding that prices of real estates in Mumbai are on the list of top ten the most expensive in the world. People who want to buy a simple property in  Mumbai are forced either to pay huge amount of money for purchasing or renting an apartment in one of the tower blocks of flats, rent some  cheaper accommodation, commute to work from the remote suburbs, which takes hours during rush hours or choose to live in one of the simple huts  in the slum area.

2 reason, British glamour of the City

In Mumbai you can feel undoubtedly the ambiance of the Colonial times from British era. There are plenty of Colonial well maintained monuments, buildings and houses which make Colaba district one of the most atmospheric in the world. You can find spots like: 

Gateaway of India 

A famous and still used Railway station called formerly Victoria Station

The Clock Tower at Mumbai University (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus)

Taj Mahal hotel

3, Amazing  location of the city 

The city is called a city of seven islands linked with one another by the chain of bridges and this is truth indeed. The city is located on the western coast by the Arabic sea. The view of the sea  can be especially observed at the famous Marine Drive  - 3, 6 km promenade in the south Mumbai. 
There are also amazing bridges which make the experience of driving unforgettable. One of the famous bridges is called the Bandra–Worli Sea Link which is a bridge that links Bandra in the Western suburbs with the South part of the city which is considered to be the heart of the city.

4, Ambiance and people

The ambiance of the city is really unique and can't be compared to any town or city in the world. It is connected with the aforementioned location, visible contrast and people. People are really friendly here and exceptionally easygoing and tolerant. One must remember that the city  has around 22 million inhabitants and never ending traffic, density of 21000 per km 2  and is extremely multicultural.  Apart from the majority of Hindus  there are Muslims, Jewish, Christian, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and a the largest worldwide population of Zoroastrians which is around 75000 people (half of the world population).

5, Food in Mumbai  

Trying delicious food in Mumbai can not be skipped. In the city there is both a wide range of multi cuisine restaurants and food stalls with inexpensive Indian fast food. You can choose Colaba street famous bar and restaurant described in a famous  book Shantaram - Leopold cafe, drink tea at a famous 5 star Taj hotel with the view of the Gates of India and the sea. You can just go for famous Mumbai Burger called Vada Pao or eat thali at one of Indian fast food outlets or stalls.

Thali in Revival restaurant

6, Visit Dobi ghat 

Don't skip sightseeing famous outdoor Mumbai Laundry called Dobi ghat. One of the most famous is located next to Mahalaxmi railway station and can be easily seen from the flyover bridge of Mahalaxmi station. Hundreds of clothes from all over Mumbai are washed, scrubbed,dyed and bleached  here in the chain of corridors. Some of them are equipped with the washing machines and driers but most of the clothes are simply hand washed.

Short footage from Dobi Ghat

7,Join Dharavi slum tour 

Joining a Dharavi slum tour or just visiting the area of slums with the local guide is an unforgettable experience which will change your thinking about this place. Contrary to a popular belief  slums in Mumbai is not a place of extreme misery and  despair but a place of  of thousands of  production units bringing in an annual income of around $1 billion. Walking in Dharavi slums you can see industries  like textiles, embroidery, recycling, restaurants, pottery, bakeries and many others.
It is really hard to find so called beggars, unemployment is just 10 percent and education rate is around 80 percent. In fact, people don't live in  expensive flats with all the facilities but you can see that they have access to basic facilities, there are even local schools, places of worship, shops and food stalls.In many places you can spots  laughing children running  and playing cricket as well as people working in all types of small-scale industries.

One can say that by skipping such a place like Dharavi may equal missing an opportunity to find out the real face of this place which can be called a city in the city. If you want to see one of the biggest slums in the world go for a guided tour run by some local travel agency or choose a reliable Mumbai driver who can show you round. In the travel agency Paylesstoursindia we organize on request sightseeing of Dharavi slums with a Mumbai driver.

Dharavi from the road side

Dharavi hairdresser 

at the textile manufacture

Dharavi bakery

Local temple

8 reason, Hindu and Buddhist caves on Elephanta island and Gandhi National Park - Kanheri Caves 

There are hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu caves all over Mumbai. The most famous are on Elephanta island where you can get by boat from The Gates of India spot. The caves on UNESCO list were constructed between 5th and 9th century. The others are located in Gandhi National Park in the number of 109 small meditating caves. 

9 reason, Shopping in Mumbai

Visit such places like Chor bazaar where you can get all kinds of antique and vintage shops. If you want to get some designer and really inexpensive clothes you can go to Andheri Bazaar. You can also choose hanging out in Colaba Causeway to visit various  boutiques or  just buy some textiles at street stalls. The other famous street is Crawford Market and Zaverri Bazar if you are interested in buying jewellery.

10, Nightlife, Mumbai at night

If you find energy to continue exploring the city of Mumbai, make sure to leave it for the evening. Mumbai at night is an extremely atmospheric thanks to the lights of the city,still very lively and having extraordinary charm. Of course, you can go on a tour of Mumbai's pubs, clubs and bars, getting to know the nightlife of the city and its inhabitants, dancing to the sounds of Indian music, getting to know locals or trying Indian dishes.
You can also choose a more economical option, i.e. go for a relaxing stroll or a ride around famous places in Mumbai. Must visit Marine Drive, Victoria Station and the area around Gates of India with the Taj Hotel. You can go to the famous Juhu beach or Chowpatty beach to observe the life of the locals and try local delicacies - Indian street food.


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