Mumbai

Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai is the sprawling capital of the state of Maharashtra. A mega-city home to more than 20 million people - the largest city in India and the fourth largest city in the world - it is both the financial and entertainment capital of India. Its overcrowding is legendary, and the line between the physical space that rich and poor share is exceptionally blurred here; scruffy rickshaws crawl alongside chauffeured limos in the city's infamous traffic, while five-star hotels bump up against vast slums. Despite (or because of) it all, the city buzzes with a frenetic energy and, as the breakout film Slumdog Millionaire depicted, infectious hope. Mumbai is truly one of the most exciting destinations in India, offering contemporary art and high-end museums, terrific dining, historic architecture, and, of course, Bollywood productions.
Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai is the sprawling capital of the state of Maharashtra. A mega-city home to more than 20 million people - the largest city in India and the fourth largest city in the world - it is both the financial and entertainment capital of India. Its overcrowding is legendary, and the line between the physical space that rich and poor share is exceptionally blurred here; scruffy rickshaws crawl alongside chauffeured limos in the city's infamous traffic, while five-star hotels bump up against vast slums. Despite (or because of) it all, the city buzzes with a frenetic energy and, as the breakout film Slumdog Millionaire depicted, infectious hope. Mumbai is truly one of the most exciting destinations in India, offering contemporary art and high-end museums, terrific dining, historic architecture, and, of course, Bollywood productions.

Experiences

Beaches

While Mumbai’s beaches cannot compare to those of Goa and the southwestern coast, its sandy stretches are ideal places for picnics, walks, and exercises. For a glimpse of the sunset, head to Girgaum Chowpatti beach, where visitors can watch the sun dip below the horizon, unhindered by manmade and natural obstacles.

Bollywood

Thrust into the global spotlight by Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood is the colloquial name for the Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai. While Bollywood was preceded by the Bengali film industry based in Calcutta (called Tollywood), its infectious mix of musical numbers, elaborate sets and costumes, and colorful spectacle propelled it first to regional, and then international, renown.

Visit a Bollywood film set for a closer look at the controlled chaos that occurs behind the scenes.

Churches

Visit some of the old, well-preserved churches in Mumbai, some of which date back to the Portuguese occupation of the 16th century. Of these, the oldest is St. Michael’s, built in 1534 under the Portuguese, and home to “the Divine Mercy,” a portrait of Jesus reputed to bleed.

Other churches include St. John the Baptist, a ruined structure in western Mumbai, constructed in 1579; as well as St. Andrew's, a functioning church built in 1575 on the seashore of what is now the Bandra suburb of Mumbai.

Cotton and Textiles

Due to the trade embargo placed on the American South during the American Civil War, Mumbai became the world’s leading supplier of cotton in the 1860s. Today, Mumbai offers a plethora of cotton, fabrics, and other textiles, all of which can be made-to-order.

Ellora Caves

Encompassing a 1.3-mile escarpment, the 34 caves at Ellora are the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The caves at this UNESCO World Heritage Site represent three distinct groups – Buddhist, Hindu and Jain – and they are numbered from the southern end.

The Buddhist Caves (1 to 12) date from the Chalukya period, between the 7th and 8th centuries; the Hindu Caves (13 to 29) were carved out between the 7th and 9th centuries, and represent the peak of Ellora’s development; and the Jain Caves (30 to 34), which date from Ellora’s last stage and are the simplest of the group.

Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

Occuring over a span of 10 days in August and September, the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival celebrates the eponymous deity, who serves as the patron of arts, science and knowledge. For this festival, millions of Indians celebrate Ganesh in both their private homes as well as the public sphere, including raucous festivities, anointing and adorning special structures called pandals, and offering coconuts, flowers, and camphor to idols of Ganesh.

Malabar Hill

Drive through Malabar Hill, which is bounded by Napean Sea Road, Ridge Road and Walkeshwar Road. This leafy residential neighborhood is crowded with the high-rise apartments of Mumbai’s rich and famous. Houses here are amongst the most expensive in the world. An unhindered view of Back Bay, with the Girgaum Chowpatti beach in the foreground, and the Nariman Point skyline in the background is one of the reasons for the sky-high real estate prices in this district.

National Gallery of Modern Art

Visit the exhibition spaces that host some of India’s best art; a great place to spend an afternoon away from the tropical heat, the National Gallery of Art offers a look into the artistic and creative practices of elite artists from across the country.

Prince of Wales Museum

Explore The Prince of Wales Museum, renowned for its superb sculptures and miniature paintings. The museum's home is a grand Indo-Saracenic building whose foundation stone of this museum was laid by the Prince of Wales in 1905 and which served as a military hospital during World War I.

Victoria Station

Visit Victoria Station, the most impressive example of Victorian Gothic architecture in India. Designed by Frederick William Stevens and decorated by local art students and craftsmen, it was completed in 1888 and named to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Now the headquarters of the Central Railway, over 1,000 trains and 2 million passengers pass through the station daily. In 2004, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Travelogues

Beauty and Bedlam in Mumbai’s Hectic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Author
Ronan O'Connell

More like a cathedral than a train station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of India's most fascinating places to see the many sides of Mumbai.

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The Forgotten Gujarat Town of Sidhpur

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Sugato Mukherjee

The lonely town of Sidhpur in Gujarat is a mix of architecture, culture, and mythology, from the great warrior Parasurama to colonial corners built by merchants.

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The Jews of Mumbai: Bollywood and Bombay’s Blue Synagogue

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Sharon McDonnell

The history of Bombay is indelibly linked to the Jews of Mumbai, a legacy alive today in the culture and architecture of India's greatest city.

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Ritz-Carlton to Open in India’s Pune Ahead of Mumbai Launch

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Travelogues

Ahead of the grand opening of the Ritz-Carlton Mumbai, the brand has announced another luxury airport not far away in the lesser visited region of Pune.

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Indo-Deco: UNESCO Distinction for Mumbai’s Art Deco Architecture

Author
John McMahon

Walking through Mumbai, one might see buildings that seem more at home in Havana and Miami beach; this is Indo-Deco – India's Art Deco legacy.

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Luxury Guide to India Festivals in 2019

Author
Paris Ericksen

Seeing the festivals of India isn't difficult if you get a flight and a car, but to see it in style takes a little Remote Lands know-how. This luxury guide to India festivals will put you on the right track.

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