7 exotic things to know about Mumbai

February 1, 2019

by Lidya Cherkezyan

Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is probably one of the most Europeanized cities in India. It is home to many multinational companies and international touristic hotspots. People from all over the world come to work in Mumbai. Nevertheless, this is still India and India is a unique country with its typical history, culture, people, food and bazaars. Here are 7 exotic things to know about Mumbai, not everybody will be familiar with.

 

Shantaram: the Bombay way of seeing the city

Speaking generally, it is always very interesting to look at countries’ development based on what colonial history it had. This very much distinguishes language, cultural, architectural and behavioral heritage the country has. India has long suffered from the foreign rulers, taking power one from another for nearly four centuries. The latest period India was a British colony. This is especially vivid in Mumbai, the city which was once called Bombay under the British power and Became Mumbai only in 1995. The name changed to strengthen the new identity of the independent city, but the story does not go long back and the Bombay is still alive in the city. Mumbai is more about the city being the financial and trade center, whereas Bombay is more about the city slums, small power groups and their lifestyle spread all over the city.

If you have read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, you may dive into different scenes from the book when walking in Mumbai. You will be happy to spot the Leopold Cafe in Mumbai and walk near the slums where the action took place.  If you have not read it yet, you can add this book into your luggage essentials, which will create a special flavor to your trip.

Dhobi Ghats: the hand-washed laundry in Mumbai

This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Mumbai. An absolutely unique spot of an open-air hand-washed laundry, which you can observe from the bridge of Mahalaxmi station. What you see there is a large area which is divided into a large number of concrete wash pens and a large (probably largest) number of washers actively soaping the laundry, beating it to the concrete pens, rinsing and drying. The process is very organized and reminds of a big laundry parade: fun, colorful, active and watery.

Dhobi Ghat’s customers are usually hotels, hospitals, and poor people. Since praying is not allowed in unwashed clothes, these people choose Dhobi Ghat as their affordable way of doing laundry. Although the price is so low, the business is one of the most profitable ones and belongs to one of the most influential castes of Mumbai.

Since this business is expected to get relocated, you should hurry up, if you want to see it.

Mumbai slums

Mumbai is a city of the very rich and the very poor. Some people still leave in slums and some people leave in “castles”. People don’t have food, but they pray in temples designed with most luxurious stones and gold. Mumbai is the financial capital of India and many rich have just grown out of the slum businesses and those castes still have the most power. The line dividing the richest and most poor can be just one street on which you will be walking as a tourist.

Parsis and their unique funeral rituals

India is a country of diverse religions- Hinduism, Muslim, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism and a large number of other minorities. Although Hinduism and Muslim comprise a vast majority, all religions are present, and their traditions kept. The most cultural place to learn the aspects of the traditions that people from different religious groups have are the temples they built. Parsis are the Zoroastrian community which came to India many centuries ago. They have a very distinctive culture and usually, they keep their territory away from other people. One of the most interesting things that Parsis have is the way of their funerals. Whenever a Parsi dies, people can learn about it from outside because of their unique funeral rituals. Parsis take the body of the dead and place him on the well covered only slightly to allow the vultures and other birds to consume the body. This is their sacred way of saying goodbye to the person who passed away.  

Mahatma Gandhi and the extreme views towards him

We all know Mahatma Gandhi as a hero, who led India to independence and his humanitarian quotes spread all over the world. It is interesting to know, however, that in India there are activist groups who do not share this view. But what can be the reason that some people today struggle to take his statue away from Mumbai and tell he is an antihero?
It turns out that Mahatma Gandhi was very generous towards many people and Hinduists, once constituting the majority of the nation feel betrayed by the large spread of Muslims and the role in the country and try to change the situation by protesting against Mahatma Gandhi.

Mumbai population statistics

According to the official statistics, Mumbai is the fourth most populated city in India with nearly 22 million urban population. However, if you think how the statistics are calculated, there is a big question of how they treat to the people living in slums or missing, which seems to be a big number and should have created a gap in statistics as well.

Marine drive

Although there is a lot to see and do in Mumbai, one to mention separately is the Marine drive and the spectacular view that opens as you pass by. The Arabian sea and the sunsets will be all you need for a perfect chill out. The coast is full of hotels and cafes, which offer the view you will admire at most. If you walk on the boulevard, you will see many students, couples, tourists, and locals enjoying the evening breeze at the seaside. The area is very touristic and you can enjoy the most variety of choice for cafes with local and international cuisine served.

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Nune

February 8, 2019

Definitely, I will visit Mumbai!