Mumbai : India's City of Dreams
January 1, 1970
by Anurupa Roy
Welcome to Mumbai.
As one gets off the plane on a hot summer afternoon, a sudden breeze hits their face. The subsequent thought that hits them as they exit is “Oh my! This wind is going to blow me away!”
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is one of the most prominent metropolitan cities in India. It has an area of 603.4 square kilometres, with most of its perimeter surrounded by the Arabian Sea. It is the biggest entertainment and economic centre of the country. People from all over the country come here in hopes of making a name for themselves.
Mumbai’s humid weather, though not too hostile, unless you have hair like Monica’s (F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reference), could be a little difficult to get used to at first. It rains heavily for 4 months, namely in the months of June, July, August and September, and they are very unpredictable at times. In the morning, it may be nice and sunny. And suddenly before you know it, the sky is blanketed with grey clouds and the rains pour down. The Mumbaikars, as they call themselves, are quite used to it by now, I think. Because once they’ve got a taste of this enchanting city, people rarely want to leave.
Being the Entertainment Centre of India, also known as Bollywood, Mumbai houses many of India’s film stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, and many more. People travelling in leisure often, to their joy, find these stars walking around in the streets of the city. There are many sightseeing agencies that provide people with a “Bollywood Tour” of the city, which include visits to some of the film studios, witnessing a film shoot, learning about the Indian film industry and also driving around in the neighbourhood where the stars live.
Dharavi Slum Tour
Another popular tour that the city provides is the “Dharavi Slum Tour”. This provides a tour of one of the largest slums in the world. Yes, you’d probably think “why would I want to see a slum”? But trust me, it’s very interesting to see how these people live. The tour takes place on the streets of the slum, as a walk, or as a drive in an air-conditioned car, although the best experience of the tour is the 2.5-hour walk especially in the winter. The tour covers an intriguing expedition in the narrow lanes, shops, industries, local community centres and helps us learn how people coexist in such congested spaces.
Popular Tourist Spots:
Mumbai, as it is a metropolitan city, has a lot of other tourist attractions as well, where people can go at their own free will when they want to go around the city
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is one of the most popular tourist sites in Mumbai. It is an arch monument built in the booming area of Colaba, to commemorate the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. It is one of the most celebrated sites which provides a striking view of the Arabian Sea. An excellent way to spend the time here is to visit the Gateway, click pictures, and later have lunch or dinner at the Taj Hotel which is right in front of it. If you’re looking for a quick bite, you’ll find numerous street vendors, ready to provide you with the famous street food of Mumbai.
Another sought after tourist spot is the Elephanta Caves. It is situated 10 kilometres from the Gateway of India on an island. The only way to reach there is by boats or ferries which you can board from the Gateway, unless of course if you can swim all the way in the sea. These caves are rock-cut sculptures depicting the Hindu and the Buddhist religions. The tour, however, can be a little exhausting, since there is a lot of walking and climbing. But once you reach the end, the view of this spectacularly carved heritage site is exceptional.
15 minutes from the Gateway of India is the Marine Drive, a 3.6-kilometre Boulevard. It is a noted hangout spot for many including families, romantically involved people, or even singles. It provides one with an astounding view of the sea with an endless stretch of water. People often come here to spend time with themselves, contemplate on life maybe, gossip amongst their friends or just introspect. It’s a great place to just sit and stare at the vastness of the sea and find peace amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
From Marine Drive, as one drives onto Tardeo, a lot of buildings will come into view, when suddenly they’ll notice a stunning building on the left, a formation of displaced rectangular blocks kept on top of each other, supported by columns. This is the Antilia, the residence of Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman of Reliance Industries. It is one of the most expensive buildings in Mumbai, and in India and has 27 floors and a staff of 600 people to maintain the residence.
United Services Club
Another picturesque complex in Navy Nagar, in the midst of the army and navy housing societies, is the Club of the United Services. It is not really a tourist site since it’s not for the public. One cannot get in unless you know someone from the army or the navy who lives there. But if they are lucky enough to know someone here, they can enter this enticing club. When you walk into the club, you wouldn’t know what you’ve walked into. One enters through a magnanimous gate with a long stretch of road up ahead and green grass on either side of the road for the first few 100 metres, which is basically a golf course. The best part of this stretch is that one can walk, drive or cycle on that stretch to the driving lot at the end. As they reach the end of the stretch marvelling at the beautiful green around it, they eventually enter a beautiful resort-like area with palm trees around. This space then opens into the Arabian Sea which spreads right in front of it beautifully. A walkway runs along the edge of the sea lined with a stretch of palm trees on the other side of the walkway.