Mumbai is the leading commercial city of India, located on the western coast of the country and is the capital city of Maharashtra state. Often tagged as the city that never sleeps, the city was formerly a cluster of seven islands. In 1498, the Sultan of Gujarat presented these seven villages to the Portuguese who built a fort here. In 1661, the small settlement was handed over to the British as the dowry of Catherine de Braganza who married Charles II. He leased the islands to the British East India Company. They built a fort here and the city later grew around this fort. Mumbai owes much of its development to its port facilities which attracted traders, entrepreneurs and migrant workers.
The city was earlier called Bombay and in 1995, the name was officially changed to Mumbai, which according to many, was the original name of the city. It is the largest metropolis in India. The city covers an area of 603 sq km and has an approximate population of 18 million.
Mumbai consists of seven islands which are joined together. The British started reclaiming land from the sea amidst these islands. Today, the elevation of the city varies from 10 to 15 meters. However, the city rises to a maximum elevation of 450 meters in northern Mumbai. The city is located on the Arabian Sea at the mouth of the Ulhas River and covers most of the Salsette Island whose remaining area is covered by Thane which actually forms a part of the Mumbai Metropolitan region. There are two big lakes in the city, namely Tulsi and Vihar and numerous small rivers like the Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara.
The city has a tropical wet and dry climate. Summers are hot and humid while winters are cool and dry. Heavy rainfall occurs during the monsoons from June to October.
How to reach (transport) :
Mumbai is very well connected to the rest of the country as well as the world. You can fly to Mumbai from a number of destinations in Asia, Europe and America. The city is served by the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport which is located about 28 kms away from the center of the city.
You can travel to almost anywhere within the rest of the country from Mumbai by train. The city has two main terminals at the Mumbai Central and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or VT. Long distance buses also connect several domestic destinations with the city, but their operation is vastly reduced during the monsoon months.
When it comes to internal transport, the local trains are its lifeline. Spread across 465 km, the suburban railway in Mumbai operates approximately 2,500 train services and carries above 7.24 million commuters regularly.
When to visit :
The best time to visit Mumbai is between November and February when it is cool and the humidity is at the minimum level.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and traditions :
Mumbai has a cosmopolitan culture. Vast variety of people lend diverse color to this city.
Several festivals are celebrated in the city. Some of them are :
- The Banganga Festival is a music festival organized at Banganga Tank in Malabar Hills in the month of January. Live classical music is performed by the leading artistes of the country.
- The Elephanta Festival is an open air cultural show of live dance and music performances performed at the beautiful Elephanta caves in February or March.
- Gudi Padwa is the Hindu New Year is a day of worship, homes are decorated with intricate rangoli designs. Bamboo staffs are decorated with silk cloths and brass goblets to ward off the evil.
- Narial Purnima or coconut day is observed in August by the fishing community. It marks the end of monsoon and beginning of the new fishing season. Coconuts are offered to the sea god, boats are painted and decorated with garlands as they embark on fishing journeys.
- Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in August or September and is definitely the largest festival of Mumbai. It is the worship of Ganesh – the Hindu elephant headed god of wisdom. Huge idols are erected and lights and flowers are used for elaborate decoration. On the last day of this 7 to 10 days festival, thousands of people walk to the sea shore to immerse the idols with much fanfare.
- The Bandra Fair is held on the first Sunday following 8th September to commemorate the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
- Deepavali (Diwali) or the Festival of lights is another important event, celebrated in October or November.
Points of interest (places to visit) :
There are a vast number of things to see in Mumbai. Some of them are :
- Gateway of India is the most iconic landmark with immense historical value. It was erected as an arch of triumph on the occasion of the visit of king George V. The turrets and intricate lattice design makes it a beautiful monument.
- Bhuleshwar is an area in south Mumbai not to be missed. This place has the famous Mumba Devi temple which is full of interesting shops and the famous Zaveri bazaar.
- The Elephanta Caves are hewn out of solid rock and contains shrines, courtyards, halls and intricate sculptures of Hindu religious significance.
- The Juhu beach is one of the must visit landmarks in Mumbai. This beautiful beach epitomizes the culture of the city with a number of stalls of street foods for which Mumbai is famous. The mansions of celebrities of the Indian Film Industry as well as the business elite are located along the Juhu beach.
Apart from these, the Mumbai museum of Natural History, Kanheri Caves, Marine Drive, Chor Bazar, Hanging gardens, Banganga etc are important landmarks.
Mumbai offers a wide range of accommodation to make sure you have a pleasurable stay in this city. These include five star hotels like Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Leela, Taj Mahal Palace etc while four star hotels include Shalimar, Gordon House, Sun ‘n’ Sand, Fariyas etc. The three star hotels include Godwin, Grand, Astoria etc. a vast number of budget hotels and two star hotels offer cheaper accommodation in the city.
Facts About Mumbai
|Latitude and Longitude||18.9647° N, 72.8258° E|
|Population||18,414,288 (Census 2011)|
|Area||603 sq km (233 sq miles)|
|Time Zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Postal Codes||400 001 to 400 107|
|Area Code||+91 (India) 22 (Mumbai)|
|Airport Names||Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport|
|Points of Interest||Bombay High Court, Essel World, Gateway of India, Haji Ali Dargah, Elephanta Caves, JW Marriott Mumbai, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai, Regal Cinema, Wankhede Stadium, Tikuji-Ni-Wadi, Kanheri Caves, India Tower, Prince of Wales Museum, Elephanta Island, Mahalakshmi Temple, Shivaji Park, Nehru Science Centre, Global Vipassana Pagoda, Eros Cinema, Mumba Devi Temple, INS Vikrant (R11), Jehangir Art Gallery, Jijamata Udyaan, Aksa Beach, Girgaum Chowpatti, Taraporewala Aquarium, Mount Mary Church, Bandra, Nehru Centre etc.|