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Mumbai Travel Guide: Exploring The Old Bombay

Mumbai travel guide will be a cornerstone content for you to plan how to spend your time in Mumbai and explore the Old Bombay. Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra state of India and located near the Indian Ocean. During your time in Mumbai, you will experience the second most crowded settlement in the whole of India and also in the top 10 in the world. Maybe you heard the name Bombay which is the official name of Mumbai until 1995. British changed the most the traditional places name during their reign over India (British Raj). After the British left India in 1947, they start to change those names to originals in time. During your time in Mumbai, you will experience a very cosmopolite city with millions of people and lots of places to visit. Visiting Mumbai will be one of the greatest trips you’ve ever had. You may find the list of the sections in this Mumbai travel guide and directly read the you want.

You will see many people on the crowded streets of Mumbai (Source)

History of Mumbai

I think that it will be helpful to add some information about the history of Mumbai in this Mumbai travel guide for the people who are planning to visit Mumbai. It is not clearly known when the first inhabitant of Mumbai arrived in this area but it is clear that human history here goes back to the Stone Age. Around 3rd century, BC islands of the Mumbai were part of the Maurya Empire and it was ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka of Magadha. Between the 2nd century BC and 9th century AD area rules by various indigenous dynasties like Satavahanas, Western Satraps, Abhira, Vakataka, Kalachuris, Konkan Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas. Some of the great building which is called “edifices” were built during this reigns. After the 9th century AD, other dynasties ruled the Mumbai. The city also met with Islam of course. Between the 1347 and 1407 Muslim Governors of Gujarat ruled the city. These governors were appointed by The Delhi Sultanate.

Maurya Empire
The maximum extent of the Maurya Empire (Source)

Colonial Days

Like most cities in the world, Mumbai also met with the colonialist empires. Mumbai met with the Portuguese’s first at the year of1534. The Mughal Empire was the dominant power in India during the 16th century AD. But they had to sign a treaty with the Portuguese Empire on 23 December 1534, Treaty of Bassein. Based on this treaty seven islands of the Mumbai and strategic town Bassein left to the empire. On 25 October 1535 Portuguese Empire fully controlled these areas.  With the arrival of Portuguese also Roman Catholic religious orders came. They called the areas different names but finally, they chose Bombaim/Bom Bahai which means “beautiful gulf”.

During the 17th century, AD Dutch Empire forced the British to acquire a station in western India. On 11 May 1661, the marriage treaty of Catherine of Braganza and Charles II of England,  daughter of King John IV of Portugal, placed the islands in possession of the English Empire, as part of Catherine’s dowry to Charles. On 27 March 1668 England lend these places to the English East India Company for 10 sterling/annum.

The population of these places increase from 10.000 to 60.000 in 15 years. Places under the rule of English East India Company were under regular attack of the Mughal Empire and the Muslims. Power of England always grew in Mumbai. The city became the headquarter of the Bombay Presidency. From 1782 and after, the city started to reshaped with large projects and aimed to merge seven islands of Bombay into one which completed 1784. With the opening of Suez canal in 1869 Bombay started to one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea. 

The Indian Independence Movement and Quit India Movement started in 1942. With the effect of these movements and of course WWII India became independent. After independence, the Bombay Presidency became the Bombay State. From those dates city grew, grew and grew like the most of Indian cities. Today, Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and also a global finance city.

Illustration of British Rule over India
Illustration of British Rule over India (Source)

Climate of Mumbai

Another important part of the Mumbai travel guide is the climate of the city. Because the weather is crucial for your plan about visiting this unique and major tourist hub. Mumbai has a tropical climate both dry and wet. The city has around 7 months of dryness and peak rains during Jun, July and August. The temperature of the changes between 25 and 30 degrees. You can plan your trip to Mumbai by taking the climate into consideration. Because if you go there in the rainy season you may have to cancel some of your plans. It will be better to go there after the summer. And there is also another problem for Mumbai, air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, Mumbai’s air pollution level is 6.3 times higher than the recommended values. In order not to affect from weather and air during your time in Mumbai it is better to check it before going there.

It will be very rainy during the summer in Mumbai (Source)

Mumbai Airports

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport is the main international airport of the Mumbai. There is also another airport which for the domestic flights, Juhu airport the first airport of India. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has two terminals for domestic and international flights. But terminals are little far away from each other. Because of that many people tell that the city has two airports. Unfortunately and surprisingly Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has no railroad or metro connections. But you can take a bus or taxi to go airport or city centre. If you use the domestic terminal nearest station (rail) is Vile Parle (East), Andheri (East) for the international terminal.

Public Transport in Mumbai

Public transport is the foundation of any Mumbai travel guide. Because you need detailed information about how to get around in Mumbai. You will curious about public transport in Mumbai and have questions in your mind about it. Making the most during your time in Mumbai and getting around like crowded this city can be challenging of course. If you know the basics and follow the rules it will be quite easy for you.  Contrary to popular belief Mumbai has an excellent public transport system and it is cheap. You can use double-decker buses and black-yellow taxis to get around. There is an also suburban train system work 21 hour day. Trains not working between 01.00 and 04.00 am.

Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Company (BEST)

This is the best bus service in Mumbai and maybe in the whole of India. The bus network is huge and it works almost like a clock. You can think to sit on first seats of the second floor of double-decker buses (Red ones).  If you take those seats you will have a great view during the trip. Buses will be crowded during the rush-hours. Basically, these buses could be a nice alternative for Mumbai sightseeing.

Local Trains

Mumbai has a quite extensive rail network to get around. Local train works 21 hours during the day except between 01.00 and 04.00. Those trains carry around half millions of people every day. There are first and second class seats in these trains. The trains also separated as fast and slow ones. Fast ones only stop at the selective and main station which can be suitable for the tourist. Trains also have separate compartments just the women.

Double-Decker Buses of Mumbai
They are not brand-new of course (Source)

Places to Visit in Mumbai

In this part of the Mumbai travel guide, you may find the top 10 places to visit in Mumbai. Of course, there are more than 10 places worth to visit or see. But these are the most visited and popular ones. If you discover anything worth to let the world please share it on the comment section to increase the quality and content of the top 10 places to visit in Mumbai list. By the way, I think that 4 or 5 days will be enough to visit all places on this list.

Bollywood

Forget Hollywood! Bollywood is the new Hollywood! Bollywood is the capital of the Indian film industry. Eros Cinema is a great place to watch a Bollywood movie. Cinema is near the Churchgate railway station. You can also take a tour to visit Bollywood.

Eros Cinema in Mumbai
Eros Cinema (Source)

Elephanta Caves

The ancient rock caves of Mumbai is one the places you should see. Elephanta caves are located in Elephanta Island. The main cave devoted to Lord Shiva. Here became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

Elephanta Caves
You will witness the unique rock-cutting masonry (Source)

Heritage Buildings

There are lots of colonial buildings in Mumbai. You should spare some of your time in Mumbai to see unique buildings. Those buildings are called as heritage buildings. Some of them are the best architectural examples of colonial times. Must see heritage buildings can be listed; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum), the Kala Ghoda art precinct, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) railway station, the Bombay High Court and the buildings of Horniman Circle in the Fort area.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus has an extraordinary architecture (Source)

Haji Ali

The impressive Haji Ali is both a mosque and a tomb. Haji Ali built on 1431 by the Sufi and merchant Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Haji Ali also buried in the tomb located in the mosque. The mosque is only accessible with a very narrow walkway. Because of the mosque located over the ocean. I think that because of its unique position, Haji Ali Mosque has a unique place in the Mumbai travel guide.

Haji Ali Mosque
You need to take a walk like 500 meters through the narrow walkway to reach the mosque (Source)

Juhu and Marine Drive Chowpatty Beaches

If you get tired with people and crowd you can relax with the locals on the beaches of Juhu and Marine. Watching the sunset could be a great experience here. You will also find various local food and drinks. Roasted corn on the cob, pani puri, bhel puri and pav bhaji are the nice ones.

Juhu Beach in Mumbai
Beaches can be very crowded sometimes (Source)

Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat

Imagine a very big and public washing machine. Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat is something like that. Massive open-air laundry services are offered in here. Dirty clothes from all over the Mumbai is brought here and washes with hand. You will see the man called “dhobis” (washerman) working really hard.

Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat
Biggest laundry machine in the world (Source)

Kala Ghoda Art Precinct

Kala Ghoda is the cultural centre of Mumbai and means Black Horse which is a statue once located here. You will find very nice pavement galleries and cultural spaces in Kala Ghoda. Every year in February nine-day long Kala Ghoda Arts Festival held.

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Gateway of India

Another important cornerstone of the Mumbai travel guide is definitely the Gateway of India. If you ask what is the most famous landmark of Mumbai the answer is quite clear, Gateway of India. This great landmark was constructed in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the city.  It has also a historical meaning. Gateway on India is the place where the British troops departed, the witness of the end of the British rule over India and became an independent country. If you take a boat tour or arrive Mumbai from the Gateway of India will be the first thing you will see on Mumbai.

Gateway of India
Gateway of India (Source)

Banganga Tank

The oldest and ancient water tank is the Banganga Tank. It is also known as a Metamuse. Banganga Tank also part of the Walkeswar Temple Complex.

Banganga Tank in Mumbai
Oldest water reservoir in Mumbai is the Banganga Tank (Source)

Mumbai Travel Guide: Top 3 Tours to Join

Of course, you can get around at Mumbai by yourself of with beloved friends. By the way, joining a tour might be a great idea to experience and discover Mumbai in a very different way. Generally, people join the tour offered by their hotel at the Mumbai but arranging a tour before your arrival would be more better fro you. Because you have tons of time to read the reviews for each tour or overlook details. If you try to do this at your hotel you won’t have enough time and just join some of the tours. On below, you may find the top 3 tours that you can join during your time in Mumbai. Of course, there are tens of other tours. Just don’t forget to look at all of them before buying any of them!

Mumbai: Private Full-Day City Tour

If you want to discover all Mumbai with a private and full-day tour this one is for you. During the tour, a local guide who is speaking English will be with you. Mumbai: Private Full-Day City Tour will take around 8 hours, yes 8 hours! You will visit most of the important places in Mumbai, markets and experience how daily life in the city. Here are the highlights of this unique tour. To read the full description of the tour don’t forget to read Mumbai: Private Full-Day City Tour page.

  • Exploring the Kala Ghoda Art Precinct
  • Visiting the Gateway of India
  • Bustling markets of Mumbai
  • Regal Circle and the heritage buildings
  • World’s largest open-air laundry

Mumbai Temples and Caves Day Tour

You know how India is famous for its incredible temples and religious buildings. Mumbai Temples and Caves Day Tour is mainly focusing on these building and also the Kahneri caves where is also very famous among the travellers. This tour will take around 7 hours and you will have a private guide during the day. You may find the highlights about the tour below. Also, please visit the Mumbai Temples and Caves Day Tour page for full details about it.

  • Visiting the Global Pagoda
  • Exploring the Kahneri Caves
  • Free entry to all buildings except the Kahneri Caves
  • Free 1 bottle of water per guest
  • Pick up included

Mumbai Bollywood Tour

Bollywood is the new black! With its worldwide attention, Bollywood started to be a major place to visit by the tourist who came to Mumbai. If you are looking for a different experience during your time in Mumbai you may definitely think to join the Mumbai Bollywood Tour. During this 5 hour-long tour, you will have a chance to watch some movie-making effort at Bollywood. Take a look for the highlight and don’t forget to read the Mumbai Bollywood Tour page for full description.

  • Professional art historian guide
  • Hotel/port pick-up and drop-off
  • Bollywood Costume Gallery
  • Bollywood Museum
  • Free bottled water

 

Your time in Mumbai will probably pass in once. Try to experience and fell everything in the city, cosmopolite life, different cultures and lifestyles, historical buildings, commercial zone and more. Please share the thoughts and suggestions about the time your time in Mumbai to help others who are thinking to visit this huge city. Also please share your insights to improve the content and quality of the Mumbai travel guide. However, if you didn’t like the tours above you can use the widget below to discover all tours in Mumbai that you can join! In addition to all this don’t forget to take a look at the WeCityGuide | Asia to discover more places to visit in Asia.

 

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