This comprehensive guide to Mumbai will send you back in time to shake hands with the ancient Koli community, and also with a Bollywood star or two in the present time.
It will help you figure out the neighborhoods, transportation, and the attractions. You will also get restaurant recommendations and tips. Mumbai is huge, hot and humid during the summer, and rains cats and dogs during the monsoon.
Mumbai was a collection of islands where ancient Koli tribes lived. Over the years, due to land reclamation projects of the Protuguese and the British, Mumbai became one large island.
The British got the islands as a gift of marriage between Charles II of England with Catherine of Portugal. They administered it until 1947 when they left through the Gateway of India in a ceremony.
Mumbai metropolitan region has a crazy population of 20 million people while the Mumbai city has 12 million souls already. What’s in plenty here? Sea water, people, vada pav, politics, Bollywood movies and interesting things to do.
Getting into Mumbai
Mumbai welcomes you, and shows you its extremes. Here are the ways you can arrive in Mumbai:
It has the second highest passenger traffic in India. International passengers will arrive at the T2 terminal and there are four levels at the airport.
Level 4 and 3 are for international and domestic departures respectively.
Level 2 is the arrival sections. If you are here, welcome to Mumbai (India).
Level 1 is where you can book your transport options like taxis and book a hotel room. From here you can make your way out to find other transport options.
Make sure you look up to see the peacock inspired roof while exiting the airport. If you are catching a domestic flight, you can get a shuttle service to it. There is a parking section for about 5000 vehicles for a “small” fee.
Transport options from the airport:
Suburban railway: This is the fastest way to travel and fills to the brink during peak times.
For domestic terminal – Ville Parle (E) – from here take a bus or a taxi to traverse 1.5 kilometers to or from the domestic terminal.
For international terminal – Andheri – from here take a bus or a taxi to travel 4.5 kilometers to or from the international terminal. There is metro available at Andheri, get off at Marol naka and then travel by bus or a taxi.
Mumbai metro: It is small network but useful. The existing metro line runs by the airport.
For Domestic terminal – Western Express Highway
International terminal – Airport road
City buses: The airport is connected by expressways that you can use to get to anywhere in the city.
Getting to the airport might be a problem during the peak times. You must leave 2 – 4 hours ahead of your check-in time.
BEST and Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport operates air-conditioned buses to certain places in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai respectively.
Taxis: The black taxi of Mumbai is legendary and expensive but it is a good option if you have a huge rucksack that you cannot handle on trains and buses. See below for taxi fares.
2. Train stations
The commuter and suburban trains share the same rails as the inter-city trains. Here are some of the train stations where you can take the local transit.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus (code: CSMT): CSTM is a UNESCO World heritage site and is a HQ of the Central Railways.
Victoria terminus was built in place of the Bori bunder station in 1888 in honor of Queen Victoria. In 1996 it came to be known as Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus and the name was changed to Chhatrapati Shivaji maharaj terminus in 2017.
Seven platforms out of the 18 are for the suburban trains (of Central and Harbour line), and 11 are for intercity trains. Transport options from this station are:
The bus bay outside the terminus has buses to the South and to the West of the station.
Taxis: Taxis take you to any destination in Mumbai. There are share taxis available to the Colaba area.
Mumbai Central (code: MMCT): Mumbai – Delhi Rajdhani express terminates here along with several other intercity trains from Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bhatinda among other cities.
Long distance buses are available at the Mumbai Central bus terminal which is at the walking distance.
Lokamanya Tilak terminus (LTT): Named after Balagangadhar Tilak, a social reformer and Independence movement leader, there are plans to lighten the load of the Dadar station by constructing more platforms.
Bandra terminus (code: BDTS): Intercity trains bound on the Western line terminate here where you can access the banks, schools and other organizations at the Bandra – Kurla complex.
It is also a stop for suburban trains of the Harbour and Central line. Buses and taxis are available outside the station.
Not all trains enter Mumbai city. Some important stations outside the city are:
Panvel (code: PNVL): Panvel is in Raigad district of Maharashtra and an entry point to the neighborhoods of Navi Mumbai. Some trains from Kerala, Haryana, and Delhi, including the Thuiruvananthapuram Rajdhani stop here.
It is the terminal of the suburban network’s Harbour line. The Navi Mumbai transport has bus services to Navi Mumbai’s and Mumbai’s neighborhoods.
Kalyan (code: KYN): Kalyan is a city in Thane district and is part of the metropolitan region of Mumbai. There are eight platforms for both long distance and suburban trains of the Central line.
Thane (code: TNA): Thane station is busier than the CSMT and serves Thane West. The first passenger train in India ran from the CSMT to this station.
Arriving by bus is not a popular option, especially if you are arriving mid day when there are gridlocks.
However, private buses do not stop at the Mumbai Central, but at some points all over Mumbai. Buses stop at suburban train stations on request so that you can take the trains to your destination in the city.
Getting Around Mumbai
Mumbai has a good railway and road transport infrastructure. There are epressways, junctions that you can use to save time and avoid traffic. Transport options within Mumbai metro region are:
1. Mumbai Suburban railway
This is the lifeline of Mumbai. Most Mumbaikars take the public transport. Trains have second class, first class (10x costly) and ladies (men not allowed) compartments. They have fast and slow locals. Fast locals skip few stations.
Both Central and Harbour lines start at the CSMT.
Harbour line takes the Wadala road > Kurla > Chembur (interchange to monorail) > Vashi (interchange to Trans-Harbour) > Nerul (interchange to Trans-Harbour) > Belapur > and terminates at Panvel. It joins the Central line at Kurla.
Western line starts from Churchgate and takes Mumbai Central (bus terminus) > Dadar (interchange to Central) > Bandra > Andheri (interchange to metro) > Borivali > Vasai (interchange to Vasai – Diva line) > Virar > Dhahanu
2. Mumbai buses
Six bus companies operate bus services in Mumbai. Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) operate double decker and single buses.
Although double deckers are the city’s favorite, you are lucky to ride in one because their number has decreased.
Navi Mumbai transport operate non-AC buses from Navi Mumbai to Mulund, and then AC buses to Bandra, Dadar, and Borivali.
Out of city limits, Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Transport (KDMT in Kalyan and Dombivli), Thane Municipal Transport (TMT in Thane), Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Transport (MBMT in Miya and Bhayandar) and Vasai-Virar Municipal Transport (VVMT in Vasai and Virar) operates buses.
3. Mumbai metro
Mumbai metro’s 11.4 kilometer line supplements the suburban train network. It connects you from the Eastern suburbs to the Westen suburbs with a vital link to the airport.
4. Mumbai monorail
Another transit system that is a supplement to the suburban train system, it traverses through the industrial and the harbour area and to South Mumbai which is 20.21 KM long with 17 stations.
Chembur (interchange with Harbour line) > Wadala depot > Wadala bridge (interchange with Harbour line) > Dadar (interchange with Central and Western line) > Lower Parel (interchange with Western line) > Jacob circle
5. Taxis & auto rickshaws
BBC’s Top Gear raced with Mumbai’s Ambassador taxi and left taxis from the rest of the world behind in a pile of dust. CNN’s blog about Mumbai’s taxi sums up everything about how is it to ride Mumbai’s taxi.
How’s the Kali – peeli (Black and yellow) taxi’s fare?
Non AC cabs – ₹22 for first 1.5 KM and ₹13.96 for every kilometer.
AC cabs – ₹23 for first 1.5 KM and ₹15.50 for every kilometer.
They charge you an extra 25% between midnight and 5 AM. Sometimes they fix your price and you can use the numbers above to calculate on your own and agree at a price.
Auto rickshaws have a similar pricing and the blog post about taxi may sometimes apply to rickshaw drivers. You can ride in them in the suburbs but you will not find them in South Mumbai because the roads are narrower and few vehicles are enough to cause traffic congestion.
It is ₹22 for first 1.5 KM and ₹14.84 for every kilometer. There is a waiting charge of ₹1.5 per minute.
6. Boats & ferries in Mumbai
Ferries and catamarans are few in numbers and the wait time for another one to come is long. Trains and buses help you travel far and wide, but ferries only cut across creeks between islands. You can access the Elephanta caves from the Gateway of India.
7. Mumbai darshan
Mumbai has private tour operators offering you to take you in and around Mumbai. They have tour plans based on where you start from. The tour usually starts at 6 in the morning and end at 8 at night.
They charge you ₹800 or upwards for a ride in a non-AC bus and upwards of ₹1,500 for a ride in an AC bus. Some attractions they manage to show you are Mahalaxmi temple, Bandra – Worli sea link, Chowpatty beach, Wankhede stadium, homes of Bollywood stars among others.
You will have a guide in the bus introducing you to the city attractions and they do not entertain latecomers be it at the start of the tour or at the attractions.
8. Walking in Mumbai
Walking is one of the best ways to see South Mumbai where the attractions, restaurants and bars are close by. Walkers and joggers use the Nariman point – Chowpatty promenade for mornings walks and jogs.
20 million people live in the metropolitan region. There is an explosion of middle class and there are extremes too. India’s richest man lives in a $1 billion home and the poorest live in chawls which are apartment buildings with a single rooms for a family and a toilet for the whole apartment.
People who can afford to live in nice homes are in neighborhoods with jacked up real estate prices.
The middle class live in apartments that have facilities like gym, gardens, and it could be near schools and colleges. People celebrate festivals together in apartments and chawls alike. Ganesha chaturti is the people’s favorite festival. They have huge idols of Lord Ganapati in different areas often competing with each other in size and grandeur.
Owning a car in Mumbai is futile because of traffic congestion and you’d be better off traveling in public transport despite overcrowding. Business districts where people go to work are at Nariman Point, Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai, Bandra – Kurla complex and Malad.
Job opportunities are limited and there are lots of people competing for the same job for which people can be easily trained and replaced. They only take their weekly off on Sundays, sometimes not.
People do not mind working extra to make extra money. Overall, Mumbaikars are passionate about life and live a fast pace of life. During their free time they watch movies, watch sports, or visit their friends and family.
It is true when they say that in Mumbai nobody sleeps hungry. No doubt only those who are enterprising and those who work hard survive and make some money.
Mumbai is cosmopolitan and people learn to embrace the new just like in Bangalore. Living in this city along with Marathi speakers are the speakers of Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali and others, while Hindi and English are the uniting language.
Food in Mumbai
No one sleeps hungry right? Why? Survival is one of the reasons, and the other is the food itself. They are delicious and some dishes are made with few ingredients.
Mumbai’s street food
Every Mumbaikars favorite. This can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Most of these are inexpensive and sold on the streets and in high end restaurants.
Pav Bhaji is a serving of hot bread with thick vegetable curry. The vegetables are mashed and is spicy. (Recipe)
Vada Pav is an Indian burger which has deep fried potato fritter in between two burger buns. The road side vendors serve it with spicy green chutney. (Recipe)
Misal pav is a vegetable curry made of sprouted moth beans, onions, and tomato. People of Maharashtra eat it for breakfast with bread. (Recipe)
Batata Vada is nothing but a simple potato fritter. Potato is cut, dipped in chickpea flour, deep fried, and served with chutney. (Recipe)
Sabudana vada – Sago or tapioca pearls is deep fried with potato cutlet served with chutney. (Recipe)
Samosa is a fried dish with fillings. Filling range from mashed potato, fried onions, noodles, scrambled eggs and others (Recipe)
Breakfast in Mumbai
These is what most Mumbaikars start their day with.
Poha is a dish made of flattened rice, onions and potatoes with mustard seeds, spices and coriander. (Recipe)
Channa bhatura is a Punjabi dish. This mouth watering dish is chickpea curry served with puri. (Recipe)
Baida roti is a fried roti with coating of eggs and filled with mince meat. (Recipe)
Egg items in Mumbai are available in plenty and here are list of places for those irresistible egg dishes.
Kheema pav is a version of Vada pav. Instead of potato, it is filled with mince meat, either of chicken or lamb. (Recipe)
The assortment of eatables come in all colors and quantity. Some of the favorite lunch items are:
Maharashtrian thali – When in Mumbai, order a Maharashtrian thali, especially at Dadar.
Goan food – Rice, seafood, meat, pork, and spices are some of the main ingredients of Goan food. There are places in Mumbai for authentic Goan food.
Udupi cuisine – Udupi or udipi restaurants serve vegetarian South Indian meals. Here is the list of top Udupi cuisine restaurants.
Sizzler – Mumbai is one of the homes of the steam spewing and curry spitting dish and there are many places you can try out a sizzler or two.
Prawns koliwada is crispy golden deep fried prawns with mix of red chilli powder, ginger – garlic paste, masala and spices. It originated from a Koli fisherman village. When it turns red on the grill, you know its ready. (Recipe)
Parsi cuisine – Navroz or no Navroz, you must try dishes like the Dhansak and Patra ni machi. Here are legendary restaurants serving Parsi food.
Chicken/Mutton kolhapuri – You will need to cook enough for a second or a third serving. Its that delicious. (Recipe)
Kebabs – Mumbai has many restaurants serving juicy cut pieces of chicken, fish or goat meat that is cooked on a skewer.
Bombil fry – Bombay duck is not a duck, but a fish. Bombil in Marathi. It is shallow fried fish coated with suji/rava. (Recipe)
Jhunka bhakar – bakar is an Indian bread or jolada rotti in North Karnataka. It is eaten with Jhukna which is gram flour mixed with water and sauteed with oil. (Recipe)
Maharashtrian Varan bhat – Rice and lentil curry topped with ghee is what this is aout. (Recipe)
This is not the complete list of food available in Mumbai. And no visit is complete without meeting the Butter chicken and some Punjabi cuisine.
There are dessert shops all over Mumbai. Here are some of the popular ones.
Puran poli is pan fried whole wheat flour rotis stuffed with sweet lentil and jaggery mixture. (Recipe)
Staying in Mumbai
Space is a constraint in people’s homes and in a premium. If they have some, they list it on Airbnb. Sign up using the link to save ₹1,200 on your first booking.
For budget backpackers/travellers
Top backpacking hostels in Mumbai are Zostel, Basti Backpackers Hostel, Bombay Backpackers, Wowstel, Bollywood BnB, Backpacker Panda (Colaba & Andheri), Horn Ok Please, Bombay Rooms, Airport hostel (near the airport), Cool stay and Arma Hostel
Guide to Mumbai City
In this guide, you will learn about the neighborhoods of Mumbai, along with what to see and do, and where to eat. Plan your visit and save money for your next adventure.
South Mumbai (दक्षिण मुंबई)
South Mumbai is one of the oldest parts of Mumbai and the poshest. The British administration had their offices here. There are affluent homes here and offices of big corporations.
Colaba (कुलाबा) & Cuffe Parade (कफ परेड)
One of the seven islands of Mumbai, the Koli community knew this neighborhood as Kolabhat. Candil, Colio and Colaba are later name changes. High-end restaurants, retail outlets and cafes are plentiful in this area.
Recognizable by most people, it is a historical landmark for Mumbai built with yellow basalt and concrete in 1924. The British used this arch to leave on their boats in 1947 in a ceremony.
Although the monument is gated and locked, you can see its central dome, an arch and a huge hall inside when you get close enough. The other side of the arch has footsteps out to the sea.
Opposite to the gateway is the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, and the statue of Swamy Vivekananda flanks the gateway to the left. The pigeons feeding on grains are generally undisturbed by visitors. There are ferry services at the jetty for tourists.
This heritage hotel also served as a hospital during the First world war and is a hotel worthy of Mumbai. In November 2008, terrorists took hotel guests and employees hostage and killed more than 30 people. They were gunned down by special forces that included Sandeep Unnikrishnan.
Set of cave temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is a UNESCO World heritage site off the coast of Mumbai. All these sculptures would have taken the Rashtrakutas and other kings that rules over the island a few centuries to complete.
Statues tell stories of Lord Shiva and shows him in different forms like the Nataraja, and Yogishvara. There are seven cave temples in total with lot of artwork and ancient pilgrim resting facilities. The island hosts the Elephanta festival of music and dance.
Head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay, it is a heritage building visited by popes in the past. They came bearing gifts. The glass paintings, frescos and the architecture are the attraction here.
Gardens with running/jogging/walking track, green cover and some cool air are in plenty with lots of acres on them. Colaba Woods, Sagar upvan garden, and Kohli stadium are some of the huge lung spaces in Colaba.
Sasson dock is a 142 year old fishing port with a fish market. St+art India Foundation with help from Asian Paints and several artists from around the world transformed this place into work of art with murals, installations and other art experiences.
The Better India has details of the art works on display. It has given a renewed energy to people here.
Cuffe Parade is the site of the World Trade Center, Mumbai built in 1970. It was at one time the tallest tower in Asia at 150 meters.
Original business district during the colonial days that was protected by Fort George. It was dismantled in 1865 after the city grew.
Kala Ghoda art district is the most famous neighborhood that hosts art galleries. The Kala Ghoda arts festival is a nine day art festival started in 1999 which is a good time for art lovers to hangout.
Cultural and theater performances, food, cooking and art workshops are part of the festival. There are reasons why this festival is a must attend.
Ballard Estate is an European style business district hosting offices of shipping companies and quaint European style cafes.
Undoubtedly the grandest train station in India, this Victorian era building it is a UNESCO World site. Different floors of the terminal building has different styles of architecture signifying that it was added in different eras, and has retained its structural integrity.
During the November 2008 terrorist attack, this train station bore the brunt as AK-47 wielding terrorists killed people at will until they were all neutralized or captured.
The Azad Maidan next to the station hosts sports matches, political rallies and protests.
In 1954, the Jehangir Cowasji Hall was built to host concerts. It was converted to an art museum where works of famous painters are exhibited.
Established in 1922, the museum exhibits artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilization, ancient empires of the Rashtrakutas, Guptas, Chalukyas and the Mauryas.
Off late, it added new galleries that has interesting displays. Despite many renovations, the garden has retained its original plan.
Jehangir art gallery was founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir in 1952. The paintings are vivid and vibrant. Samovar is a 70’s cafe that shows the 70’s culture of Mumbai. Natesans is an antique dealer shop in the building.
Opposite to the Jehangir art gallery, there is the David Sasson library and reading room with interesting architecture and a nice collection of books. The back garden is used for book readings and book sales.
8 AM to 9 PM; CSTM
Rajabai clock tower was constructed in 1878 and was the tallest tower in Mumbai. Modeled after the Big Ben, it features stained glass windows and a clock that reminded people of dinner. The damaged part of the structure was repaired and restored recently.
It was built in 1718 in honor of St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. It now belongs to the Diocese of Mumbai of the Church of North India.
The cathedral underwent many restoration works throughout history and saw additions of a clock and a tower. People following Anglicanism pray at this church.
Nariman Point (नरिमन पॉइंट)
Nariman point is a relatively new neighborhood that stands on the land reclaimed from the sea during the World War and until the 70s. It is an expensive business district today and many businesses have offices here. The area’s Trident hotel was under attack during the Mumbai seige in 2008.
Marine drive that starts here is also called the Queen’s necklace because of the lights at night resembles a necklace when viewed from the sky. People come in the evenings with family for the view and the street food.
NCPA has five theaters in the premises spreading over 32,000 sq. feet. It owns the Symphony Orchestra of India that performed the Beethoven’s 9th symphony in Moscow. It hosts theater groups, classical Indian and Western music concerts.
Churchgate (चर्चगेट) & Marine Lines (मरीन लाइन्स)
Churchgate got its name from the gate of the walled-city of Mumbai that protected the Mumbai castle 200 years ago.
Marine lines was a British military establishment that now hosts an Air force residential quarters.
It was India’s first sporting stadium but the administration let event managers use it to host musical concerts. It hosted test cricket, football, and Davis cup tennis matches in the past. Lata Mangeshkar performed in a concert here and some of the famous people who addressed a crowd here are Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Krushchev, Pope John Paul II and Lata Mangeshkar.
India won its second cricket world cup glory in 2011 in this stadium in front of 45,000 strong audience. It was built in 1974 and is a prime ground for cricket in Mumbai.
Cross Maidan is next to the Azad maidan separated by the Mahatma Gandhi road. The old stone cross built by the Portuguese in the 16th century lent the ground its name. The ground hosts cricket and football matches. Khau galli and fashion street are near by.
Malabar Hill (मलबार टेकडी)
Malabar Hill is an upmarket residential area with a cooler climate and some of the poshest buildings. It hosts the official residences of VVIPs, and homes of business moguls.
Raj Bhavan and Glenogle, Maharashtra’s official residences of the Governor and Chief Minister respectively are in this neighborhood.
Tower of Silence, the burial site of the deceased Parsis is a restricted area for non-parsis. The body is left in the open to be consumed by vultures.
Also known as Ferozshah Mehta gardens, they are terraced gardens that provide a nice view of the Arabian sea below the hill.
Kamala Nehru park opposite to the Hanging garden is a huge lung space usually visited by children and parents. The Old Woman’s shoe, a shoe like structure is a popular play area for children.
Walkeshwar temple is a historical temple that is enveloped by skyscrapers. The temple is situated on the highest point in the city and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It was built by Lakshman Prabhu of the Silhara dynasty in the 12th century and was first called the Baan Ganga temple. The lake next to it took this name. Portuguese and Malabari sailors frequented the area. The temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and was rebuilt in the 17th century.
According to the legend, to quench Sita’s thirst, Lord Ram’s brother Laxman shot an arrow with his baan (arrow) to the ground and created a tributary from the Ganga to this tank. The fishes in the tank loves bread.
8AM to 7:30 PM; Charni road
Built in 1904, Adishwarji jain temple is the most visited jain temple in Mumbai. It belongs to the Shwetambar sect. Adishwarji was the first tirthankara of the sect. There are carvings and paintings on the temple walls and ceiling.
Cumballa Hill (कुंबाल्ला हिल), Tardeo (तादेव) & Girgaon (गिरगाव)
Cumballa hill have homes of billionaires and the localities have high real estate prices. This is on the Mumbai Darshan’s itinerary along with Malabar hill. Many countries have their consulates here
Tardeo is a business district and a residential neighborhood. The neighborhood witnessed old buildings being torn down for new buildings.
The neighborhood of Girgaon has a mixed culture where people speak different languages and follow different traditions.
Kotchiwadi is a heritage village with Portuguese style houses and narrow lanes and is one of the offbeat places in Mumbai. It is included in some of the Mumbai walking tours.
Mahalakshmi & other seaside temples
It is one of the oldest temples in Mumbai, you can hear the waves when there is some silence in the temple. Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasarawati are the temple deities.
It was built in 1831 after the chief engineer dreamed of the idol in the sea. He had it recovered, installed, and then built a temple. There are temples for Lord Ganesh and Lord Ram in the complex.
It is a mosque and a tomb on an island 500 meters off the coast built in 1431 in honor of Sayyed Haji Ali Bukhari, a merchant from Uzbekistan. After traveling the world he gave up his belongings, went to the Haj pilgrimage, and then settled in Bombay. Devotees perform Qawwali at the dargah every Friday.
The Marine drive promenade culminates at the Girgaon Chowpatty beach. It is a popular beach and is featured or mentioned in the movies.
Although the water here is polluted beyond measure, people come there for kala katta, bhel puri and other street food.
Mani Bhavan was Mahatma Gandhi’s Mumbai residence during the freedom struggle. Gandhi and his associates planned and executed many protests here. The museum has pictures and items telling stories of the freedom struggle.
9:30 AM to 6PM; Grant road
Construction workers or kamathis came from other parts of the country in 1795 and settled in this area and called it Kamathipura. While Byculla and Tardeo became an upper middle class neighborhood, Kamathipura became a neighborhood of the working class.
Women from Europe and Japan were brought here as sex workers to service British businessmen. After independence, it still served as place for Indian sex workers. Women involve themselves in small scale industries to survive.
If you are here, you can help sex workers by joining one of the NGOs who rescue under age sex workers. Girls below legal age are trapped and worked as a sex worker.
NGOs educate sex workers about health, provide treatment, de-addiction and counseling services, and provide skill and training.
NGOs in Kamathipura- Mumbai District AIDS Control Society is a government organization. Navjeevan Centre, Bombay Teen Challenge, Stop Sex Slavery, Oasis India and The Salvation Army are some of the NGOs. Google search will reveal NGOs and their work.
Bhuleshwar (भुलेश्वर) & Mazgaon (माझगाव)
Bhulehwar is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mumbai and home to many temples including Mumbai’s patron deity. It is a market area for vegetables, fruits and hardware.
Mazgaon was one of the original seven islands of Bombay and a fishing village inhabited by the Koli community. The area has shipbuilding companies operating in the area. Some of the popular markets in this area are Crawford market, Zaveri bazar, and Chor bazar.
Goddess Mumbadevi is worshipped as Mumbai’s deity in this temple built in the 18th century, inside the Bombay fort. The original site of the temple made way for construction projects. Now it is located in the famous Zaveri bazar area and it is a popular tourist destination.
The deity is dressed in a robe with a silver crown, a nose stud and a gold necklace. She is flanked to the left by Goddess Annapurna and a tiger statue sits in front of the sanctum which is a vehicle of the Goddess.
Other temples around the area are Ganesh temple, Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman.
A 150 year old temple, it has Laxmi Narayan and Ganshyam Maharaj as the main deities. Other deities are Hari Krishna Maharaj, Gaulok Vihariji and Radhika. There are paintings of scenes from the Krishna lila in the halls. Religious chants for Krishna are recited by devotees at the hall in the first floor.
Chinatown is a small community of Chinese families hidden behind the huge walls of the Mazgaon docks. Ever since the 1962 Sino-Indian war, its population is dwindling.
Its spiritual center is the temple dedicated to Kwan Tai Koon, a deity known for courage and ferocity. The temple sees most activity during the Chinese New Year and the Moon festival.
8 AM to 5 PM; Dockyard road
It is another of the offbeat places in Mumbai where a Portuguese speaking Roman Catholic group live. There are Portuguese style houses in this area. However, the people native to this village are selling their houses and moving out.
Before the East Indian community, this village was home to the ethnic communities of Mumbai namely Kolis, and Kunbis. Matharpacady means huts at the top of the hill. If there are rains, water flows downhill and never clogs the village.
Byculla (भायखळा) & Mahalakshmi (महालक्ष्मी)
Byculla is a middle class enclave and an extension of Mazgaon. It was once home to Mumbai’s textile mills but they became unsustainable. There are streets with timber and vegetable markets in the area.
Mahalakshmi is an extension that borrows its name from the Mahalakshmi temple.
The erstwhile Sardar Vallabhbhai patel stadium is now converted into an indoor stadium that hosts carrom, badminton, table tennis, wrestling and other indoor sports.
Mahalakshmi race course near the indoor stadium was built in 1883 and is owned by the Govt. of Maharashtra. People can get horse riding lessons here.
It is a memorial to Jawaharlal Nehru and organizes cultural, scientific, and educational activities. Scientists gather here to discuss celestial events and plan extraordinary tasks.
The planetarium can seat 1000 people at once and has infotainment programmes for people of all ages. Elocution, quizzes and contents are held here.
The library has about 25,000 books on social sciences, sciences and the arts. There is an art gallery and an exhibition hall in the Discovery of India building.
One of the oldest zoos in India in existence since 1861, it was named after Jijabai, mother of Shivaji Maharaj. People often complain about its poor maintenance, but the Humbolt penguin enclave is the new attraction.
The giant stone statue of an elephant towards the East wing of the zoo is from the Elephanta caves.
Central Mumbai (मध्य मुंबई)
Central Mumbai was once home to small to medium scale industries and was also where middle class and upper middle class people lived.
The small scale industries however declined and there are offices of companies and construction projects are always underway. Besides this there are many offbeat things to do here.
Sewri is a neighborhood in the Eastern side of Mumbai city which was once on the Parel island, one of the original islands of Bombay. Sewri mangrove park is an ideal location for finding pink neck flamingos that migrates and perches itself on the mudflats during winter and eats the algae there.
Worli (वरळी) & Parel (परळ)
One of the seven original islands it is today one of the busiest areas of Mumbai. There are regional and head offices of many conglomerates.
Parel was one of the original islands of Mumbai. It was joined with the other six islands in the 19th century and is one of the poshest neighborhoods.
Nippozan myohoji temple was built by a Japanese Buddhist order and is maintained by the Birla family. It is near the Worli naka toll plaza. Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of Nippozan Mhohoji stayed here for some time.
An offbeat place in Mumbai, Worli fort was built by the British in the late 17th century. It has a nice view of the Bandra – Worli sea link and the sea, which was the reason it was built, that is to look out for enemy ships. There are many temples around the fort. See this link for the list.
Bandra – Worli sea link is a cable-stayed bridge and an engineering marvel connecting North Mumbai with South Mumbai. Mumbai darshan buses ride on this bridge during the tour.
Phabhadevi (प्रभादेवी), Dadar (दादर), Wadala (वडाळा)
Prabhadevi is a middle class residential neighborhood of Mumbai. Next to Prabhadevi is Dadar, predominantly a Marathi speaking Maharashtrian neighborhood and is a cultural center of Mumbai.
The vegetable market of Dadar is a hub for all vegetable shops in Mumbai and it distributes vegetables to rest of Mumbai. Dadar has been in development since the 16th century.
One of the largest parks in Mumbai, Shivaji park is in Dadar and it hosts cricket and football matches. Indian cricket greats namely Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Sunil Gavaskar perfected their craft here.
Wadala and Matunga are among the popular business districts with restaurants, temples all over, and there is a good population of South Indians who migrated and stayed here since. Wadala played an important role in the Civil disobedience movement during the freedom struggle.
Granter of wishes is the meaning of the word Siddhi. Celebrities from every industry visit the Siddhivinayak temple for luck before the start of a new project. The wooden doors to the sanctum has images of different forms of Lord Ganesha called the Ashtavinayak. The inner roof of the sanctum is gold plated. People from neighboring states too visit here before going anywhere else.
Chaitya bhoomi is a memorial to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian constitution. He was cremated here on 6th of December, 1956 and his followers come to pay homage on 6th December every year which is called the Mahaparinirvan din.
The dome shaped structure has a mezzanine floor which is a resting place for Buddhist monks. There is a bust of Dr. Ambedkar and of the Buddha. The structure contains the relics of Dr. Ambedkar.
The Mayor of Mumbai lives in the mayoral bungalow to the North of Chaitya bhoomi and was built in 1928. It served as the official residence of the mayor since 1962.
Mahim (माहीम), Dharavi (धारावी), & Sion (शीव)
Mahim is at the border of Mumbai city and one of the erstwhile seven islands of Bombay. It is to the Northern part of the Mahim bay while Dadar is at the South.
During the 17th, 18th, and 19th century, the British used the Mahim fort and Worli fort to lookout for Portuguese and Maratha ships in the Mahim Bay.
The Mahim Creek that is on the border of the city and the suburb is where River Mithi drains into and this area has mangrove swamps.
Dharavi was founded in 1883 to house the poor that migrated to Mumbai. It was a Koliwada (village of the Koli fishermen folk).
Sion is in the border of the Mumbai city and the suburbs. It was named marking an end to the city but it is well within the city today. Sheev in Marathi means limit.
One of the oldest Catholic churches in Mumbai, it was built by the Portuguese in 1534. The present structure was built in 1973. People believe that the deity will grant whatever they wish for if they pray in this church.
Not far from the church, there is a statue dedicated to the original inhabitants of the islands of Bombay. Koli manese statue is a statue of two Koli fishermen carrying a boat on their shoulders probably into the sea or to land.
Mahim fort was built by the British to protect the seven islands of Bombay from the Portuguese and Maratha navy attacks. It overlooks the Mahaim Bay and at one time it was attacked by the Portuguese in a 1772 battle but was repelled by British fire. Today it is in a state of neglect and the forces of nature is eating it including exposure to tidal waves.
Dharavi village grew after poor migrants from neighboring states settled here. It became known for its shanty towns and chawls.
Accommodation in this are is small and over the years. Sanitation became a problem and outbreaks of diseases became commonplace. People of all faiths, ethnicities, and region live here which makes Dharavi one of the most diverse neighborhood in Mumbai.
Tour companies organize tours to the Dharavi slum. A surprising fact is that it became a hub for small scale entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs here are trying to solve water and sanitation problems. There are cottage industries too.
The Sion fort was built by the British in the 17th century and it helped the British lookout for activity on the Portuguese held Bombay. The pathway from the Jawaharlal Nehru park leads to the fort ruins.
8 AM to 12 PM & 4 PM to 7 PM; Kurla
Employees of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport runs the BEST museum. The items on display are the collection of the employees despite not training as experts in museum affairs. Photographs of tickets and models of buses are on display.
Guide to the Suburbs of Mumbai
While Mumbai city is the smallest district of Maharashtra by area, Mumbai suburban district is the second smallest and is more than five times bigger than Mumbai city. Andheri, Borivali, and Kurla are the three taluks in this district.
Kurla taluk lies on the Eastern suburb, North of the Mithi river. The neighborhoods of this taluk are Chembur, Mankhurd, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Kurla and Mulund. Thane district is in the North and East of Kurla taluk.
Chembur and Kurla neighborhoods are close to each other. While Chembur means large crab, Kurla derives its name from Kurli meaning crab. There were crabs of all sizes in plenty in the marshes here.
Chembur is home to many large industries and is affected by pollution due to the presence of chemical industry and the Deonar dumping ground. Kurla is divided by the train station into Kurla East and Kurla West.
Other neighborhoods near Kurla and Chembur are Ghatkopar and Vikhroli. Vikhroli is to the North of Chembur and is home to the factory owned by the Godrej group.
Powai is an upmarket residential hub to the west of Vikhroli. It is home to IIT Madras and the Powai lake. Mulund which is the Northernmost neighborhood of Kurla taluk was developed since the time of the Mughals. It saw the most development in recent times and is a cosmopolitan neighborhood.
Powai lake was built to solve water problems of the city. It got polluted over the years but there are organizations that are involved in cleaning the lake by removing unwanted weeds and creating awareness among the locals.
The lake is also home or a pit stop for migratory birds. Many species of butterflies and beetles are also present.
One of the premier technological institutions of the country, it lies to the East and North of the Powai lake and to the South of the Sanjay Gandhi national park. There are stories of leopards jumping into the campus, scaring people or itself until authorities arrive.
IIT Bombay is an institution of national importance. The institute supports student entrepreneurs too. The 1000 year old Padmavati Devi temple is inside the campus.
Dev Jyoti pyramid centre is a meditation center in Mulund that has a nice garden to augment the positive effects of meditating inside the pyramid structure.
Andheri taluk is in the western part of the Salsette island, North of the Mithi river, and to the South of the Sanjay Gandhi national park. It was inhabited by the fishing communities and it converted into towns with modern amenities and business districts over the millenia.
Bandra lies to the North of the Mahim Bay and it is a lavish locality where celebrities live. The Portuguese took Bandra by force, the British took it after signing a treaty with the Peshwa king. Marathas conquered it and then lost it to the British.
Castella de Aguada is a Portuguese fort built in 1640 to keep an eye on the British navy. It was dismantled by the British after the Portuguese decline so that they can keep the Marathas from occupying it.
There have been attempts at preservation of the fort recently. Some of the bastions of the fort are still intact and it gives a good view of the sea and the Bandra – Worli bridge. Read about all the forts in Mumbai.
6 AM to 6 PM; Bandra
This 2 kilometer long promenade is a popular hangout spot and a track for people to use it for their morning walk. Another place people use for jogging and walking is the Joggers park.
5:30 AM to 9 AM & 3:30 PM to 9 PM; Bandra
Mount Mary is peaceful and has an atmosphere of love. It is located on a hillock and overlooks the Arabian sea. The idol of Our Lady is from 16th century Portugal and they say it possesses the power to heal and grant wishes.
The church attracts a lot of people during the Bandra fair. It is said that a Koli fisherman rescued the floating idol of the deity from the Arabian sea after he saw it in the sea in his dream. The church attracts people of all faiths and ethnicities today.
6 AM to 8:30 PM; Bandra
Pali Hill (पाली हिल), Versova (वर्सोवा), & Juhu (जुहू)
Pali Hill, Versova and Juhu are upmarket neighborhoods. Versova was a Koli village and the meaning of the Marathi word vesave means rest. Versova changed hands between the Portuguese, the Marathas, and the British.
Juhu is the home of a significant number of celebrities and businessmen. Often times you may see a crowd in front of a home of a celebrity wishing to catch a glimpse of their favorite star. In the ancient times, fisher folk, toddy trappers, salt traders and farmers co-existed.
Olive bar and restaurant, Corniche, Social, Bhaijaanz, Versova fish festival, Jamjar diner, Broaster chicken, Tea villa cafe, Malwani Khalwan, Indigo Deli, High point veg, Mainland China, Sernyaa tibetan, Global Junction, Bombay barbeque, Harish lunch home
Sri Prabhupada’s followers brought his vision to fruition by starting Iskcon in 1978. The complex has a temple, an auditorium, a restaurant, and accommodation facilities. People from all over the world like staying here. Some of the festivals celebrated here are Janmashtami, Rama navami, Kartika masa, among others.
Juhu & Versova beach
Juhu beach is a popular tourist and shooting destination. There are food stalls selling fast food, ice creams, and juices. People come for planespotting as it lies directly on the flightpath arriving and departing from Mumbai.
Juhu beach is a long beach that stretches up to Versova beach. Koli fishermen and methi farmers use the beach to fish and to grow fenugreek respectively. Volunteers caution people about flooding situation during high tide.
Set up in 1978 by Shashi Kapoor in memory of Prithviraj Kapoor, it hides behind trees and cafes. It has daily shows and the management do not entertain late comers. Before a theater was set up, Prithvi theater was a traveling theater company founded in 1942.
Young people come here to perform, watch performances, or hangout at the cafe. There is a bookshop inside the compound and an art gallery opposite to the theater.
Andheri (अंधेरी), Vile Parle (विलेपार्ले) & Jogeshwari (जोगेश्वरी)
Vile Parle and Santacruz is a upper middle-class neighborhoods. Andheri too is a upper-middle class neighborhood and it is a hub for food, culture, and the arts. Vile Parle was the site of Parle Group’s first biscuit factory.
Chhatrapati Shivaji international airport
The airport is near the Sahar village and people knew it as Sahar airport before. The three terminals of the airport lies in the suburbs of Andheri, Santacruz, and Vile Parle. It is named after a Maharashtrian warrior king called Shivaji.
Mahakali or Kondivite caves are a group of 19 rock-cut caves that was built during the 1st century BC to 6th century AD. It might have been built by Buddhist monks and they lie on top of a hillock.
There are images of the Buddha and figures from Buddhism. They dug these 19 caves at different points in time. The rooms in the caves served as rest houses for monks.
This cave system was built by Hindu and Buddhist monks in the 1st century and has intricate carvings. Local legends tell of Pandavas resting in these caves.
Statues present are of Lord Buddha, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman, among others. Time has worn down the artwork in the caves.
Bolivali taluk is to the North of Andheri and South of the Sanjay Gandhi national park. To the North of Bolivali is the district of Thane.
Goregaon (गोरेगाव) & Malad (मलाड)
Goregaon and Malad are middle class neighborhoods near the Sanjay Gandhi national park. Leopard attacks in the area are on the news at times.
The area has gated communities, shopping malls, commercial complexes, etc. They were once inhabited by the local fishing communities. Filmistan, and Film city are two popular film studios in this area.
Sanjay Gandhi national park is a protected area within the city of Mumbai. The park is home to leopards and some of them wander off from the forest sometimes.
Trekkers and rock climbers frequent the parks. There are tour groups that conduct guided tours. However, the authorities have kept many trails off limits to adventurers. Following those trails will invite hefty fines.
There are many small parks inside the park. The boat ride and Vanrani, a toy train are favorites among children.
Karvi flower bloom is a mass flowering event that occurs once in eight years. It is lavender in color and it is known to turn the forest floor lavender.
Karvi flowers are found only in the Western Ghats of India and the flowers in the national park and elsewhere in the Western Ghats bloom within a span of a week or months of each other.
172 species of butterfly live here and there are many recognizable animals and birds here which is why nature lovers frequent here.
There are two lakes namely, Vihar lake, and a smaller Tulsi lake.
7:30 AM to 6:30 PM; 50 for adults and 12 for children; Borivali
Kanheri caves is a system of 110 basaltic rock caves on ancient Krishnagiri or black mountain that was built between 1 BC to 11 AD. It takes that long when you have individuals working for generations who patiently build caves, statues, and leave the blueprint to the next cave builder.
It was excavated out of a single hill which makes ancient people cool. These caves are monasteries or viharas which were used by monks to meditate and study literature.
The port at Nalsopara serviced these caves when traders from as far as Egypt landed here.
Chaitya Griha is a dining hall + meditation hall inside which are the low tables for monks to sit for the breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There is a 22 feet tall statue of the Buddha and it was a tradition to carve tall figures of the Buddha. Sri Lanka and other Asian countries following Buddhism have Such tall Buddha figures. It could also be that the Kanheri system influenced the Elephanta cave system.
Some stupas replace actual statues to represent the Buddha. There are viharas all over for resting and studying at peace. At one point in time, these cave system could have been a center of learning. This is Anuradha Goyal’s account of her visit.
8 AM to 5 PM; 15 for Indians, 200 for foreigners; Transport: Bicycle: Two wheeler: 41, car: 161; Bus: 262; park shuttle: 48 for adults, 25 for children
Manori (मानोरी) & Gorai (गोराइ)
Most of the Borivali taluk have Koli, Kunbis, Bhandaris and East Indians. Manori is accessible by ferry across the Manori creek.
Global vipassana pagoda is a monument of peace and it is the world’s largest dome without any supporting pillar. Tourists can learn meditation in the free ten-day meditation class.
There are paintings and artwork depicting the life of the Buddha and you can rent audiobooks and listen to it while touring the place.
EsselWorld is a water theme park in operation since 1989. It has attractions like top spin ride, ice skating rink, disco and a huge swimming pool. People eat and vomit sometimes. It happens. The park claims to be the largest in Asia which is a reason to visit the place.
When the Portuguese landed in Bombay, they converted the native Indian people so that they follow their way of life. The generation of people came to be known as East Indians.
This is a small museum that shows their way of life through artifacts and photographs.
Outlying Areas of Mumbai
Along with Mumbai city and the Mumbai suburban district, neighboring districts of Palghar and Thane too are part of Mumbai. The suburban railway and bus services connects the whole of the metropolitan region and people use them to travel to offices and homes within the metropolitan region.
North Mumbai (उत्तर मुंबई) (Palghar district)
The city of Vasai – Virar, in Palghar district is part of the metropolitan region of Mumbai. It was a town of the Portuguese empire called Baçaim and was as important as Goa.
It was known as Bajipur by the Marathas. Small towns like Nalasopara has ancient roots. Buddhist stupas were found there by the archeological survey of India.
Tungareshwar national park is a protected forest to the North of the Sanjay Gandhi national park that the trekkers and hikers frequent during the monsoon. There is unique flora and fauna that people come to see or study.
The common Indian toad’s croaks are one of the loudest. Chinchoti waterfall and Tungareshwar temple are two attractions here. The forest has the highest peak in the district.
Thane was once the most populated district and still has crazy population. Today it has the busiest train station in the country. There are some nice things to do in here and most are off the beaten path.
Thane is the city of lakes, there are 33 of them. We will not talk about them all though. Talao Pali is a lake to the East of Sanjay Gandhi national park. It has a 200 year old Shiva temple in the center accessible by boat.
Upvan lake is at the foot of the Yeoor hill to the North of Sanjay Gandhi park. The lake hosts the Sanskriti Art Festival.
Yeoor is a small village in the hilly area of Yeoor. Trekkers and hikers often trek there during the monsoons because of streams and small waterfalls in this area making the trek scenic.
What else is here?
There are forts and trekking routes all over this district. Here is a blog post of more things to do in Thane. In addition to getting off the beaten path, people come here for shopping, and eating.
Navi Mumbai (नवी मुंबई)
Navi Mumbai lies on both Thane and Raigad district, which means no one wants to ignore it. It is a planned city and traveling is easier here. Food is good. You will love the chats, sweets, food at Udupi hotels, and the state bhawans.
Palm beach road is 10 KM stretch connecting Vashi to CBD Belapur. On this route you can see the mangroves of Vashi creek, nice restaurants, business districts, and vendors selling street food and neera.
Navi Mumbai’s corporation building is at the end of the beach road near Belapur and it sports one of the tallest Indian flag in its premises.
Pandavkada is a waterfall near the hills of Khargar. They say that the Pandavas took a shower under the falls during their 14 year exile. The falls is a sight to see even at a distance and is often a day’s picnic for Navi Mumbaikars and others.
It is a huge park for walking, jogging and to play sports. There is a lot of greenery and you can see the hill ranges in the background. It has an amphitheater, theme park, and a pond. The Utsav Chowk road separates the golf course from Central park.
6 AM to 11 AM & 5 PM to 8 PM; Khargar
There are other gems in Navi Mumbai like temples, gurudwaras, and Mango garden.
Rest of Raigad (रायगड)
Raigad was the former capital of Maratha warrior king Shivaji. Matheran is a hill station in Raigad. It is accessible only on horse backs which is cool. Raigad has lots of forts, temples and nature. Visit the Raigad fort while at Raigad.
Rafting, kayaking and rock climbing are some of the top things to do. Weekendthrill has a list of top adventurous things to do outside Mumbai.
Go to other cities
There are many ancient and modern cities far from Mumbai that was once a cultural and political hotspot. Walkthroughindia has a list of popular ancient monuments to visit. Also check out this post by Culturetrip for quaint little towns near or far from Mumbai
Cheer your sports team
Mumbai is a sporting city and the result of which is the founding of many sports clubs including rowing clubs. Cricket is the most popular sport and many cricketing legends are from Mumbai.
Children play cricket everywhere. In the park, on the beach and on the streets. People do not ignore other sports. The sports teams that belongs to city and the grounds they play are:
Basketball – Mumbai Challengers – UBA pro Basketball League
Directing: Because directing is fun
Culture and festivals
Mumbai has people of many faiths due to various community of migrants and local people who came to live here, and as a result there is a good mix of Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, and Jains. Some of the important festivals are Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, Christmas, Navaratri, and Maha shivaratri.
Movies and music
Mumbai has Bollywood, the Hindi cinema industry. 2013 was the centenary year of Bollywood which proves that Hindi movies became an integral part of Mumbai’s culture and also the rest of India’s.
Music is part of almost every Indian movie. Bollywood has famous music directors that people revere and respect on par with film directors and the movie stars.
Shopping and eating
Cuisines available in Mumbai are Maharashtrian, Gujarati, Punjabi, South Indian, Asian, from all over the world really. Read this blog guide for world cuisine in Mumbai.