Last week ( I am RIDICULOUSLY behind on my posts but am doing my best to catch up!) we drove from Pune to Mumbai to have a few days in the hectic city and i formed just one opinion of the place….
Mumbai is so incredibly diverse, contradictory and overwhelming that it’s impossible to form a single, solid, general judgment! eg. You say it’s dirty and then walk along the pristine pathways in the uber wealthy South Bombay!
Wikipedia’s delightful summary of Mumbai for some background information – thanks wikipedia!
Formerly called Bombay, is it the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Mumbai is the most populous city in India and the second most populous city in the world with approximately 14 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies.
For centuries, the islands came under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Bombay was reshaped by the British with large-scale civil engineering projects, and emerged as a significant trading town. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century. It became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century. When India became independent in 1947, the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as capital. It was renamed Mumbai in 1995.
Mumbai is also the richest city in India (renowned for it’s commercial and entertainment sectors). Generating 5% of India’s GDP, it accounts for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy. The city also houses India’s Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood (it produces around 150–200 films every year!). Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India and, in turn, make the city a potpourri of many communities and cultures
Mumbai consists of two distinct regions: Mumbai City district and Mumbai Suburban district, which form two separate revenue districts of Maharashtra. The city region is also commonly referred to as the Island City or South Mumbai. The total area of Mumbai is 603.4 km
Mumbai’s GDP is Rs 200,483 crore (US$ 42.7 billion), and its per-capita income is almost three times the national average. Until the 1970s, Mumbai owed its prosperity largely to textile mills and the seaport, but the local economy has since been diversified to include engineering, diamond-polishing, healthcare and information technology
Mumbai’s culture is a blend of traditional festivals, food, music, and theatres. The city offers a cosmopolitan and diverse lifestyle with a variety of food, entertainment and night life, available in a form and abundance comparable to that in other world capitals. Mumbai’s history as a major trading centre has led to a diverse range of cultures, religions and cuisines coexisting in the city. This unique blend of cultures is due to the migration of people from all over India since the British period
The architecture of the city is a blend of Gothic Revival, Indo-Saracenic, Art Deco (Mumbai has the second largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world after Miami), and other contemporary styles.
Most of the buildings during the British period, such as the Victoria Terminus and Bombay University, were built in Gothic Revival style. Their architectural features include a variety of European influences such as German gables, Dutch roofs, Swiss timbering, Romance arches, Tudor casements, and traditional Indian features.
Right by the gateway is the renowned Taj Hotel
She’s famous throughout India for her marriage to billionaire Indian Businessman, Arun Nayar
Both outside and upon entry for the Taj Hotel is extremely heavy security after the terrible bombings in 2008.
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai terrorists from Pakistan. The horrific attacks began on 26 November 2008 and lasted until 29 November, killing at least 173 people and wounding at least 308. The attacks occurred at the busiest places. Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists also struck at railway stations, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport
The occasion is referred to as 26/11 and whilst people continue on with their lives, the event has left a deep scar on the Indian peoples and further hurt the Indian-Pakistani relationship
Marine Drive is also known as “The Queen’s Necklace” for the way it magically lights up at night
We visited the incredible photography exhibition of a friend of my friends and just, wow. Throughout his life, in addition to running a very successful business, their friend has pursued his passion of African wildlife and photography. The result of many, many years of exploration and patience is an incredible collection of photographs which also served as a great inspiration for me to continue refining my own photography.
We visited another friend who creates exquisite jewelry using diamonds and precious gems. She talked to us about the process and then brought out some of her recent pieces, destined to adorn a young bride or Arab heiress.
The next day i set off with my friend to get a taste of the less exquisite but equally intriguing part of Mumbai, the slums. We secured a vantage point on Mahalaxmi Bridge and proceeded to marvel in silent awe at the scene below us, the Dhobi Ghats. Here chaos, color, activity and sounds mix together in a freakish and somewhat harmonious blend. An anti-thesis to the sophisticated and manicured lawns of Mahalaxmi Racecourse only a few hundred yards away, Dhobi Ghat is the fascinating place where Mumbai’s laundry gets done! Clothes are hand washed by hundreds of Dhobis (laundry men and women) on concrete sinks and hung on clotheslines.
We were going to cautiously explore inside but a lurking tout insisting we paid 2000 rupees deterred us and we preferred the view from the top anyways!
Known as the world’s largest outdoor laundry, Dhobi Ghat is where Mumbai’s traditional washerfolk provide a wonderful service, collecting dirty laundry, washing it,
drying it and returning it neatly pressed, all for a very small fee.
We spent the days remainder relaxing and the next morning we departed early in the morning for our next destination – up in India’s hot, hot north!