Mumbai Tours
Mumbai Tours

The city of Mumbai was originally made up of seven small islands namely Bombay, Parel, Mazagaon, Mahim, Colaba, Worli and Old Woman's Island (also known as Little Colaba).

Excavations from Kandivali have revealed that these islands were inhabited since the Stone Age.In the Third century BC, Mumbai was a part of Magadha Empire ruled by Ashoka. The Kanheri Caves, Elephanta Caves, Jogeshwari Caves and the Mahakali Caves date back to third century BC.

After the fall of Magadha Empire, Buddhist monks continued to reside on these islands. Deep-sea fishermen called the Kolis and salt makers called the Aagris were its chief inhabitants. The Koli goddess Mumbadevi lent her name to the modern metropolis which etymologically means Mumba (the goddess' name) and devi means mother in Marathi language.

The early inhabitants of the seven islands were cavemen, later the Kolis, fisher folk came to inhabit the island followed by the Bhandaris or palm tappers, the Kunbis or agriculturist and the Oheds or menials.

As early as 1000 BC the Aryans settled in the Indus valley and western India and started trade from Salsette, present Kalyan. Bombay was a part of the Moryan Empire under the great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka. During the period of Satavahana Kings, trade with foreign countries increased tremendously. The most important centers of trade were Salsette (Kalyan) and Broach (Bharuch in Gujarat).

The trade was developed with Greeks, Scythians, Parthians etc. The Saavahana Kings could not hold on to Bombay for a long time because the Maurya and Chalukya dynasties came up successively as great powers. The present Elephanta Caves previously named Mangalpuri was their capital. Later, Bombay came under the Silhara Dynasty which extended from 810 to 1260 AD. After this Bombay fell into the hands of Raja Bhimadeva who had his capital at Mahikawati which was around the present day neighbourhood of Mahim and Prabhadevi.

Mumbai Tours

Sightseeing in Mumbai

Planning to go for sightseeing in Mumbai? You will notice that the city's long association with the British is reflected in the old world charm of its buildings made in the Indo-Saracen style. Some of the well-known landmarks are the Gateway of India at Apollo Bunder overlooking the harbour. The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911, in the 16th century architectural style of Gujarat.

The Flora Fountain at the Hutatma Chowk was built in 1869 in honour of Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, and the man responsible for much of Bombay; the stately Rajabai Clock Tower rises from the ornamented building of the Mumbai University; the High Court building next door was built in Neo-Gothic style as an imposing edifice to British Justice; the lavishly iced cake of the Gothic Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), the main railhead on the Central Railway; Mumbai's famous Crawford Market, the Afghan Church in Colaba and the Prince of Wales Museum, its central hall topped by a huge white dome, supposedly inspired by the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur.

The Prince Of Wales Museum was also built to commemorate the visit of King George V. Built in the Indo- Saracenic style, the Museum stands amidst a well-laid ornamental garden. The museum was opened in 1923 and is divided into three sections art, archaeology and natural history. It has an impressive collection of artifacts from Elephanta Island, Jogeshwari Caves, and terracotta figurines from the Indus Valley, ivory carvings, statues and a large collection of miniatures.

The National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai exhibits the works of Indian masters as well as modern Indian art. The Nehru Planetarium is just 8 km away from the city centre and screens exhibitions and film shows on the mysteries of the cosmos and outer space. The Nehru Planetarium is a good place to take children to for an educational cum pleasure trip; close by is the Nehru Science centre which is a science park with permanent exhibits of railway engines, aeroplanes, tramcars and steam engines and other aspects of natural sciences. Mani Bhavan, at 19 Laburnum Road, is a Gandhi Memorial with a pictorial gallery and exhibits recalling the Mahatma's life.

Mumbai sightseeing tour will also take you to Elephanta Island that is an hour away from Mumbai Harbour. Motorboats ferry tourists across to the island from the jetty at the Gateway of India. The boat ride, itself, is interesting as you go past fishing boats, anchored ships, yachts and little islands. The island resembles twin hillocks rising from the sea and the caves are located halfway up the higher of the two. Carved out the solid basalt rock, the caves represent Mount Kailash, the heavenly mountain residence of Lord Shiva and date back to the 3rd or 5th centuries. The temple plan is designed in symmetry with the focal points worked out in a geometric Mandala, representing the cosmic field of energy. Inside the cave temple is a large hall, with nine sculptured panels depicting Lord Shiva in different moods as well as scenes from the life of Shiva. Little is known of the artists and architects who created these magnificent temples and sculptures out of sheer rock with the most primitive of tools.

Mumbai Tours What is known about the island is that it once was the capital of powerful coastal kingdom. When the island passed to the Portuguese, they called it Elephanta after the first artifact they stumbled upon -a monolith elephant. The monolith can now be seen at the Bombay Museum. The Portuguese established fortifications and used the island for military exercises; as a consequence many sculptures were destroyed. The best time to visit Elephanta is between November and March. Summer months are very hot and humid and the monsoon season makes the hour long ride extremely turbulent.

The Chowpatty Beach overlooks a bay, and turns into a magical brightly lit funfair at night with vendors, pony rides, fortune tellers, performing monkeys, fishermen and families out for a stroll. Ship lights twinkle in the distance, and Marine Drive, the city's most famous boulevard, decorates the bay in a dramatic arc of streetlights christened the Queen's Necklace. Marine Drive extends from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill past the famous Chowpatty beach, and is built on land reclaimed from Back Bay along the Arabian Sea.

The sunset and the streetlights appear truly bewitching from the nearby elite residential area of the Malabar Hill. Juhu and Versova beaches are some distance away and are crowded with the city's residents spending a while amongst vendors hawking everything from camel and horse rides to Mumbai's famous -bhelpuri' and -pao bhaji.'

Mumbai is an amalgam of different faiths and people from different religions pray at most of these places of worship. Bombay sightseeing places also include the very well-known mosque of Haji Ali that is located in the causeway protruding into the Arabian Sea. The white mosque holds the tomb of Saint Haji Ali, who died while on a Haj to Mecca. It is said that the casket containing his body found its way back to Mumbai. Drifting on the sea currents, the casket reached this particular spot. The mosque can only be approached during low tide. Parsis worship at Zoroastrian Fire Temples and lay out their dead in the Towers of Silence; Christians celebrate their faith at innumerable churches and cathedrals across the city; important ones being Mount St Mary's, Aloysius Church, Mahim Church and St Thomas' Cathedral, in the heart of the Fort area; Jains pay homage to the tirthankaras at the Jain Temple on Malabar Hill; and Hindus throng to the Shiva Temple, at Bhuleshwar, Shree Siddhivinayak Temple at Worli and Mahalakshmi Temple near Breach Candy.

Amidst the concrete and congestion of Mumbai lie its lungs, its islands of greenery like the Hanging Gardens and the Kamla Nehru Park on Malabar Hill with an excellent view of the city or the Victoria Gardens now the Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan. Popular picnic spots are Powai Lake (27 km), Vihar Lake (31 km) and Versova Beach (29 km).

Mumbai Tours

Shopping in Mumbai

You can do some great shopping in Mumbai. Here you can find everything from all across the country!

The favourite for shoppers of all shapes, sexes and wallet sizes is textiles and ready-made garments, including export surplus apparel, which you can pick up at throwaway prices. Head for 'Fashion Street', a long row of 'illegal' roadside stalls on MG Road. Heera Panna Market is the place for 'foreign goods', clothes with designer labels at reasonable prices, electronics and household stuff, while for trendy boutiques you could check out Kemp's Corner, Napean Sea Road, Warden Road and Linking Road near Bandra. Colaba Causeway in downtown Mumbai is another great area for shopping for shoes, clothes, bags and everything you can think of and much that you can't.

If you fancy some hard bargaining and a lot of atmosphere, the lively Chor ('thieves') Bazaar would be the place for you. This is where you could pick up antiques, jewellery, leather goods (shoes, handbags, wallets, belts), and bric-a-brac and sundry items at throwaway prices.

The experience of local markets is yours to savour at Crawford Market with its amazing lanes of specialized little shops where you will get anything from a pin to an elephant!! The local vegetable markets are also worth taking a walk through so long as you can handle the crowds and the chaos.

Mumbai Tours

Where to Stay in Mumbai

Mumbai offers plenty of places to stay as the accommodation options range from 5-star deluxe, first class to mid-range and budget hotels. To assist you choose your hotel in Mumbai we have listed the accommodation options in the city with their location. We have mainly covered the airport hotels, hotels in South Mumbai and hotels in Mumbai suburbs.

In five star, deluxe category you will find Hotel Oberoi Towers, Hotel Hilton Towers, Taj Mahal Hotel, Intercontinental The Grand, Hotel Intercontinental Marine Drive, Taj President Hotel, The Oberoi Hotel, Grand Hyatt and Taj Wellington Mews in South Mumbai.

If you are looking for deluxe hotels in suburbs then choose to stay in JW Marriott, The Resort, Hotel Marriott Courtyard, Taj Lands End Hotel, The Retreat and Hotel Trident Bandra Kurla.

The deluxe airport hotels (situated near the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) are Grand Maratha Sheraton & Towers, Hotel Leela Palace, Le Meridien Hotel, Hotel Hyatt Regency and The Marriott Apartment.

The first class hotels provide you luxury, comfort and great service in a slightly lesser price than deluxe hotels. The first class hotels in South Mumbai are Ambassador Hotel, Fariyas Hotel, Gordon House Hotel, The Sea Rock Hotel and Marine Park Plaza.

In case you are looking for first class accommodation in suburbs then you can check out Hotel Ramada Mumbai, Holiday Inn Hotel, Hotel Sahara Star, Ramee Guestline Hotel Khar, Sun-n-Sand Hotel, Hotel Sea Princess, Ramee Guestline Hotel Dadar and Hotel Midtown Pritam. The first class airport hotels in Mumbai are The Orchid Hotel, Hotel Peninsula and The Mirador.

There are many mid-range properties all over Mumbai you can check out West End Hotel, Royal Garden Hotel, Juhu Plaza, Airlines International and many more. If you are a budget traveller you can try Godwin Hotel, Garden Hotel and Hotel Sea Green amongst others in the city.

How to Reach Mumbai:

Mumbai's international terminus is the Sahar International Airport, 30 km from the city centre of Nariman Point and 4km from the domestic terminus at Santa Cruz. Most of the international airlines fly into Mumbai and connect it with major national and international destinations. Both terminals have facilities like foreign exchange bureaus, duty free shops, restaurants, left luggage sheds and tourist offices. Travelling into the city is made convenient by the easy availability of prepaid taxis, rented cars, airport-city shuttle bus services and auto rickshaws. Pick up service by hotels you are booked in can also be availed of.

Mumbai is the headquarters for both Western & Central Railways sectors of the behemoth Indian Railways. An enormous network of regular train services connects the city via superfast, express and passenger trains with all major towns and cities in India, including Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The Victoria Terminus and Bombay Central Station, the two main railway stations in Mumbai form the hub of Western Railways, tickets and reservations as well as train schedules and other information can be gotten here.

Good motorable roads connect Mumbai to all major cities, small towns and tourist centres in the state -Pune (163 km), Aurangabad (392 km), Nashik (184 km), Mahabaleshwar (239 km) and to the towns and cities of the neighbouring states of Goa - Panaji (597 km), Gujarat - Ahmedabad (545 km) and Vadodara (432 km) and Andhra Pradesh. Traffic is fairly heavy but disciplined. Interstate roadways buses and private operators run every kind of bus from luxury coaches to ramshackle rattletraps. Car rental companies will usually provide chauffeur driven vehicles; traffic drives on the right hand side and while ideally you should have an international driving license, your local license will do for stays under six months.

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