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Mumbai - Quick Facts

Area: 603 sq. km.
Population: 12,442,373
Altitude: Sea-level
Season: Throughout the year
Clothing: Summer- Cottons, Winter- Light Woollens
Rainfall: 212 cms
Languages: Marathi, Hindi, Urdu & English

Welcome to the city that never sleeps! Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, and Fun -- this is Mumbai or as it is still frequently referred to -- Bombay. The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernisation. Once a cluster of seven islands Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal.

Over the years, as colonialism gave way to independence, Mumbai has transformed itself into an entity with thriving markets, business houses and many different communities reflecting a cosmopolitan and trendy atmosphere rarely seen elsewhere. On the surface, it represents the ever-changing face of today's India -- the old coupled with the dynamic new, and yet at its very core, the heart of the city is steeped in Indian customs and values.

It is the capital of Maharashtra state, and its official language is Marathi although English and Hindi are widely spoken and understood. The fast-paced life has given rise to hordes of "fast-food outlets" on almost every road, offering lip-smacking choices of Mumbai's very own pau bhaji, bhel puri and kababs. There is no dearth, though, of multi-culinary delicacies dished out in posh restaurants by expert chefs. Mumbai is a shopper's delight with bargain buys, exclusive boutiques, ethnic markets and mini bazaars. This busy city is also the hub of a thriving cultural life, with a constant stream of performances in music, dance and drama. The seat of the Hindi film industry, known locally as Bollywood, it produces the largest number of films in the world. Mumbai caters to the adventurous and the romantic through its sporting activities, nightclubs, pubs, theatres, beaches and restaurants. Old and new, rich and poor, classical and modern -- its all here for you to savour and enjoy!

By Air
Mumbai s an international airport. Many international airlines operate flights to Mumbai from various parts of the world. Indian Airlines and many private airlines connect Mumbai with all major tourist centres in India.

By Rail
 Mumbai the headquarters of the Central and Western Railways. Regular trains connect it with all major cities like Ahamedabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Calcutta, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madras, Nagapur and Trivandrum.

By Road
 Mumbai is connected by good motorable roads with all major tourist centres

•        Panvel - 5 km.
•        Nasik - 184 km.
•        Mahabaleshwar - 239 km.
•        Mhad - 179 km.
•        Shirdi - 307 km.
•        Nasik - 184 km.
•        Aurangabad - 392 km.
•        Pune - 163 km.
•        Ahmednagar - 120 km.
•        Vadodra - 432 km.
•        Bharuch - 357 km.
•        Ahmedabad - 545 km.
•        Vadodara - 432 km.
•        Panaji (Goa) - 597 km.
•        Hyderabad - 711 km.
•        Bangalore - 998 km.

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market (Crawford Market)
A busy market area, this is best visited early on in the day. The fruits and vegetable section offers the best of produce. Depending on when you visit, the fruit/s of the season are always a good buy.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus)
This is a magnificent building, and considered to be architecturally one of the finest stations in the world. Built by the British in 1888, it has exquisite ornamentation on its facade along with beautifully executed panels and friezes. It holds the statue of Queen Victoria on its dome.

Flora Fountain and the Gothic/Victorian buildings of the Fort Area
The Flora Fountain stands on the site of the old church gate of the Bombay Fort, now a major crossroad named Hutatma Chowk. It was erected to honour Sir Bartle Frere, a former governor of Bombay and named after the Greek goddess Flora. Other buildings to see in the Fountain or Fort area are the University of Mumbai buildings including the imposing Rajabhai Tower, the Mumbai High Court, the Old Secretariat, and the Institute of Science on one end. Close by are situated St Thomas Cathedral, the Asiatic Society of Bombay or Town Hall, the Office of the Director General of Police, the General Post Office and the Thomas Cook building. The Western Railway Headquarters is also quite near, across the street from the Churchgate Station. These buildings are fine examples of the Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style. Many are illuminated by night. An exotic way of seeing these sights would be by the MTDC open-air bus or by the few surviving Victorias or buggy rides. Close by to Flora Fountain is the Kala Ghoda area which holds a once a week fair (every Sunday) from November to January.

Jehangir Art Gallery
Close by to the Prince of Wales Museum, this gallery is the showcase for contemporary art. The displays change regularly. Outside is the Artist's Plaza with more paintings on display and sale. Open daily from 11 am to 7 pm.

Prince of Wales Museum
This is one of Mumbai's finest examples of Victorian architecture. Built to commemorate King George V's visit to Mumbai (while still Prince of Wales), it was designed by George Wittet and completed in 1923. It is undoubtedly one of India's finest museums and houses treasures, artefacts, paintings and sculpture from the many periods covering India's history, including the Indus Valley Civilization. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30 am to 6 pm.

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)
This is the former Cowasji Jehangir Hall, of the Institute of Science. It has been renovated to serve as a four-storey exhibition hall, displaying the best of Indian contemporary art. Open daily except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Gateway of India
Mumbai's most striking monument, this too was designed by George Wittet. It has an imposing gateway arch in the Indo-Saracenic style with Gujarati and Islamic elements such as wooden carvings. It was built to commemorate the visit Of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. This area is also the departing point for ferries plying to Elephanta Island and other beaches across the port. Behind it is the beautiful old (and new) structure of the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach
This is the stretch now known as Netaji Subhashchandra Bose Road with Nariman Point on one end to Babulnath, at the foot of Walkeshwar on the other. For the most part, a pleasant promenade continues along the beach with the Chowpatty area situated somewhat in the middle. Chowpatty Beach is a teeming mass of people, vendors, masseurs and roadside restaurants with its specialties being Bhelpuri and kulfi. Across the Chowpatty Beach area is the Taraporewala Aquarium. Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen's Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night.

Malabar Hill
This is essentially an up-market residential area with some spectacular views of the city surroundings. On the road climbing up, is a Jain temple dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. At one end, on the top are the Hanging Gardens (Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) and the Kamala Nehru Park. Both provide relaxing atmospheres of greenery. Beside the Hanging Gardens are the Parsi Towers of Silence. But these are off-limits to all except those who have come to dispose and pay respect to the dead. Towards the other end is the Banganga temple complex at Walkeshwar, considered to be one of Mumbai's holiest sites. Local legend has it that the Hindu god Rama rested here on his way to rescue Sita (his wife) from Lanka. The Banganga Tank is supposedly the spot where Rama shot his bow or bana. Further away is the British built Raj Bhavan, the residence of the governor of Maharashtra. The Banganga Festival of Music is a yearly highlight, and is in the month of January usually.

Mani Bhavan
This simple and charming museum was where Mahatma Gandhi lived on his visits to Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. Gandhi's room and belongings including his books are on display. Mani Bhavan is situated on Laburnam Road, near the August Kranti Maidan, where the 'Quit India' movement was launched in 1942. Open daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm.

Mahalaxmi Temple
The Mahalaxmi Temple is a popular holy site as Mahalaxmi is the goddess of wealth. It is situated at one end of Breach Candy -- a trendy residential and shopping area, now known as B. Desai Road.

Haji Ali Shrine
Further along the seashore, at the end of a long pathway surrounded by seawater is the shrine dedicated to Haji Ali, a Muslim saint. Access is only at low tide via the pathway.

Siddhivinayak Temple
Located in the Prabha Devi area of Mumbai, this popular temple dedicated to Ganesh was rebuilt on the site of a 200-year old temple. Built of black stone, the idol of Ganesh is two and a half feet in height and two feet in width. An unusual feature of the statue is that the trunk turns to the left, not often found on Ganesh idols. Tuesday is the main day of darshan and puja, but this temple is frequented by hundreds of devotee’s everyday.

Juhu Beach
This suburban beach is great favourite with Mumbaites, and has plenty to offer everyone. Like Marine Drive's Chowpatty, Juhu 'Chowpatty' is a vendor's delight with innumerable food counters. It is a wonderful place to bring kids, as it doubles up as an amusement park, play ground, and open-air restaurant. An unusual sight at this beach is the camel ride, which is both fun and popular.

RBI Museums
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the central bank of the country. As the central bank, it is also the custodian of the country's monetary Heritage To document and preserve India's monetary history for the posterity and as a part of the Reserve Bank's education and outreach programme for the common man, especially the students; the Reserve Bank has conceived the Monetary Museum.

Elephanta Caves
Across the Mumbai Harbour, lie the seventh-century rock-cut temples of Elephanta. Once known as Gharapuri, or the Fortress City, the Caves are now designated as a World Heritage Site and visited by hundreds of tourists both for their art historical and scenic value. The Portuguese renamed this island Elephanta after a large stone elephant found near the shore ( the elephant sculpture collapsed in 1814, when the British relocated it to the Victoria Gardens now Mumbai's zoo, where it still stands).

Getting there
Approach to the Island is by boat Luxury and ordinary launches as well as catamarans leave for Elephanta from Apollo Bunder at the Gateway of India Boats usually leave every half-hour from 9 am to 2 pm from Apollo Bunder and between 1 pm and 5 pm from Elephanta Island Tickets are sold at booths near the Gateway of India and the MTDC offers daily tours to the Island. During the monsoons the ordinary boat services are usually suspended.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Kanheri Caves
104 sq. kms of green hills and forests, this protected area lies near the northern suburb of Borivali. In fact the park was formerly known as the Borivali National Park. There is a Lion Safari Park 500 m inside the entrance and safari rides run daily except Monday from 9 am to 5 pm. The park is also well known for the 109 Kanheri Caves ( in particular Cave 3), built between the 2nd and 9th centuries as viharas (monasteries) and chaityas (prayer halls).

Getting there
Visitors can take the train on the Western line (from Churchgate) to Borivali station and then an auto-rickshaw to the Caves. On Sundays and public holidays, a bus service runs from Borivali station to the Caves. The MTDC suburban tour also includes Kanheri in its itinerary.

Marve, Manori and Gorai
North of Mumbai and away from its bustling crowds and pollution, are these 3 beaches that have become popular havens for Mumbai's beleaguered fun lovers. Marve, the closest and the quietest is a lovely little fishing village. There are some beautiful bungalows and up-scale homes belonging to the city's wealthy used mainly as weekend getaways. Low hills along the beach offer you extraordinary views of sunrise and sunset. Gorai and Manori, a little further away, are more crowded with revellers and are famous for all night beach parties.

Getting there
Marve is about 40 kms by car from Mumbai You can alight at Malad railway station (a suburban station on the Western Railway line) and proceed by road. A 15 minute ferry ride from Marve or Borivali will take you to Manori or Gorai.

Mandwa and Kihim
You will find these two beach fronts 12 miles north of Alibag on the north coast and easily accessible from Mumbai. Mandwa is a beautiful, untrodden beach. On a clear day one can enjoy a long, breathtaking view across the bay, up to the Gateway of India. Mandwa village too, has a charm of its own -- with its beautiful groves of coconut palms. Plan an unusual tent holiday nearby at Kihim.

Getting there
It is accessible by boats and road. There is regular ferry service between the Gateway of India and Mandwa Jetty. For Kihim, one can take an auto-rickshaw or bus further onwards. By road, Kihim is 136 kms from Mumbai.

Fort, now in ruins, was under the Portuguese a thriving fortified city from 1534 to 1739 when it was sacked by the Marathas. The ruins of the Portuguese Fort still stand almost hidden by brushwood and palm groves. Some of the walls and churches can still be seen. About 10 kms to the north-west lies Nalasopara village, the capital of the Konkan region from 1500 BC to AD 1300. Many Buddhist relics were discovered here. Nalasopara is believed to have been the birthplace of the Buddha in a previous life. To the north, is the Agar of Agashi and to the south is the Agar of Bassein. An hour by bus.  From Bassein station is the Vajreshwari Temple and Akoli Hot Springs. Also easily accessible is Ganeshpuri with the Sadguru Nityanand Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, the Bhimeshwar Temple and other ashrams.

Getting there
Bassein Fort can be reached by train up to Bassein or Vasai Road station on the Western Railway and then by auto-rickshaw or taxi. By road, it is 77 kms along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway.

Khandala, Lonavala and Karla
Khandala and Lonavala are two charming hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5 kms apart straddling the Mumbai-Pune highway at an altitude of 625 m. Very popular with Mumbaites; they also alternate as getaways and health resorts. Khandala is the smaller and calmer of the two, though browsing through Lonavala's bazaar could yield some wonderful surprises.

Temperatures vary from 12 C in winter to around 36 C in the peak of summer. The annual rainfall, when the climate is very pleasant, is 450 cms. October to May is the best time to visit.

Getting there
Pune 66 kms away, is the nearest airport. All trains from Mumbai to Pune and the South stop at Lonavala. Mumbai is 104 kms away by road, the last 20 kms of which wind up the ghats through grueling switchbacks. Taxis and auto-rickshaws easily available in Lonavala and Khandala are the best way of getting to and from Karla.

Matheran is an undulating hilltop cloaked in shady trees that sprawls languidly at an altitude of 800 m. The journey involves an adventurous two-hour ascent in a toy train, with food and drink vendors and monkeys jumping on and off as the valley glides by sedately. Alternately, a tough 11 km hike through thick and shady forests or a winding car drive can get you there as well.

Temperatures vary from 16 C in winter to 32 C in summer, with an annual rainfall of 524 cms. October to May is the best time to visit.

Getting there
Mumbai, 100 kms away is the nearest airport. Neral station, 21 kms away is where you can catch the toy train. Mumbai by road is about 108 kms from Matheran via Karjat and Neral. Pune is 120 kms away. All cars and buses stop at Dasturi just outside, from which you can walk, take a horse or a hand-pulled rickshaw into the town. State Transport buses ply regularly from Mumbai and Pune.

Mumbai celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti and Guddi Padwa the Maharashtran New Year is celebrated in great pomp and show, very often you will see Gudi?s being put up in traditional Maharashtrian families. Women dress in black, on this day and offer til-gul (made with sesame seeds and jaggery) on this day. The typical sweet Poranpoli is available all around. Besides that all the other festivals here are also celebrated as Mumbai is mixture of cultures and races thus everything is celebrated here in unity.

Ganesh Festival
Is one of the largest festivals to be celebrated in Mumbai with every nukkad (corner) putting upo their own pandals, competition are held for the best pandal designs too. The best one of course continues to be the lalbagh ka raja as it is fondly called.

Navratri Festival
Yet another time for Mumbaiites to build pandals and blast some music, the city is full of people in traditional Gujarathi outfits, who set out every night to dance before the goddess. Strict time rules have curbed the tempo a bit.

Holi is yet another festival that gets Mumbai all geared up, most revelers paint their faces in some ghastly combinations, of silver with brown and black, for those of you who do not like colours, it?s a good time to stay indoors.

The youth train for this festival good few months in advance, this is when huge pots, with lots of monies, are tied at tall heights of up to 60 feet. The idea is to break these pots, by creating a human pyramid. Of late women have also started enjoying this sport. And prices can vary upto a few lakhs.

Mumbai's streets, corners and pavements are lined with shops and virtually anything you want is available in parts of its famous bazaars and markets. The main areas for bargain clothes are around Colaba Causeway and Fashion Street, which stretches along the Cross and Azad Maidans. More trendy and costly shopping is found at Breach Candy and Kemps Corner, down the hill from the Hanging GardensChor Bazaar is an antique-hunter's delight, while nearby Zaveri Bazaar is famous for its diamond, gold and silver jewellery. The shopping arcades of almost all five-star hotels such as the Oberoi and the Taj Mahal offer a good variety of up-market shops. In central and suburban Mumbai, the Dadar, Bandra-Linking Road, and Juhu Road areas are good spots to shop.

Chor Bazaar
Chor Bazaar is commonly known as thieves' market, a name coined by the British but perhaps mistakenly. It is also thought that the original name was shor Bazaar (Noisy Market) which aptly described the yelling and shouting of the local traders on Mutton Street while selling therir second hand house hold goods.Today, it is a hustling bustling market selling an electic range of new and old furniture and bric-a-brac.The traders, whose families have been in this business for generations, scour the countryside buying goods to sell in the market. You must visit Chor Bazaar. Here are some of our favourite shops but rummage as many as you can as you never know what you may find - a treasure, a bargain or just what you need. Take a taxi or bus to Maulana Shaukat Ali Road and set off down Mutton Street.

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