Mumbai

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I stopped at Mumbai on my way back from Bangalore. I spent the whole day visiting the following tourist spots. I rented a car with a driver at the airport. The car rental company was inside the airport near the luggage claim. It was for 2000 rupees ( around 45 US dollars) for 8 hours which is pretty good deal in my mind. I liked the settings of the city since it was on the Bay of Arabia. I was surprising to see so many high rising building facing the bay. The only thing I did not like is the color of the water of the Bay. The color was really muddy.
Gateway of India: Mumbai's most famous monument, this is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianised, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbour.

 

 

 

Tajmahal Hotel: Rarely does a hotel become a part of a city's legend, but in Mumbai, the Taj Mahal, like its inspiration in Agra, is a local landmark. This elaborate structure with its charming cupolas and oriental décor was actually commissioned by Jamshedji Tata, a leading Indian industrialist. The architect was a Briton by the name of Chambers, who inexplicably designed the hotel with its back the sea, a mistake that has never been rectified. Even today, the grand old lobby faces the road behind. It hardly matters, though, because the Taj is really a work of art. And from the picture windows of its quiet and elegant rooms, you still get a magnificent view of the Gateway against the backdrop of the harbour.

 

 

 

Mani Bhawan: Located on leafy Laburnum Road, a quiet lane named after its shady trees, Mani Bhavan is the old Mumbai residence of Mahatma Gandhi. It's a pretty, two-storied structure that now houses a reference library with over 2000 books, a photo exhibition of the Mahatma's life, and well preserved memorabilia, including an old charkha or spinning wheel that Gandhiji used to use. Today, its only a symbolic exhibit that lies unused, but many old Gandhians still visit the place to pay homage to their hero and demonstrate the noble art of spinning your own yarn!

 

 

 

Victoria Terminus: Modeled on the lines of the St Pancras Station in London, Victoria Terminus is undoubtedly the Raj's piece de resistance, Complete with carved stone friezes, stained glass windows and flying buttresses. It is Gothic architecture at its best, an awesome edifice that most citizens view with deep pride. At the top of the central dome stands the triumphant figure of Progress. The station was christened to commemorate Victoria Jubilee Day in 1887 when India's first steam engine puffed out to neighboring Thane, about 45 kms away. Today it has been rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus after the Maratha warrior. And the old steam engines have been replaced by electric ones. But to the 2.5 million commuters who push past its massive portals everyday, this is still VT, the pulse of a throbbing city.

 

 

 

Nehru Centre:

It was in 1972 that the Nehru Centre was conceived by the late Shri Rajni Patel and others as a living memorial to the maker of modern India, who symbolized the ideals of enlightened curiosity, scientific temper, secular values, a world view and above all, a faith in the people of India. The foundation stone of this magnificient dream was laid by the late Smt. Indira Gandhi on November 2, 1972 on a six-acre plot leased by the Government of Maharashtra.

For more information, visit their web-site at http://www.nehrucentremumbai.com/

 

 

 

Nehru Planetarium:

Right next to Mahalaxmi Race Course, the Nehru Planetarium is a large domed building, popular with the city's amateur astronomers. Inside, various cubicles estimate your weight on each of the nine planets of the Solar System while in the domed interior, daily shows uncover the timeless mysteries of the cosmos. The place is usually packed with school children so make sure you buy your ticket in advance. Adjacent to the planetarium is the Nehru Centre, venue of numerous international trade fairs and local exhibitions. In the basement, the Nehru Auditorium usually boasts classical music and dance recitals, concerts and plays.

For more information, visit their web-site at http://www.nehrucentremumbai.com/planetarium.htm

 

 

 

Dhobi Ghat: A unique feature of Mumbai, the dhobi is a traditional laundryman, who will collect your dirty linen, wash it, and return it neatly pressed to your doorstep. All for a pittance. The "laundries" are called "ghats": row upon row of concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. The clothes are soaked in sudsy water, thrashed on the flogging stones, then tossed into huge vats of boiling starch and hung out to dry. Next they are ironed and piled into neat bundles. The most famous of these Dhobi Ghats is at Saat Rasta near Mahalaxmi Station where almost two hundred dhobis and their families work together in what has always been a hereditary occupation.

 

 

 

High Court: On the fringes of what was once the walled Fort of Mumbai, stands the High Court, another hauntingly beautiful (some say haunted!) structure, in brooding black stone. Opposite it lies the Oval Maidan, formerly a large Bowling Green where English memsahibs came to "take in the air." Today, it is an important lung in a congested city, where aspiring young cricketers practice their paces under the watchful eye of the High Court and the Mumbai University.

 

 

 

Marine Drive: If you're feeling energetic, a stroll down Marine Drive is possibly the best way to discover Mumbai. This is a windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art deco buildings. Looped between the concrete jungle of Nariman Point, Mumbai's Manhattan, and the leafy green slopes of Malabar hill, Marine Drive was once called the queen's Necklace, strung with glittering street lights like an enormous strand of imperious jewels. It is also one of Mumbai's busiest roads, an important artery for the heavy suburban traffic heading downtown. Cars whiz continually past the two mile stretch, past huddled lovers, children and babies in perambulators. Like other seafronts, this is where most of south Mumbai comes to breathe in some fresh air.

 

 

 

Juhu Beach: Like Chowpatty, its downtown counterpart, uptown Juhu Beach is also a bourgeois paradise, filled to the gills with screaming children, courting couples and rowdy adolescents. If you want a more fancy excursion, however, retreat behind Juhu's many five star hotels, for a steaming cup of coffee and a splendid view of the coast. The most popular of these beachfront hotels are the Sun and Sand and Holiday Inn. The government run Juhu Centaur also has a 24 hour coffee shop with a view of the sea.

 

 

 

Flora Fountain: This is the very heart of Mumbai, circumscribed by stately colonial buildings that stand like proud old sentinels of a bygone era. Flora is the Roman Goddess of Flowers, her pretty alabaster face continually assaulted by grime and pollution. Next to her are a pair of torch bearing stone patriots that rise from the Martyrs Memorial nearby. Flora Fountain is now called Hutatma Chowk or Martyr's Square to honour those who died in the tumultuous birth of Maharashtra State. All around the square sit Mumbai's infamous vendors selling just about everything under the blazing tropical sun -- from cheap nylon saris and ballpoint pens to herbal remedies and sexshop gewgaws. Tooting horns and traffic complete the chaotic picture, but through it all Flora manages to retain her serene composure.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mumbai on the Net : The above city descriptions were taken from this site.

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This page was last updated on Sunday March 26, 2006