“The city of dreams”.
Where is Mumbai?
The city of Mumbai lies on the Konkan coast, on the west coast of India. Formerly known as Bombay, the city is located on seven islands and the reclaimed area between them.
The city truly mirrors the diversity that India is known for. Its nature as the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian city is symbolized by the presence of Bollywood. The globally-influential Hindi film and TV industry. It is also home to India’s largest slum population, yet has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in India.
Some of the world’s most expensive homes can be found in the city. The city is home to the largest tropical forest in an urban area. Mumbai is India’s largest city and is it’s most densely populated. Being so large means travelling around to see the wonderful sights it has to offer.
Our journey from Udaipur to Mumbai was by flight.
During our time in Mumbai, we stayed at two very different places. The first was the OYO SilverKey Executive Stays, 45908 Park Palace hotel. This hotel was more expensive than we typically spent on accommodation.
It was listed as “a stylish and trendy property, with classy and stylish rooms. Rooms are a visual treat and are nicely done with dark-toned wall paint, trendy furniture, and tiled flooring. Every room comes with AC and a TV. While each bathroom has a hair-dryer”.
Right, here is our listing for this hotel, based on our experience. A stylish and trendy property. Special features include corridors that are adorned with piles of dirty linen, a mattress, dirty plates, and our favorite, a dirty toilet brush.
Rooms are a visual treat and are nicely decorated with dark-toned wall paint, trendy furniture, and tiled flooring.
Our room came with:-
- A layer of free dust on everything
- Stained bath towels
- A TV, with no remote control
- Hospitality tray with a kettle and one glass
- Bedside tables complete with the previous guests wet glass ring patterns.
The bathroom had a broken toilet seat. The full sized mirror allowed us to see even more water stains where it hadn’t been cleaned. Toilet paper wasn’t even provided.
Customer safety was taken very seriously, with the fire escape staircase strewn with rubbish.
The reception area was welcoming. A floor mat is provided at the entrance so we could wipe our feet on our way out. The area was well lit allowing us to admire the fish in the built-in fish tank whilst waiting to check-in. We also watched a rat, feasting on the food waste in the fire escape on the way to our room.
Staff is trained to the highest standard to ensure that your stay will be a memorable, lasting experience. You have to wait for them to stop watching videos on their phone before you approach the desk with your list of complaints. None of which got addressed.
Emails we sent to the head office, regarding our complaints, also received no reply. In short, we would not recommend this particular hotel. It is, without a doubt, the worst hotel we have ever stayed in.
The Taj Mahah Palace hotel
The second hotel that we stayed in was The Taj Mahal Palace hotel. India’s first and finest luxury hotel. Draped in luxury and legacy, the hotel is an icon that stands like a mirage adjacent to the Arabian Sea, embodying the spirit of Mumbai.
The absolute polar opposite to our first hotel. This legendary 5-star hotel has played host to kings, dignitaries and eminent personalities from across the globe. Also acknowledged as a world leader in hospitality. Needless to say, our stay there was faultless and absolutely amazing, living up to and exceeding everything that it advertises.
Read about our stay in Taj Mahal Palace hotel post
Places of interest
Gateway of India
On the Mumbai Harbour waterfront stands the iconic Gateway of India, erected to commemorate the landing in December 1911 of King George V and Queen Mary, the first British monarch to visit India.
The gateway was used as a symbolic ceremonial entrance to British India for important colonial personnel. It is also a symbol of “conquest and colonisation” commemorating the British colonial rule in India. The last British troops left India through the gateway in 1948, following the independence of India.
Looking back towards Mumbai from the gateway, you can see the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. A heritage, five-star, luxury hotel built in the Saracenic Revival style.
Adjacent to the Gateway of India the ferry runs to the nearby Elephanta Island. There you can find ancient cave temples dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. The ferry trip takes about an hour each way and there is some walking once on the island to get to the caves.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
Throughout Mumbai, there are landmark British colonial buildings including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). Also referred to by its former name Victoria Terminus.
Both the former names Victoria Terminus (VT) as well as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) along with the current name are popularly used. This famous landmark which has become a symbol of the city was built as the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.
During construction, a marble statue of a seated Queen Victoria was installed in a canopy under the clock. During the 1950s, the Indian authorities began to remove statues of the British figures from government buildings and public spaces.
The statue of Queen Victoria, along with other statues, was sent to Victoria Gardens (later renamed Rani Baug). They were left lying on the grass in the open until at least the 1980s. It is believed that the statue was smuggled out, having been sold by politicians.
The symbol of Progress, another statue on the top of the station dome, is commonly mistaken for that of Queen Victoria. The building’s architecture is simply stunning. Being built from a blend of India sandstone and limestone, with high-quality Italian marble used for the impressive decorative elements. The station was the location used for “Jai Ho” the song from the famous film Slumdog Millionaire.
Art Deco buildings
Second only to Miami for its number of Art Deco buildings, the Eros and Regal cinemas are great examples of this style of architecture in the city.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India. Abbreviated CSMVS the museum is the main one in Mumbai. It was built to commemorate the visit of George V, who was the then Prince of Wales. Located close to the Gateway of India. The museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as foreign artifacts.
A 3.6 km Promenade lined with palm trees on the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road in South Mumbai. It is a six-lane concrete road along the coast of the natural bay. At the northern end of Marine Drive is Girgaon Chowpatty and Chowpatty Beach.
Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen’s Necklace because, when viewed at night from an elevated point anywhere along the drive, the street lights look like a pearls necklace.
A huge open air laundry. The people working here are referred to as dhobis. Working in the open cleaning clothes and linen from Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals. The vast amount of laundry hanging out to dry is visually spectacular.
The Hanging Gardens
Also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, are terraced gardens perched on the top of Malabar Hill. They provide the perfect place for sunset views over the Arabian Sea and feature numerous hedges carved into the shapes of animals.
The Bandra–Worli Sea Link
A bridge that links Bandra in the Western Suburbs with Worli in the South. The sea-link bridge reduces travel time between Bandra and Worli during peak hours from 30 minutes to 10 minutes.
Kamala Nehru Park
Part of the Hanging Gardens complex located at the top of Malabar Hill. One of Mumbai’s premier gardens, it has views over Marine Drive below. The shoe structure is inspired by the nursery rhyme. There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
Is an ornamental monument located at the southern end of Dadabhai Naoroji Road, also called the Mile Long Road, in the Fort business district of South Mumbai.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount
Commonly referred to as Mount Mary Church. It is a Roman Catholic Basilica located in the Bandra region of the city. A week-long celebration known as the Bandra Fair is visited by thousands of people. It is the celebration of the birthday of the Virgin Mary.
The public transportation system of Mumbai primarily consists of a rapid transit suburban railway, bus services, taxis, auto-rickshaws, and a metro/monorail system. The city has the largest bus transport network of all the major Indian cities.
Mumbai Suburban Railway
With Mumbai being the most densely populated city in India, the Mumbai Suburban Railway suffers from being the most overcrowded in the world. Over 4,500 passengers pack into a 12 or 15 carriage train during rush hour. The design capacity only being around 2,000 passengers. Carriages have open doors and windows. Relying on natural air ventilation to keep the trains cool. This along with the severe overcrowding, make these trains dangerous to travel on.
Many fatalities occur from passengers falling whilst hanging out of overcrowded trains. As a result, tourists are advised against travelling by train between the hours of 07:00 to 11:00 and 17:00 to 22:00 during weekdays.
The Mumbai Suburban Railway system is made up of 6 lines:-
- Western Line
- Central Line
- Harbour Line
- Trans-Harbour Line
- Vasai-Panvel Line
- Neral-Matheran & Panvel-Karjat Line
The network offers 4 different services:-
- Slow trains (S). These services stop at every station and are intended for daily commuters.
- Fast trains (F). These stop only at selected stations.
- semi-fast trains (SF). These stop only at selected stations.
- Air Conditioned trains (AC) These stop only at selected stations.
Trains generally consist of 12 and 15 carriage units. The two main classes of travel are the first and second classes. First-class has cushioned seating, while the second class is typically plastic.
The travel classes are broken down as follows:-
Class, I (first-class) identified by red and yellow slanted stripes on the carriage. The platform wall where these carriages stop has similar stripes painted on them.
Class II (second class).
Class I-L (Ladies’ first class). Similar to first class but for females only. Boys up to the age of 13 can travel in this class. Identified by red and yellow slanted stripes on the carriage. The platform wall where these carriages stop has similar stripes painted on them. This compartment is often adjacent to the ladies’ general or second class.
Class II-L (Ladies second class): These carriages are reserved for females only. Boys up to the age of 13 can travel in this class. Identified by green and yellow slanted stripes on the carriage. The platform wall where these carriages stop has similar stripes painted on them.
The purchase of tickets can be done in a number of ways. From the ticket counters at the stations. Alternatively, automatic ticket vending machines can also be used.
The buses are more convenient, as they will get you closer to your destination. The bus routes cover every nook and cranny of the city. However, trying to work out which bus is yours can be a nightmare.
Buses have their number and destination displayed on the front, but only in Marathi. The English display is adjacent to the rear door. This makes it really difficult as the bus only stops for a very short time. Not allowing sufficient time to see if it’s the one you want.
Overcrowding is again the norm, so the view from the bus will be second to none. You may hit the jackpot and manage to catch an old Routemaster red double-decker bus. Never be afraid to ask for help. Fellow passengers or the bus conductor will usually be happy to help.
A conductor on the bus will sell you a ticket. Ask them to let you know when your stop is about to arrive and they will oblige.
Taxis and Auto Rickshaws
Taxis and auto-rickshaws are the most convenient ways to travel around Mumbai. The drivers of both will do their very best to overcharge you. They think that because you are a foreigner and travelling thousands of miles away from your home you can afford.
Always travel by the meter, no matter what they say. Believe us when we say, we were told some amazing stories as to why the meter couldn’t be used. If you are not travelling on the meter, agree to a price before you travel. Don’t be afraid to haggle, but be fair. Of course, it is entirely up to you how much you end up paying. With us, it was the principle of overcharging tourists that we didn’t agree with. We always gave a tip to the genuine and fair drivers, for being just that.
Getting around the larger cities is cheaper using the app-based taxi services of Uber or Ola. Cars and auto-rickshaws can be booked through these. No arguments over the fare and cheaper than ordinary taxis and Auto rickshaws.
The destination is entered at the time of booking. So no difficulty trying to explain where you want to go. The process of getting one can take a bit longer than just flagging a taxi on the street.
The system is an ongoing project. Currently Line 1, the blue line, of the proposed 14 lines is the only line that is open. This line is fully elevated and runs from Versova in the Western Suburbs to Ghatkopar in the Central Suburbs.
A new 2-in-1 metro card is available, which no longer needs to be taken to the station counters to be recharged. Done simply by transferring money from a bank account or debit card to the smart card. Thus eliminating the long queues at the ticket counters. The new card can also be used in the same manner as a debit or ATM card. Travellers and locals alike can now conveniently swap the same card for shopping and paying bills.
This makes the new cards suitable for everyday users as well as tourists. The twin usage smart card is now available for 50 Rupees, at customer care counters of any Metro stations.