Mumbai, the financial and commercial capital of India, is a modern metropolis as well as a living museum of the British era in India. It was originally a cluster of seven islands namely, Colaba, Fort, Byculla, Parel, Worli, Matunga and Mahim, which have been linked through successive reclamations. In 1534, the seven islands were ceded to Portugal by the Sultan of Gujarat in the ‘Treaty of Bassein’. The major island of the group Mumbadeve, was passed on to Britishers in 1661, as part of the dowry when Catherine of Braganza married England’s Charles II. In 1665, the British occupied all the seven islands and leased them to East India Company. Today, the vibrant metropolis presents a true cosmopolitan outlook.
Mumbai is located on India's central-western coast along the Arabian Sea, and is the largest city inIndia. It is an island connected by bridges to the mainland, India's chief western seaport and the capital of Maharashtra state. The city is often called by its former official name 'Bombay'.
The climate of Mumbai is cool and pleasant between Novembers to February. Average temperature is between 18°C to 29°C. The lowest has been 7°C. Rainfall occurs during the months of June to august. The average annual rainfall is about 2200mm, and rest of the months are hot and humid, where the temperature averages from 27°C to 33°C. The highest temperature recorded is about 42°C, and the average annual humidity is around 90%.
In 1661, King Charles II of England married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal, and as part of the dowry he received, "Bombay" which is today known as Mumbai. Later in 1668, it was handed over to the East India Company.
In 1858, the administration of the country was taken over by the Queen of England, Queen Victoria, from the East India Company. A viceroy was appointed to rule India in the name of the Queen.
Bombay came under the direct rule of British in 1861. The first railway line in India was started between Bombay and Thane in 1861. In 1864, modern water supply began in Bombay (Mumbai) and in 1885, Bombay was lit with gas.
However, the joining of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian Politics in 1920, was a turning point in the political destiny of India which led to the Independence of India from the British rule. Bombay (Mumbai) had an important role to play in the event.
Gate way of India
The 26 metres high archway was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. It has a main, large arch flanked by two smaller arches, at the top are four spires enclosing a small space with large balconies on either side. An equestrian statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji and statue of Swami Vivekananda have been installed here. There are plenty of launches and cruisers anchored in the sea near the archway, which carry tourists to the famous Elephanta Caves. The famous Taj Mahal Hotel facing the Gateway of India is also a prominent landmark of Mumbai.
Elephant Caves (9km – 11 nautical miles by sea)
The 7th century rock cut cave temples on Gharapuri or Elephant Island dedicated to Lord Shiva is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. The Maheshmurti in the main cave is one of the most renowned and attractive sculptures. Hera Shiva is shown in one single carving as the Creator, Protector and Destroyer of the Universe. Other deities of Hindu trinity, Brahma and Vishnu are also shown in the panels along with Shiva. The island can be approached by launches and cruises available at the Gateway of India.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus)
This first railhead of India is one of the largest and oldest train terminuses of the East. Designed by F.W.Stevens in Gothic style, the modern terminus is one of the most magnificent railway stations of the world and was built over a ten-year period from 1878 – 88 at a cost of Rs. 16,35,562. The station has an imposing dome surmounted by a figure symbolising progress. Recently, it has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Hutatma Chowk (Flora Fountain)
The stone figure of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers is set at the junction of five busty streets. It is surrounded by fountains and host of mythological figures and was built in honour of Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay (1862 – 1867). There is also a martyr’s memorial in the same premises. Today, the area around the square is a flourishing business centre of Mumbai.
The imposing white-pinnacle building was built in 1878 and designed by Gen. A. fuller in English Gothic style. It is 169m long and the central structure soars up to 54.2 metres, surmounted by statues representing Justice and Mercy.
Rajabai Clock Tower
The 19th century clock tower at the university campus rises to a height of 79 m and is the most conspicuous landmark of Mumbai.
This colonnaded building overlooking the Horniman circle houses the Asiatic Society Library.
Netaji Subhash Marg or marine Drive
It is one of the most beautiful and popular promenades in the world. Reclaimed from the Back Bay, the drive starts from Nariman Point via Chowpatty Beach up to the Malabar Hill. Exhilarating view of the promenade can be enjoyed from Malabar Hill, especially at night, when the string of lights on the curve shine like pearls and appears like a ‘Queen’s Neclace’.
It houses an exotic collection of marine and fresh water fish.
Mockingly called the Bollywood by locals, the Film City clings to the outskirts of the National Park, and is practically overrun by assorted stars and starlets the demi Gods and Goddesses of modern India. Bollywood churns out over 900 films every year, all packed with those mandatory elements of song, dance, melodrama, violence and erotica that audiences love. Probably, this is why the Film City sets are heavily booked around the year. They are closed to visitors, but special permissions an always be obtained to check out the action. The city is also called the financial capital of India.
It is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Ganesha, the God of wisdom and prosperity on the fourth day of Bhadra. The festival is very popular in Mumbai. The preparations begin months in advance. Images of Ganesha are installed with elaborate arrangements of lighting and decoration, and celebrations are continue for 7-10 days.
The Maharashtran New Year's Day is celebrated in March/April, on the first day of Chaitra. It is a day of great festivity and rejoicing. People get up early and clean their houses, decorating them with intricate rangoli designs.
Mumbai Distance Guide