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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the places of interest in Mumbai?

Aloke Bajpai DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Both glamorous and gritty, there is a dizzying variety of experiences and places not to be missed in Mumbai and you will have to make a lot of tough decisions when you are touring Mumbai-what to see and what to give a miss-because unless you are planning on caming out here, it will take you months to see it all. To help you make the choice, here are some of the visit worthy place not to be missed:

  • Gateway of India

    If there is one thing that defines Mumbai in popular memory after Bollywood or perhaps along with it, is the Gateway of India. Erected to commemorate the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary on Apollo Bunder in 1911, the monument wasn’t completed until 1924, with its design being laid out by George Wittet in 1914. Standing strong on the waterfront at the Mumbai Harbour, overlooking the expanse of the mighty Arabian sea, the Gateway of India was truly the gateway to India back in the days of the British Raj, serving as a ceremonial entrance to India for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay in addition to allowing entry and access to India. It was the first image visitors, arriving through the sea, would have seen of Mumbai, a symbol of the power and majesty of the British empire back in the early 20th century. Given its symbolism, it was only fitting and right that last British troops to leave India following India's independence, the first Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the gateway on their way out in a ceremony on 28 February 1948, signalling the end of its rule. Made of yellow basalt and reinforced concrete and 85 feet high, the structure of Gateway is a study in architecture in itself. Although it may be difficult for you to discern given the Gateway’s height and width, its design is a combination of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles, with its arch being modeled after the Roman triumphal arch. Gateway of India, being Mumbai’s top tourist attraction, is surrounded by equally legendary buildings and monuments. Right next to it is the imposing and magnificent Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel. Together they both are survivors of terrorist attacks. Opposite to the Gateway stands the statue of the mighty maratha warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, while on the other side is the statue of Swami Vivekananda, each balancing out the energy represented by the other, or so it appears. Today, the sea bound vehicles that embark from here are those belonging to the Atomic research center, Royal Bombay Yacht club or those heading over for commercial operations, Elephanta caves, Alibaug and Mandwa. Unfortunately, because of its significance, Gateway has been the victim of 2 terror attacks, both in 2003 and the point of disembarkation in 2008 for the four gunmen who attacked and held Taj Mahal and Palace hotel and the city hostage for 3 days. As a result of these attacks you will find police lingering around as a precautionary measure, a fact likely to miss your notice as the general revelry that grips this place every evening, late into the night, will have you occupied. Soak in the general bustle of tourists and city natives jostling about, enjoy a ride on the horse driven carriage and other festivities that envelope the place on a regular basis.

  • Elephanta Caves

    Right from the point you embark from Gateway of India on a ferry to the point you land and explore the city of caves, you cannot help shake off the feeling of being in an Indiana Jones type adventure. Elephanta caves, a UNESCO World heritage site, located on Elephanta Islands or Gharapuri (city of caves) that lies 10 km east to the Mumbai harbour, is a group of 2 caves; the five rock cut caves you come across in the western hills are the Hindu caves while the 2 caves in the Eastern hills are the Buddhist caves. You will understand why the caves are divided in this way once you begin the exploration. Begin your climb up the western hills and after a trek of about 1.6 km you enter Cave 1 that faces the ocean. Cut out of rocks, the temple covers an area of 60,000 sq ft. Front to the back, you will be covering an approximate distance of 128 feet. Along the way you will find remnants of beautiful carvings depicting Shiva in his several forms and acts. Cave 2, 3, 4 (Sitabai’s temple) and 5 lie further along the path. Once you have explored the western hill caves, trek over to the eastern hills where Cave 6 and 7 depict Buddhist monuments and one of them contains a Stupa (mound like structure containing Buddhist relics) made in brick, after which the hill is named. Your climb and walk around the hills will take you through forests of mango, tamarind and karanj trees, overlooking rice fields. Interestingly, the origin of the paintings in the caves is unknown, though several conjectures have been made and art historians have dated the caves to late 5th to 8th century. You might wonder why the island and caves are called Elephanta? Back in 1534, when the Portuguese began their rule, they named the island Elephanta when they saw gigantic statue of an elephant at the entrance of the caves. Before the Portuguese came, the island was a place of Hindu worship. The elephant statue now resides in the garden outside Bhau Daji Lad (earlier Victoria & Albert) Museum at the Jijamata Udyan (earlier Victoria Gardens) at Byculla in Mumbai.
  • Bandra Fort

    Castella de Aguada, more popularly known as Bandra Fort, was built by the Portuguese in 1640 as a watchtower, to guard the northern sea route into Mumbai Harbour. It may lost its strategic value now, but that hasn’t dampened its appeal and lure. Overlooking the Mahim bay, Arabian sea and southern island of Mahim and marking the southernmost tip of the mainland, the fort offers an incomparable view of the Arabian ocean. Standing at the part that juts out into the sea, you will find yourself mesmerized and captivated by the expanse of blue that stretches as far as your eyes can, meeting the horizon at a faintly discernable curve. Recently, in 2003, a conservation program was started to preserve the crumbling away bits. Much of the erosion if the fort is due to passage of time and non-maintenance but the blame for some of the collapse can be placed firmly on the British. Following the decline of Portuguese in early 18th century, when the Marathas became the next big threat to the Britishers partially demolished the fort as a precautionary measure, removing with it the possibility of the fort being used as a forward military base to attack British Bombay.

  • Malabar Hills

    The well heeled region of Malabar hills in south Mumbai, is a small microcosm of sightseeing sights in itself. Known for the Banganga tank located inside the Walkeshwar temple, the Hanging and Kamala Nehru gardens, Jain temple dedicated to Adinath and the Parsi Tower of Silence, are also situated in Malabar hills. Make a trip to this hillock perched at a height of 165 feet, highest point in south Mumbai and you can combine a visit to the temples with an exploration of the beautiful grounds of the 2 gardens.
    Perched on top of the
    western side of the Malabar hills, the immaculate Ferozeshah Mehta gardens, more popularly known as the Hanging gardens, spreads out over the western slope. Surrounded by delicately manicured trees and shrubs cut out in the shape of animals, you will find yourself in a particularly restive and tranquil place filled with flowers in every nook and cranny. Right opposite it is the Kamala Nehru park, named after Jawaharlal Nehru’s wife. When you enter it, you will be faced with this giant shoe and will be immediately racking your brains for the childhood rhyme from which the shoe shaped cottage is inspired. To save you the trouble, the nursery rhyme goes There was an old woman who lived in a shoe...
    The real lure of both the gardens is the unbroken, incredible views they provide of the Arabian sea, chowpatty and Queen’s necklace.

  • Marine Drive

    One of the most talked about places in Mumbai, Marine drive is really a promenade, hugging the coast, its curve set in utter perfection, from Nariman Point to Chowpatty beach at the foot of Malabar hills. The drive is only and best explored on foot. Offering one of the best views of the mammoth city that Mumbai is, at Marine drive you will be maneuvering your way around exercisers, joggers, couples sinking steadily into each others eyes and kids and dogs out on a walk held onto tightly by no-nonsense nannies,  especially early mornings and evenings. Windswept, you can watch an endless horizon and expanse of blue-an ultimate escape in a city that can get claustrophobic. A walk along Marine drive as the evening melts into night and the sun dives beyond the Arabian sea is must to have on your itinerary of things to do in Mumbai-an experience without which you cannot truly say you have been to and experienced Mumbai in its element. As you eye the horizon, watching the sun sink, even as the waves crashing against the beautiful, huge sea rocks, play a steady rhythm in the background and you stand rooted in utter awe, you can witness before your very eyes the streets lights of Back Bay transforming Marine drive into Queen’s necklace, a length of twinkling lights that appear as a choker of twinkling jewels fit for a Queen.

  • Beaches

    Situated along the shores of the Arabian Sea, a visit to this bustling city is incomplete without a walk on the beach. Want to discover the life of Mumbai? Head to any of its famous beaches and just sit back. Crowded with umpteen food stalls, a soft murmur of haggling, excitement and confusion will envelop you. Usually marked by a maddening rush of people, beaches in Mumbai surprisingly do offer precious moments of silence. The beaches to visit are Juhu, Chowpatty, Versova and Aksa. each with its own distinct flavour and personality to keep things interesting.

Prepare yourself for a multisensory vacation experience that will leave you enthralled, exhilarated and entranced. Roll your sleeves, not just because its humid, put on your sunhat and walking shoes and head out in this city that never sleeps for a journey filled with exploration, happenstance and serendipity-after all isn’t that what vacations are about-serendipitous discoveries.

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