Introducing Mumbai 01 Header

Introducing

Mumbai

India’s largest city is filled with contrasts. Mumbai is home to slums and Bollywood villas, ancient cave temples and modern skyscrapers, bustling street markets and serene city parks. Here are five good reasons to visit.

Discover Mumbai
Introducing Mumbai 02 Intro
© Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Mumbai is one of the largest cities in the world. Population estimates range from 13 to 19 million, even more if we include the outskirts. Truth be told, the bustle can be so overwhelming that some travellers leave the metropolis as fast as they can. But that would be a pity. Give Mumbai a chance and you will discover a city packed with surprising green oases, outstanding restaurants, unique architecture and many other attractions. 

Destination: Mumbai, India.
KLM flight: daily from Amsterdam and vice versa
Population: 13 million
Location: on the island of Salsette, just off India’s west coast.

  • Introducing Mumbai 02 Intro
    © Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
    © Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Introducing Mumbai 03 Elephant Island 1

The elephant statue that has given the island its name has been moved to the gardens of Jijamata Udyaan, but several cave temples with beautiful sculptured pillars, altars and Shiva statues dating back to the 5th century still stand among the dense jungle.

1. Elephanta Island

Before Mumbai underwent a massive overhaul in the 19th century, the city was set on seven different islands. The archipelago has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Over time, it has been ruled by Buddhist emperors, sultans and European colonisers. One of the loveliest and earliest remnants from this turbulent past can be found just outside the port area on Elephanta, which is still separate from the agglomerated main island of Salsette.

Introducing Mumbai 03 Elephant Island 2
  • Introducing Mumbai 04 Station 1 Main
    © Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
    © Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The illustrious history is also reflected in the city’s more recent architecture, in the very heart of the urban metropolis. The most photographed building is without a doubt the historic train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus; locals still use its old name Victoria Terminus or ‘VT’. The station is a fine example of colonial British architecture combined with Hindi and Muslim influences from Indian architecture.

Introducing Mumbai 04 Station 3
© Thomas Cockrem / Alamy Stock Photo
Introducing Mumbai 04 Station 2
© Tom Cockrem / gettyimages

After the first train chugged out of the station in 1853, it still took more than 30 years to complete the ornate arched railings, spires, gargoyles and stained-glass peacocks. The station was deservedly designated a UNESCO World Heritage monument in 2004.

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    © MJ Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
    © MJ Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Introducing Mumbai 05 Grreen Oasis 2
© Peter Horree / Alamy Stock Photo

The Hanging Gardens are also teeming with wildlife; but these creatures are sculpted into the local hedges with shears. Looking for more active pursuits? Hit the ball on the Oval Maidan: a huge lawn where young and old gather to play a round or two of cricket. 

3. Green Mumbai

With over 13 million people packed together, expect busy traffic with honking taxis, buzzing rickshaws and casually crossing oxen. But Mumbai is much more than traffic chaos. Look closer and you will discover a surprising amount of green space inside the city. Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a popular destination; a nature reserve that is home to wild macaques, flying foxes and even leopards.

Introducing Mumbai 05 Grreen Oasis 3
© Don Campbell / Alamy Stock Photo
  • Introducing Mumbai 06 Bollywood 1 Main
    © LAURA SEOANE / Alamy Stock Photo
    © LAURA SEOANE / Alamy Stock Photo

4. Bollywood

Mumbai is synonymous with Bollywood. The heart of Indian cinema, the local film industry spits out new blockbuster products at breakneck speed. The many cinemas that dot the streets of Mumbai attest to the fact that Indians are huge film buffs. Historic cinemas such as Eros, Maratha Mandir and Liberty have been screening films for decades.

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Introducing Mumbai 06 Bollywood 3
© FotoFlirt / Alamy Stock Photo

English subtitles make Bollywood films – often epic (love) stories portrayed in Hindi – very accessible to foreign visitors. Spectacular dance sequences, lip-synching actors and lavish costumes add plenty of local colour.

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    © Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
    © Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
Introducing Mumbai 07 Food 2
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Other local favourites include deep-fried ‘Bombay duck’ (curiously enough not duck, but fish), bhel puri (puffed rice with vegetables and tamarind sauce), butter-garlic crab and garlic curry. The city also offers plenty of gourmet treats. Wasabi by Morimoto, one of the city’s top eateries, has earned a spot in the Top 50 of Asia’s best restaurants with its photogenic finger food.

5. Indian cuisine

Mumbai is a feast for fans of Indian cuisine. On practically every street corner you will come across incredible culinary delights with unusual flavours, disguised as simple street fare. Mumbai’s most popular street snack is the vada pav; a deep-fried potato fritter made of chickpea flour, packed with spices and served on a white bun with chutney, garlic and chilli powder.

Introducing Mumbai 07 Food 3
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo