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Also called Bombay, Mumbai is now the largest city in India, and one of its main economic lungs. The contrasts are striking, as everywhere in the country. Extreme poverty and wealth rub shoulders in sometimes indescribable chaos. It's hot, it's dusty and the streets swarm with people, day and night. Mumbai is an unusual city, and one you should absolutly experience during a visit to India. To help you prepare, we've selected 10 top sites and activities to discover:
Marine Drive (top) is the beautiful street which is especially well appreciated at the sunset, when the panorama is sumptuous. Nicknamed "The Queen's Necklace" because of the lampposts that line the avenue, this is one of the favorite walks of the inhabitants of Mumbai.
Transportation in India is a real attraction, so hop on a local bus and explores the city! Mumbai is famous for its double-decker buses, often crowded, but perfect for getting around the city, as well as being very economical! Start your trip with a city tour aboard a local bus, this will give you a glimpse of what you can do and see afterwards.
The District Of Colaba
Discover the beautiful buildings of the Colaba district: the India Gate, built in honor of British King George V, is one of Mumbai's iconic landmarks. Not far away, the Taj Mahal Palace is one of the most prestigious hotels in the country. Come at least for a drink!
The Heart Of Bollywood
Take a tour behind the scenes of Bollywood. Visit an old cinema, explore the film sets, and if you feel like it, play in one of these mythical (and, you have to admit, kitschy) movies. Ask at the front desk of your hotel or simply hang out in the streets of Colaba district, one of the places where agents come to hunt Western extras.
The Elephanta Caves
A former Hindu pilgrimage site, carved into the rock, the construction of this UNESCO World Heritage Site on Elephanta Island in Mumbai Bay dates back to the 5th century. Go to the India Gate from where you can catch a ferry that will take you there.
The Mumbai Bazaars
The labyrinth of their narrow streets is truly fascinating The Chor Bazaar is one of the most interesting, with its shops filled with Victorian furniture, old city photographs, and Bollywood posters. You can find everything, but above all, it's the atmosphere that makes it truly special. So grab a chai and enjoy!
Sassoon Docks Fish Market
Among the city's oldest docks are located near the district of Colaba and they are accessible to the public. The region of Mumbai was once home to small fishing villages of the Koli people, and it is they who today fish at the Sassoon Docks, in addition to perpetuating their folk traditions.
The Slum of Dharavi
The largest in the country and one of the largest in the world, Dharavi is home to around a million people and more than 10,000 companies. You can visit on your own or you can hire any tour operator, and 80 percent of the revenues from the visits are then donated to local associations. One operator, TravelogyIndia.es, takes operates a two-hour visit based not on voyeurism, but on the discovery of something that is a defining feature of urban Indian society.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by climbing to Malabar Hill, where the famous Banganga Basin (aka Banganga Tank) is located. Built in the 14th century, it is a sacred pool where Hindus come to bathe. Also home to the beautiful Walkeshwar temple, the site is very relaxing and contrasts singularly with the chaos that reigns below.
Holi, Diwali, or Ganesh Shaturthi - no matter, there is always a festival going on in Mumbai! Mingle with the public and learn more about the local culture.