Prosperous Mumbai, a rapidly developing modern city, is actually an island connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. Among its sprawling maze of streets, opulence and adversity are found in equal measures. Take a look at the intricately carved turrets of the instantly recognisable Gateway of India, or hop onboard a boat to Elephanta Island, a collection of 6th century rock-hewn temples, reached by 100 hillside steps.
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It’s an age-old cliché, but Mumbai is your quintessential city of contrasts. Here, ancient temples and monuments stand side by side with glossy modern hotels, crowded slums are just around the corner from luxury apartment blocks, and while the rich flash their cash in the city’s coolest restaurants, Mumbai’s poorer residents wash their clothes in the Dhobi Ghat, a vast open-air laundry that’s been in use for nearly 150 years. Browse the markets, visit the museums and temples and admire the architecture, and you’ll soon discover that the most fascinating thing about this city is its juxtapositions.
Did you know?
Mumbai was known as Bombay until 1995, when it was renamed after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the patron of the city’s original inhabitants.
Mumbai is the most populous city in India, with 21.6 million inhabitants, also ranking it in the top 10 most populated cities in the world.
With a huge divide between rich and poor, Mumbai has the largest number of billionaires and millionaires of all cities in India.
Mumbai is home to Sanjay Ghandi National Park, a 10,000 hectare plot of tropical forest filled with butterflies, birds and occasionally, wild leopards.
How to get around
Ride a rickshaw
Mumbai boasts an extensive public transport network of buses, trains, ferries and the Metro system, all of which, although cheap, get exceptionally crowded. A more relaxing option for visitors is to hire a car with a driver for the day (or to join a tour), for which rates are pretty reasonable, although do agree them in advance – your hotel should be able to help you out. But for a true taste of this frenetic city, try a ride in an auto-rickshaw. While not the quickest option, rickshaw driver will do their best to weave you through the traffic, sometimes at an adrenaline-inducing pace, and they’re the ideal way to watch the craziness of the city pass by.