Mumbai is not just a city - she's a living, breathing entity that has a soul, face and heart. And once you know her, you can't be unaffected by her.
All you need to do is tune in to her vibes, and get set for a roller coaster ride of sensory adventures. The city originally called Bombay comprised seven islands. This group of islands has had a series of rulers claiming them as part of their territory including the Portuguese in the 16th century AD. They named the city ‘Bom Baia' meaning ‘Good Bay'.
The islands became part of the dowry of Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza when she married English King Charles II in 1662. Soon after, the city was leased to the East India Company. The British changed the Portuguese moniker to Bombay.
The city's original inhabitants, the Kolis, referred to the islands as ‘Mumba' after Mumbadevi, the Hindu goddess.
The British influence is still visible in the architecture of Mumbai in areas such as Churchgate, Ballard Pier and Fort.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the city's most important railway terminus (formerly known as Victoria Terminus) built in 1888, is an example of Victorian Gothic revival architecture in India and a World Heritage site.
Mumbai's history is also best seen through landmarks such as Marine Drive, which comprises a row of art deco buildings and a beautiful view of the Arabian Sea.
Flora Fountain, a stone fountain created in 1864, and located in Fort is also an integral part of the city, as is the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel that faces the Gateway.
You should also visit St. Thomas Cathedral, the city's first Anglican Church in Mumbai.
The Banganga Tank situated in the Walkeshwar Temple complex is also a good place to visit for mythology buffs. Tourists should also sign up for a walking tour of the city, organised by The Bombay Heritage Walks group.
Mumbai is also the epitome of contradictions.
It boasts the most millionaires in India as well
as Dharavi, Asia's largest slum. You could pass women dripping with diamonds in the foyer of the JW Marriott in Juhu and walk a little further and see illegal encroachers boil rice on a stove right off the main street. The city is also a fabulous place for shopaholics.
Budget shoppers should visit Colaba Causeway, Bandra (Linking and Hill Road) and Lokhandwala market (Andheri).
You can also get international brands such as Cartier, Jimmy Choo, Mango, Nine West, Aldo and Tommy Hilfiger in the city's high end malls and shopping arcades (in five star hotels).
Boutiques such as Ensemble, Ritu Kumar, Kimaya, Satya Paul and several others also have collections from Indian fashion designers. Visit stores such as Fab India and Anokhi for quality cotton clothing and linen.
Go jewellery shopping in Opera House, the area is dotted with reputable stores selling some exquisite jewellery.
While Mumbai has a whole slew of fine dining restaurants serving sumptuous international cuisine, the Mumbaikars have a penchant for spicy and savoury street food.
As the country's melting pot, you can get every imaginable street food from different areas of the country in little makeshift kiosks across the city - whether it's batata wadas (spicy potato dumplings in a bun with garlic and coriander chutney that make you sweat even on a cold December evening), dahi wada (lentil doughnuts served with sweetened curd, which also doubles as comfort food),
bhel puri (a delectable concoction of puffed rice, peanuts, onions, date and tamarind and coriander chutneys, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, raw mango and sev made from chick pea flour), pani puri (fried, crisp flour roundels filled with potatoes and sprouts, dunked in a spicy, sour liquid and gulped greedily) pav bhaji (a lip smacking, buttery mash of every imaginable vegetable served with onions, a dash of lime and bread) and masala dosas (delicate rice pancakes fried with clarified butter and stuffed with potatoes and peas).
The city also offers meat lovers places that offer sumptuous kheema pav (minced lamb with butter), lamb cutlets, chicken kebabs and mutton biryani. n
Air India, Indian Airlines, Emirates, Eithad, Air Arabia, Cathay Pacific and Gulf Air fly to Mumbai. You can apply
for a tourist visa at the Consulate General
of India in Dubai.
You can reach the visa officer at
04-3971222/ 3971333. You can visit the consulate general's website: www.cgidubai.ae, for more details.