Difference between revisions of "Mumbai"
Revision as of 09:43, 29 January 2013
Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई) , a cosmopolitan metropolis, earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city in India and the capital of Maharashtra state. Mumbai was originally a conglomeration of seven islands on the Konkan coastline which over time were joined to form the island city of Bombay. The island was in turn joined with the neighbouring island of Salsette to form Greater Bombay. The city has an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million (2005), making it one of the world's most populous cities.
Mumbai is undoubtedly the commercial capital of India and is one of the predominant port cities in the country. Mumbai's nature as the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian city is symbolized in the presence of Bollywood within the city, the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries. It is also home to India's largest slum population.
Mumbai is a bustling, diverse metropolis with a flare all its own. The entrepreneurial spirit and pulsing pace of life provide a sharp contrast to much of the rest of India.
There has been much debate regarding the original name of the city. Some say the current name of the city Mumbai is the original name; and is an eponym derived from "Mumba", the name of the local Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and "Aai", meaning "mother" in Marathi. Others claim Bombay was an anglicized version of Bom Bahia, a name given by the Portuguese to mean "Beautiful Bay" and later made popular by the British as the name of the Bombay state.
The name was officially changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995. Although Bombay and Mumbai are both used, people who explicitly use "Bombay" are generally non-Marathi speakers whereas "Mumbai" proponents primarily speak Marathi. In the West, Mumbai has become more commonly accepted in order to avoid controversy. It is also fondly called as आमची मुंबई ("our Mumbai").
Though the seven islands that now make up the city have a long recorded history like any other place in India, their journey to form the city of Mumbai really started in 1498, when the Portuguese took them over from the Sultan of Gujarat. They built a settlement, forts, and churches, (including the strange looking Portuguese Church that stands to this day.) They, however, could not make much of their possession and the seven islands were handed over to England in 1661 as part of the dowry of Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He wasn't very interested in the islands either, and he leased them to the British East India Company for £10 a year in 1668. The East India Company built the docks, the trading posts, and the fort that would form the nerve centre of the city. They also started off the long process of reclaiming land and joining the islands, an activity which went on until the 1960s.
The port attracted industries and the entrepreneurial communities like the Parsis, Gujaratis, and Marwaris (from Rajasthan) migrated and set up trading companies and factories in the late 19th century. Industries attracted migrant labor from different parts of the country. The successive waves of migration shaped the character of the city and its neighborhoods.
The city that owes its existence to the efforts of the British was also the birthplace of the Indian National Congress, which played an overwhelmingly important role in the independence movement. The city whose mills were built by industrialists from across the country is the capital of Maharashtra state, which was carved on linguistic lines for Marathi speakers.
In the 80s, high labour costs and unrest forced the closure of many textile mills and the city went into a decline from which it started recovering only in the late 90s. The high population put a strain on the infrastructure. The rail and road network has been undergoing a steady improvement over the 90s, but because of the magnitude of the task, the roads seem to be perennially under construction. Mumbai has now reinvented itself as a hub for the Service industry.
In January 1993, in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, a wave of riots swept the city, with over 1000 people killed, the vast majority of whom were Muslims. Relations between the city's various ethnic groups have been tense ever since, with several terrorist outrages (see #Stay safe) adding fuel to the fire.
Culture and attitudes
Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India. In comparison with the rest of the country, the city is quite liberal. With a regular influx of immigrants from rest of India, the citizens, popularly known as 'Mumbaikers', have shown remarkable tolerance towards other cultures, making it a true cultural melting pot. However in recent times, this tolerance has sometimes bowed under external pressures. Between the 60s and 80s, there was resentment about the non-Marathi speakers taking away jobs. The 1991 and 1993 riots between Hindus and Muslims did attempt to affect this spirit, however the city largely managed to recover from these, although serious divisions remain as memories remain scarred.
Mumbai has three main seasons — Summer, Monsoon, and Winter (milder summer). The best time to visit is during the winter between November and February. Humidity is also less during the winter, when the climate is pleasant; the minimum temperature is 17 degrees centigrade and the maximum is 30-31 degrees. Summer is from March to May with highs in the low to mid 30s (roughly 80-90°F). It is hot and humid during this time. June to September is the monsoon season when the city is lashed by heavy rains. The city gets flooded two or three times and normal life gets disrupted during this season. Climate is humid pretty much throughout the year because the city rests on the coast.
Mumbai has excellent connectivity with most of the major cities around the world, including, New York, London, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur to name a few. If you are flying from Europe it is generally cheaper to fly from London, and there are many flights daily. Most of the domestic sectors too are linked to Mumbai, making it the busiest hub in the country.
Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA: BOM) (ICAO: VABB) is India's busiest airport and one of the main international gateways to the country. Many international airlines such as British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa, Qantas & Singapore Airlines, fly into Mumbai. Low-cost carriers such as AirAsia  also fly to the city.
The airport consists mainly of two terminals (for Domestic & International purposes) - both terminals use the same airspace but are 4km apart. There is a free shuttle bus connecting them but be prepared for long delays through security. Going from Domestic to International you are taken outside the airport and you will re-enter through International Departures.
The domestic terminals are undergoing a long overdue upgrade. Terminal 1B now meets international standards and work is going on at Terminal 1A.
Terminal 2C is considerably better than the others.
Overall, construction of an entire new International terminal is currently ongoing; expect it to be ready in a maximum of three years.
To and from airport
The airport is 28 km from downtown. Take a prepaid coupon taxi to minimize hassle. Never pay more than Rs 450-600 for a prepaid taxi. This amount should get you all the way to the southernmost point of Colaba, the main tourist district. While it is possible to take metered taxis to your eventual destination, it is always a safer bet to take the prepaid taxis, in order to avoid being taken to your destination via a longer route, thus increasing the meter reading! While it is not mandatory to pay extra charges for your luggage, a tip of Rs 50-100 shall always be appreciated. Be extra careful with the main prepaid counter on the left as you leave the terminal. There is a well-known scam with the employees here replacing your 500 rupee bill with a 100 rupee bill and giving you change for the latter.
There are many prepaid taxi offices all in a row as you are exiting the airport, if one offers a very high rate, just walk to the next window and so forth until you find one with a good rate. Go to the taxi office and purchase a coupon to take to the driver. The coupon will have the taxi registration number written on it. Make sure that you get into that very taxi. Do not accept a lift from someone claiming to be a taxi driver as they may charge much higher prices designed to target tourists. The charges will depend on the general area you need to get to and will include all tolls to be paid. Most premium hotels will organize their own cars which is a much better alternative.
While most drivers should not have any problem delivering you to major hotels and intersections, do not assume your driver will be familiar with lesser known hotels etc.. Before departing, make sure you have secured full address of your destination. By taking this extra step, you should avoid any delays.
You can also take a bus/taxi to Vile Parle Station and take a local train from there. Travel 1st class to avoid hassle. Do not try this during the morning rush. It's a good option in the evening, since it's off-peak direction then.
Parking at airports
Paid parking is available at the airport. The charges are Rs 60 per four hour block for cars. Longer term parking is available in a "premium" area, but it is hideously expensive, amounting to Rs 600 per day.
There are ATM terminals in the international arrival area and many moneychangers near the exit as well. In order to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, you will need cash rupees. There are prepaid taxi dispatch desks nearby, but they accept only cash, and only rupees.
As in any other city, local people may try to take advantage of tourists who are unfamiliar with the area. Although you are bound to run into many different tourist traps while you are in Mumbai one should be aware that when your taxi cab pulls up to the airport a man will more than likely get your luggage out of the trunk, put it in a cart, push it towards the terminal asking for a Rs 500+ baggage fee along the way. There is no baggage fee; it is best to decline the offer take the cart and pushing it yourself.
Numerous travel organizations now offer cruises to Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, etc. Though the cruise industry is still developing, Mumbai can be reached by such cruises. Ferries from Ferry Wharf allow cheap access to islands and beaches in the vicinity of the city and the Elephanta caves.
The Konkan Railway (which is a separately administered and newly built line) travels through the picturesque Konkan coast of Maharastra and is a good way to travel from Goa,[Mangalore]] and Kerala . The Dadar Terminus is the destination for the line.
National highway numbers 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 17, and the Mumbai-Pune expressway radiate from the city providing links to all parts of the country. The road conditions are generally better than in the rest of India. The comfortable airconditioned blue cabs are available to Pune and Ahmednagar-Nashik from opposite Asiad Bus Termina in Dadar and Lakhamsi Nappoo Rd near Dadar east railway station respectively. Distances from various cities to Mumbai are:
Mumbai is well served by buses from destinations inside India.
Most of Mumbai's inhabitants rely on public transport to and from their workplace due to the lack of parking spaces, traffic bottlenecks, and generally poor road conditions, especially in the monsoon. However, do ride in a taxi and auto at least once in the city. If you are not used to Indian roads, an autorickshaw ride can be a heart-stopping, death-defying, laws-of-physics-bending adventure in a vehicle that feels like it might fall apart at a speed over 30 km/h with a driver who thinks he's Schumacher.
Black & Yellow Top Taxi
Taxis are cheap and plentiful ($15-18 should be enough to take you from one end of the city to the other). Most taxis in Mumbai are small-medium sized cars (non air-conditioned), painted black-and-yellow (black on lower body and yellow on roof). You can hail a cab off the streets. However, many are quite rickety, dirty, and carry mechanical fare meters that could be tampered at times. Also, according to law, a black-and-yellow taxi driver cannot refuse a fare. If a driver does refuse, a threat to complain to the nearest cop usually does the trick.
Generally, the only way to call for the standard taxi is to hail one on the street. This will not be a problem if you are inside city limits (i.e. North Central Bombay and below). If you are in the suburbs, it will be difficult to find a taxi as they have been out-competed by the cheaper auto-rickshaws.
The maximum number of passengers allowed for a trip officially is four — three in the back seat and one in the front. Seat belts are not mandatory for taxi passengers and most standard black and yellow taxis will not even have them installed, though expect them in the branded ones.
However, if you want a comfortable, air-conditioned ride at a small surcharge of 25 percent over normal taxis it's best to travel by branded cab services that operate at government-approved tariffs. These services operate modern fleets with well trained drivers. You can get them at 30-60 minutes notice, they are clean, air-conditioned, equipped with digital, tamper-proof meters, punctual, honest, and GPS-equipped-monitored, which makes them far secure at any time. If you're using a mobile phone, you receive an SMS with the driver's name, mobile number and car number 30 minutes before scheduled departure. Charges are Rs 22 for the first kilometre and Rs 15 for subsequent kilometres, with a 25% night surcharge (midnight-5AM). Some can be booked online.
Some branded cab services are:
Some of the Car Rental Operators are:
If you travel alone, especially in night, then always see the meter by yourself and then pay the fare. If you are alone, sit in front so that you can see the meter. Most frauds take place at railway terminuses and at the airport.
Auto-rickshaws are only allowed to operate beyond Bandra in the western suburbs and beyond Sion in the central suburbs. They are not issued licenses in the downtown areas.
Before departing, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down reading as 1.00. If the the number is higher, insist that the driver flags it down once again. The minimum fare is now Rs 15. The meter remains at 1.00 for the first 1.6 km and every 0.10 movement indicates approx 200 m (ie 1.50 for every 0.2 kms). The fare is Rs 7 for every km, except for the first 1.6 km for which it is Rs 12. 2.0 on the meter will cost you 26 Rs, 3.0 = 40 Rs, 4.0 = 54 Rs and so on. The meter also keeps ticking if you are waiting and/or are stuck in traffic. It's quite handy to have a copy of the meter card issued by The Mumbai Traffic Police.
Auto-rickshaws are slower than cars and have terrible suspensions. Pregnant ladies are most strongly advised not to travel by auto-rickshaws since the combination of rash driving, poor suspensions, and horrible road conditions have quite often led to serious complications. The auto-rickshaw is a slow and uncomfortable vehicle and not recommended for very long distances.
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (known as BEST)  provides efficient and comprehensive services connecting up all places of the city and the suburbs. Some services also link the city with the extended suburbs like Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Mira-Bhayanadar areas. Seats are almost always occupied. There are bus stops all over the city. There is usually a crowd and and queue. You have to get in through the rear entrance and off at the front. Tickets are issued by a uniformed "conductor" after you get in. Special seats are marked for "Ladies", "Senior Citizens", "Handicapped", "Expectant Women", and "Women with infants". They can get in from the front.
Buses run from 5AM to midnight. Selected routes run beyond these timings, but much less often. Average frequency between buses ranges from five to 30 min depending on the route. Fares are reasonable and buses can be travelled during peak hours, unlike trains which are far too crowded. Some trunk routes do get extremely crowded however. Peak hours also have traffic snarls which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads.
BEST has introduced the "DayPass" (Cost for adults — Rs 40 (across Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai and Thane) - for children it's less), a ticket valid all day (until midnight) on all buses except Express and A/C services. A/C "Day Pass" costs Rs 150/- (across Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai and Thane) - a ticket valid all day (until midnight) on all BEST A/C & Non-A/C buses. But any of such "Day Pass" can be availed by only those passengers who hold the SMART Photo ID Card(cost Rs. 25/-) issued by BEST.
Suburban rail network
Most people travel in Mumbai using the Suburban Rail Network commonly referred to as "Locals". Mumbai has an extensive network, with three lines — the Western Line, the Central Main Line, and the Harbour Line.
Trains on all lines start operations after 4AM and close operations between midnight and 1AM. Second class travel is very cheap. However, it is advisable to buy first class tickets as the economy class is extremely crowded. First Class can be quite expensive and if four people are travelling together, a taxi might be better. There would always be queues and it would be advisable to buy coupon booklets.
If you are a tourist, you can buy a 'Tourist Ticket'. It costs Rs.160 and you can travel in first class compartments of all the three lines during the entire day. Ensure the location of the first class compartment before the train arrives. You may ask fellow passengers or the vendors at the various foodstalls. An easier way to spot the location of the First class compartment is to check the station walls painted with red and yellow slant stripes.
Avoid using local trains during rush hour (first class or otherwise). Rush hour is 8:30AM-10:30AM towards CST and Churchgate and 5:30PM-8:30PM in the opposite direction. If you must transit during rush hour, avoid, at all costs, standing near the train car entry, as you will be swamped by a frantic, every man for himself, stampede of men attempting to get on the car. Take no offense if you are pushed and shoved about, as passengers jostle for a spot. As you near your exit station, ensure that you are as close as possible to the train door, as experienced commuters, will be begin the mad run to be first on, or off, the car before the car comes to a full stop! If you stand any chance of getting on/off before the train depart, you must be equally aggressive in your focus to exit/enter, remember no one will take offense if you make contact with others, as you wriggle by! Last, but not least, exiting/entering a train before it comes to a full stop is not something to be taken lightly, one misstep can send a person onto the rails with an amazing ease! Leave the stunts to the experienced locals.
There are special coaches for women on both classes. These are designated by green and yellow slant stripes, spot these stripes on the station walls and you'll know where the ladies compartment is. These are generally less crowded and safer. But very late at night, it might actually be safer to travel by the general coach than the first-class women's coach, as the latter may be absolutely empty except for you. From 11.15pm - 6:30am the ladies compartment towards the northern end is open to general public. Sometimes they have a cop guarding the coaches, but sometimes they won't. Use your judgment.
The Mumbai Metro is currently under construction and is due to be completed soon.
These are a few intra-city ferry services:
Travel agents and hotels can arrange private chauffeur driven cars to provide services. Expensive by comparison with taxis, they are the most trusted, secure, and comfortable way to travel around the city. Driving in Mumbai can be difficult, because of poor driver discipline, but chauffeur driven services are very reasonable. These can be arranged by travel companies or online from the countries of origin. Car rental agencies such as taxiGUIDE.in , Clear Car Rental , Avis  and Hertz  also have services in Mumbai.
Mumbai is India's melting pot — a confluence of people from various parts of India, but dominant are people from the west, then north, and followed by the south. Marathi is the state and city official language used by State Government agencies, municipal authorities, and the local police, and also the first langauge of most locals.
However, being India's largest city and main commercial centre, Mumbai is now also home to migrants from other parts of India who do not speak Marathi. A local variant of Hindi, with strong Bollywood influence, called Bambaiya Hindi serves as the "lingua franca" and although almost everyone can understand normal Hindi, you may get an interesting reply from some. Most educated locals will be trilingual in Marathi, Hindi and English.
English is widely used in the corporate world and in banking and trading. At most places, you will be able to get by with Hindi and English, as most people you will encounter can communicate in broken English at the very least. However expect to hear more regional languages including Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Sindhi based on work & location.
According to 2011 census Mumbai has a literacy rate of 94.7%, higher than the national average of 86.7%. Locals in Mumbai can manage to speak in broken english and those working in corporates and belonging to middle, upper middle and high class can speak fluent english.
By Indian standards, Mumbai is a young city and much of the land comprising the city did not exist until it was claimed from the sea over three centuries ago. It is therefore, a pleasant surprise to find rock cut caves such as the Elephanta, Kanheri, and Mahakali within city limits.
The British built a magnificent city within the walls of Fort St. George, which lies at the southern extremity of the city. Some fine examples of the Gothic revival, Neo-classical style and Indo-Saracenic style are seen within this area. To get the best [South Mumbai] experience, stroll around the wide streets of the area right from Churchgate to Colaba. These areas are all beautifully planned and have wide and clean pavements unlike the rest of the city. Famous monuments to be seen in this area are the Gateway of India, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus) building, the Municipal Corporation and Police Headquarters and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sanghralaya (formerly, the Prince Of Wales museum). The famous Taj Mahal hotel is located just opposite the Gateway of India. The Mumbai University buildings and the High Court are also excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city.
There are a lot of other modern structures to look at in this area. The area known as Marine Drive (right from Chowpatty beach to NCPA) is home to a large number of buildings built in the Art Deco style. Mumbai is second only to Miami in the number of Art Deco buildings. some famous buildings in this style are the Eros and Regal cinemas.
Museums and galleries
Some of the most famous museums and art galleries in India are found here. The Kala Ghoda area in South Mumbai teems with them, particularly the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) , and the National Gallery of Modern Art . Once again, most of them are concentrated in South Mumbai. Also worth planning a visit is Jehangir Art Gallery, also at Kala Ghoda, displays changing exhibits by notable artists. The plaza next to the gallery also regularly displays exhibits of various artists.
Situated in Nehru Complex in Worli is Nehru Centre Art Gallery at Worli, a gallery dedicated to young and promising talent along with established artists. Also within the complex is located a permanent exposition, Discovery of India, which attempts to cover every aspect of artistic, intellectual and philosophical attainment of India through ages. The exposition spreads across 14 galleries and reflects true identity of the country. On the other end of the complex, Nehru Science Centre - which has a separate entrance from Mahalaxmi race course road, has a permanent exhibition on 'interactive and exciting' science related exhibits highlighting science principles in fun yet educational way.
Mumbai has a few beaches, including one in the downtown area. But they aren't that great and the water off Mumbai's coast is extraordinarily dirty. The relatively better ones are in the Northwest Mumbai area. However, they are a great place to see how the locals spend their Sunday evenings, with various food and game stalls.
There are other beaches to be found such as the Girgaon Chowpaty in South Mumbai, Juhu beach in the western suburbs and Aksa Beach in Malad. The currents don't seem strong, but particularly in the rains, lots of people die from drowning, so avoid getting in the water (especially at Aksa Beach). A word of advice to women: Bombay beaches are not the kind you can wear swimsuits to, particularly two-pieces.
Zoos, parks and gardens
Mumbai has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. It is also one of the rare metropolises to have an entire national park within its borders. (Borivali national park also known as Sanjay Gandhi National Park). You will not visit Mumbai for them, but if you are already here, they make a nice escape from the din and bustle. It also houses the ancient Kanheri Caves crafted out of rocky cliffs, which dates back to 2,400 years. Entrance fee: Indians/Foreigns 30/30
The city zoo (Veermata Jijabai Udyan) is in Byculla and is a colonial relic which is surprisingly well-preserved. The animals may look rather emaciated, but the sheer diversity of trees on this lush zoo is worth a trip.
Some city parks are very well-maintained and combine history as well. The "Hanging Gardens" on Malabar Hill offers stunning vistas of the Marine Drive. Opposite the Hanging Gardens, there is another park which is known as Kamla Nehru Park, famous for the striking shoe-shaped structure which has been filmed in variuos Bollywood movies
Further in South Mumbai, the Mumbai Port Trust Garden, is another hidden gem. This is set off a small side street off the Colaba Causeway 2-3 kms south of the main section. Once again, lovely views of the port, the naval yards, and sunset.
In central Mumbai, there are the Five Gardens. Mainly used by walkers in the morning, it is a mess in the evenings. But the gardens encircle some historic, art deco residences.
Markets and crowds
Mumbai is probably worth visiting just for its street markets, the hustle of vendors, and the madness of the crowds.
Modern buildings and malls
Once the British left, the zeal to wipe away the traces of colonial rule was, unfortunately, not matched by the enthusiasm to build a new city that matched the grandeur of the British-era buildings. Now, while the shabbiness of the socialist era is thankfully being replaced by architecture with an eye on aesthetics, the new malls, multiplexes, and office buildings that are coming up are indistinguishable from those anywhere else in the world. Still, they are worth a look, especially if you want to have a look at India's success story. Skyscrapers exceeding 60 stories now dominate the skyline.
For long, Inorbit Mall was the only mall offering a lot of variety for shoppers. Palladium, built within the High Street Phoenix, broke the monopoly of Inorbit Mall. From state of the art interiors to international brands, the Palladium has everything. Nirmal Lifestyles Mall in Mulund and Metro Junction Mall in Kalyan are two of the largest malls in Mumbai. Located in the central suburbs, they are quite popular in the city.
Powai is a modern central mumbai suburb with European looks. Powai houses the Indian Institute of Technology and is built around fabulous lake. Most of the construction is in a township format and is privately built. It houses twenty top of the line restaurants, two large convenience stores, a handful of coffee shops and entertainment areas. Initially built as an upmarket self contained township, Powai has now grown into a business process outsourcing hub in Mumbai. The township reflects both characteristics; you will often find families shopping and twenty somethings hanging out in tables next to each other.
Mumbai has temples, mosques, churches, Parsi agiaries, and even a few synagogues reflecting the diversity of its citizens. While these are naturally of interest if you are a believer, some, like the Portuguese church at Dadar are worth visiting just for their unique architecture.
Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most visited places in Mumbai. The Dargah Sharief is built on a tiny islet located 500 meters from the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay, in the vicinity of Worli. People from different religion and places visit this places. More than 80,000 people visit dargah every week.
One notable monument in the northwest suburbs of Mumbai is the Global Vipassana Pagoda (Global Pagoda), Gorai, Mumbai. It is a mediatation centre that can seat 8000 people. Vipassana literally means meditaion, and the centre runs 10-day meditation courses and 1 day mega couses on Sundays. The courses are free of cost but you would have to register for them in advance on their website.
Siddhivinayak temple of Mumbai is very famous. It is located in Dadar and you can easily get a taxi to go to the temple from the Dadar railway station.
The city also boasts of Jewish places of worship predominantly in the area called Byculla.In this area the three prominent sub castes amongst inhabiting Jews of Mumbai lived .They were Bagdadi Jews,Bene Israelis and the locals who had conveted over a period of time and lived in the hinterland.
Two days in Mumbai - your guide to spending two days in the city.
There are many spots near mumbai in which you can go for camping. Camping can be done safely on spots such as Lonavala, Tungarli Lake, Valvan Lake, Rajmachi, Mahableshwar, Panchgani, Kashid & Phansad. You can try out letscampout.com  for more options on camping near Mumbai. Rusticville  offers excellent hill top camping at Tikona near Lonavala.
There is a lot to do in Mumbai, but lack of space means that for outdoorsy activities, you need to head north, often outside city limits. In the Northwestern suburbs and Thane, you will find opportunities for water sports like H20 at Girgaum Chowpatty. There are two golf courses in the city, the more famous one in Chembur in the Harbour suburbs.
Mumbai has a vibrant theater scene with plays in many languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi. While South Mumbai has frequent performances, the best organized theater effort is at Prithvi theater, Juhu in the Western Suburbs. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Indian classical music and dance. While not a patch on the Sabhas of Chennai, you will find frequent performances of Carnatic music in Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga in the South Central suburbs.
Mumbai is also usually the first stop for Western pop and rock stars visiting India, which they usually do when they are over 50. The Rock scene is very good in Mumbai. These are very safe to go to and are recommended for rock fans. Most bands cover heavy metal acts like Pantera, Six feet under, and Slipknot, but at places like 'Not just jazz by the bay', there are treats for Jazz fans, as well. To try to find places with specific music tastes try asking students outside Mumbai's colleges. Western classical music performances are rarer. However most classical music performances along with other art forms are regularly performed at NCPA  and Tata Theatre , both situated next to the the narrow strip at Nariman Point.
While many religious festivals are celebrated by people in Mumbai, a few of these are essentially public and social occasions, where the traveller can participate.
Organized festivals & events
Mumbai inherits the cricket fever justifiably and has 3 of the finest Crickets stadiums namely Brabourne Stadium (Churchgate), Wankhede Stadium (Marine Lines) and D.Y.Patil Stadium (Navi Mumbai). Several of international cricket matches and domestic championships such as IPL have been played in these stadiums. Watch out for upcoming cricket stadium to join the cricket frenzy crowd. Apart from these, Ruia College, Shivaji Park, Azad Maidan, Marine Lines are some of the places where live cricket action can be seen for free. Alternatively if you are a football (soccer) fan, you may want to visit Cooperage Football ground (Colaba) for a local league match. For swimming enthusiasists, Mahatma Gandhi Swimming Pool (Dadar W) is the place to visit. For horse racing, head straight to Mahalakshmi Race Course (Mahalakshmi). Powai hosts some of the finest Golf fields. For others there are many sport activities including Tennis, Table Tennis, Badminton which can be practised at various clubs. Gyms are plenty and can be easily found.
Nariman Point and Fort are the commercial hubs of the city and the most sought after destinations. There is a significant expatriate population working in the banks and financial services industries. Bandra-Kurla region has come up in recent years too, but remains less desirable.
Advertising industry is a prominent industry in Mumbai. Many of the top advertisings companies such as Lintas, O&M, Saachi & Saachi, Contract, Trikaya Grey have their offices in the city.
A good idea to make quick money is to work part-time in a BPO or a call center most of which are concentrated at Mindspace, Malad(W) and Hiranandani Gardens (Powai). A part-time job can pay you as much as Rs 15,000 a month for just six hours a day for five days in a week. Only good for English speaking travellers.
Foreigners can also earn a quick buck as extras in Bollywood movies. Pay rates average Rs 500-700 for a full day (8AM-8PM). Bring a book as there is alot of time spent sitting around, so it's not something do do for the money. Normally you won't have to look for them as they will be asking tourists near Leopolds or your hotel manager may ask you when you book in.
Visa and Master cards are widely accepted in the city shops. Many shopping establishments also accept American Express, Diners and host of other cards. However, some of the small shops or family-run shops may not accept these cards and some handy cash can be of help here. ATMs are widely available and many debit cards accepted as well. If you have an Indian bank account or credit card, you may not need to carry too much of cash. If you are a foreigner, it is a good idea to carry some cash to avoid charges while using your credit or debit card.
In general, costs in Mumbai are higher than the rest of India, though they are still much lower by Western standards.
The shopping experience in the city is a study in contrasts. At the lower end of the spectrum are street vendors. Existing at the borderline of legality, entire streets have been given over to these hawkers and in many places it is impossible to walk on the footpaths, because they have blocked the way. On the other hand, these vendors often give you a great bargain though you will have to haggle a lot and be careful about what to buy. There's nothing like taking a local along to shop for you. Some famous shopping streets are:
What to buy
Kurties and tunics', a must have in India. Linkin Laado has a wide range of classy kurties, fushion ethnic wear and exquisite dress materials in most sought after pure fabrics such as muls, cottons, maheshwari and chanderi silk etc in handblock prints and intrinsic chikankari work. The shop is situated at Link Square Mall, Shop No. F5, Opposite KFC, Above Croma, Linking Road, Bandra West.
Mumbai has large number of organized book shops. However it also has number of streetside second hand book shops or displays that give opportunity to come across rare collections. Many of these roadside book shops can be prominently found, among many, near Flora Fountain, Maheshwari Udyyan (former King's Circle) and Dadar west market.
In a place without clearly displayed price tags (and sometimes even in places with), you will get charged about 3-4 times as much as a local if you seem like a tourist. Take a local with you if you're going to local markets to haggle. Haggling is much louder and ruder in India than elsewhere. Don't be afraid to haggle things down to 1/4 of the asking price. And most importantly remember that almost all stores that sell carpets, jewelry, handicrafts, etc. pay huge amounts of commission (25% up to even 50%!) to the cab drivers, hence avoid tourist taxis, cabs, etc. Another thing to remember is not to haggle just for the fun of it. The shopkeepers may take offence if you don't buy an item after they have agreed to your price. One of the places that you can trust is The World Trade Centre (in Cuffe Parade, near Hotel Taj President). Besides being the only World Trade Centre in Mumbai, this place has an amazing range of exquisite carpets, handicrafts, shawls, etc. with reputed government approved stores and state emporiums too. Ask for receipts everywhere, including bars, and check what you have been charged for. Don't ever accept a guide offer or escort of somebody from the street: You will certainly get conned. If some place (including cabs, eateries, stores, etc) claims it doesn't have change (this is highly unlikely), insist they get change from a neighbouring store.
In addition to the local grocery stores which can be found on most of the streets, there are new additions to the city in the form of new big and small supermarkets and hypermarkets where you can get all the food items you need. Some of them are Big Bazaar , Food Bazaar , Hypercity , DMart, Spinach Local, Apna Bazaar.
If you are looking for exotic fruits and vegetables then you can try looking in stores like Natures Basket .
The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. If you search hard enough, you will find cuisine from practically every part of the world represented in the city. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Mumbai, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food and Irani cafes. That is what is described here. For individual restaurants and other places to eat, go to the individual district pages.
Don't leave Mumbai without trying:
Street food stalls
Songs have been written about Mumbai's street food and you will find that the hype is justified. You will find them at every street corner, but they are concentrated in beaches and around railway stations.
Tip: cheap and tasty food stalls are concentrated around the city's colleges.
Street stall food in India is fantastic, and dirt cheap (you can fill yourself up for Rs 20). However, do consider well what you are putting in your mouth. Almost certainly the water used is non-potable, street vendors don't seem to understand much about hygiene or hand-washing, and food safety standards are low, with flies buzzing over everything. Even locals steer clear of street food during the monsoons, when diseases run rampant. If the stall seems very clean, and if it clearly states that it is using Aquaguard or mineral water, go for it.
Authentic Marathi cuisine
Mumbai, being home to large ethnic Marathi community, has its share of notable restaurants that offer authentic Marathi cuisine. Most offer both snacks and regular dining. Some of the snacks to check out are Sabudana Wada, Batata Wada, Missal, Kanda Poha, Uppit (or Upma), Shira, Alu Wadi, Thalipith, Zunka Bhakari,ghavane (neer dosa) and many more. Two notable appetizer are Kokam Sarbat and Solkadhi which are best enjoyed during hot summers. People say that many of these authentic Marathi restaurents are finding it difficult to survive competitions with other modern or fast food typed restaurants, but you will find Gajali, Malvan Kinara, Sindhudurg and many more have retained their own charm and clientele.
Mangalorians(and udupi) forms the highset tourist populations of Mumbai,and both the cities have almost same culture and architecture. "Udupi" restaurants (or "hotels") are everywhere. They bear the name of the town of Udupi in Karnataka, but do not be misled into thinking that they specialize in the cuisine of Udupi. They serve pretty much everything, and that is their specialty.
Usually strictly vegetarian, these restaurants were opened by migrants from the district of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka (of which Udupi is a part), to satisfy the palates of other migrants from the district. Over time, they gained popularity as places to have South Indian food. As the tastes of their customers evolved, so to did their menus, so much that now you can find Mughlai, Indian Chinese, Bhelpuri, and other chaats in addition to South Indian stuff. Amazingly, some places serve imitations of pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches too!
They are fast food joints and sit-down restaurants combined. The reason to visit them is not to experience fine gourmet dining, but to have cheap, passably tasty and fairly hygienic food. There is no easy way to identify an Udupi restaurant — they are not a chain of restaurants and they may not have "Udupi" in their name, so you will have to ask.
Matunga(Central line) has the best south indian fare in Mumbai. There are few restaurants which could well be heritage sites as they are more than 50 years old and still retain thier old world charm(and furniture).
Irani cafe's are Persian styled cafes opened by 19th century Persian migrants from Iran. These cafes have a unique lazy atmosphere, display of day-to-day accessories including toothpastes behind the cashier, soaps and what nots(specially targetted at bachelor crowds) and furniture. Most of these cafes were located at the corner of the road or building and were chosen spots by commuters to spend time. It was quite an usual sight to find people spending hours reading newspaper over a cup of tea for hours in these places. Sadly the new restaurents and fast food culture has almost removed these cafes from the maps, though few notables like Kyani & Co. and " Light of Bharat" near shivaji park still remain. The joints are best known for their "Irani Chai", "Bun-Maska/Maska Pav" (bread and butter) and Egg Omlette. Also are popular their assorted snacks, like Kheema-na-Patice, samosas, mava-na-cakes, etc. One of the the best dish which is almost always on the menu is Kheema (prepared from ground meat) and pav (bread).
If you order a thali (translated as "plate"), you get a complete meal arranged on your plate, with a roti or chappati, rice, and many different varieties of curries and curd. Ordering a thali is a popular option when you are hungry and in a hurry as it is usually served blazingly fast. Most mid-level restaurants have a thali on the menu, at least during lunch hours. Occasionally, they are "unlimited", which means that some of the items are all-you-can-eat. The waiters serve them at your table.
Of course, you find many varieties of them, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There is the South Indian thali. The "North Indian" thali translates to Mughlai or Punjabi. Do try Gujarati or Rajasthani thalis if you can find them. They are sinfully filling and tasty. Rajdhani (At Crawford Market) serves up thalis in the Rajasthani style while Aram (near Mahim Church, Mahim), Ramanayak Udipi (At Matunga Station, east) serves up thalis in South Indian style and Shree Thakker Bhojanalaya (off Kalbadevi Road) do filling and fabulous Gujarati thalis.
Fast food chains
Surprisingly, there is no fast-food chain in Mumbai serving Indian cuisine. But Western chains like McDonalds , Subway, Pizza hut, Dominos,Kentucky Fried Chicken etc. have many outlets all over the city. But if you are a weary westerner looking for the taste of the familiar, be warned that all of them have rather heavily Indianized their menus, so you will find the stuff there as exotic as you found Bambaiyya food. However, Barista, Cafe Coffee Day, and Smokin' Joe's are all Indian chains, although they don't serve Indian food. While Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, as there names suggest, serve coffee and pastries, Smokin' Joe's serves decent pizzas and is headquartered in Carmichael Rd, Mumbai. International coffee chains like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Aromas have recently set shop in Mumbai.
Naturals is a chain of ice cream stores that serves up tasty and unconventional flavours of ice creams. Try their tender coconut or the coffee walnut ice creams. Its main branch is in Juhu in the Western suburbs (hence the tagline - 'Ice cream of Juhu Scheme'), but it has franchises at many places including Marine Drive, Bandra, Nepean sea road, etc. Naturals is also famous for its seasonal "Sitaphal" or Custard Apple Ice-cream. Baskins-Robbins is an international ice cream chain having its presence throughout the city. Also there are a number of shops in malls anongst other places which serve Italian Gelato icecream.
Try the sumptuous creamy crepes and omelets at Crepe Station, Bandra. Its owned by a famous Bollywood actor, Dino Morea.
What to eat
Asking a local for suggestions is a fun way to try new things. Here are a few suggestions:
Tip between 5-10% at sit-down places. If a place includes service charges on the bill, you don't need to leave an extra tip. Note the difference betwen service tax and service charges. Service tax goes to Government and not to the staff. While tipping is always good practice, at bars you don't necessarily have to tip the bartender. If you plan to be there a while though it's a good idea to give him Rs 50-100 on your first drink to ensure a night of trouble-free service. You do not have to tip cab or auto drivers at all, and don't get out of the vehicle until they have given you full and exact change.
Pubs & bars
A recent police crackdown (June 2012) on many popular bar and clubs is underway, so be cautious when visiting lower to mid range bars. Mumbai is one of the most liberal cities in India when it comes to attitudes to alcohol. Bars exist at virtually every street corner and many of them advertise themselves as "family" bars and restaurants, which indicates that they are primarily restaurants where one can also have a drink. Other places are primarily bars, some of them might be sleazy. In South Mumbai and in the Western suburbs, you are likely to find many places where foreigners hang out.
Mumbai is much more accepting of women drinking than the rest of India. A woman ordering a drink is unlikely to raise eyebrows even in mid-range bars, though if you are alone, you might need to look out for your safety.
Nightlife in Mumbai spans the gamut from performances at five star hotels to discos. Dance bars which involve young, fully clothed women dancing mostly to Hindi film and pop music, have been shut down by the government for corrupting the morals of those who frequent those places. While the state high court has ruled that the crackdown was illegal, it will be a while before they open again as there are some technicalities involved to be sorted out.
In Mumbai, alcohol is much more easily available than many cities in India.
There many coffee shops in and around Mumbai. Try the Cafe Coffee Day and Barista chains. These are the best around town and also serve some pretty neat coffee for cheap. There's the Cafe Mocha chain of coffee shops which also serve fruit flavoured hookas — South Asian smoking pipes. If a small coffee and cookies place is what you are looking for, try Theobroma, it has an outlet at Cusrow Baug in Colaba. And three Starbucks stores opened in Mumbai in late 2012. Those looking for a more native form of coffee can try the filter coffee, a milky coffee with origins from South India, from any Udupi restaurant.
It is very difficult to find good budget hotels in Mumbai. If you are a tourist or a business traveller, you may have to stay in South Mumbai, which is where both the business district and the touristy areas are. Lack of space means that even the cheapest hotel charges stratospheric tariffs. The state of public transport and traffic means that it is not really a good choice to stay anywhere else. In any case, things aren't much better if you are looking for hotels close to the airport. You should be looking at the Western Suburbs in that case. There are many guest houses at Colaba, where you find most of budget foreign travellers stay. Other budget hotels are found near railway stations, such as Dadar or Santa cruz, but most of them are absolute dumps. One safe and economical place to stay in Mumbai is the YMCA. Reasonably priced accommodations are available at the Colaba, Bombay Central, Andheri, and CBD Belapur Branches.
One inexpensive alternative is to live with a local family as a paying guest. A list of available families can be obtained from the Government of India tourist office (+91 22 2220 7433) opposite Churchgate train station.
On the other hand, if money is of no problem, you can stay at the Taj in Colaba (the oldest in India), the Leela Kempinski, the ITC Grand Maratha, or the JW Marriott Mumbai, Renaissance Mumbai Hotel & Convention Centre. Hotel listings are in the district pages.
There is already a lively late night, if somewhat subterranean, scene for gays, as well as social and political networks. However, you need to do your homework before arriving, as LGBT gathering spaces and organizations are not published or available at local newsstands. However, Bombay Dost (Bombay Friends) the only magazine catering to the community, after 7 years of running was closed and relaunched in 2009. Much of Mumbai's LGBT scene is coordinated using social networking sites and groups. Use extreme caution; robberies, hustlers, and even police entrapment are not unheard of, though a July 2009 judgment legalizing homosexuality should save you from the last one.
The area code for Mumbai is "22" (prefix "+91", if you are calling from outside India). Phone numbers are eight digits long, but on occasion you will find a seven digit number listed. That is probably an old listing. They made the changeover from seven to eight digits a few years back, when they allowed private service providers to offer telephone. Just prefix a "2" to the number and it should work just fine.
Phone booths can be found all over the city. Though they are coin operated, there is usually someone to run the place. (Typically the phones are attached to a roadside shop). You need to keep putting 1 rupee coins into the slot to extend the talk time, so keep a change of 1 rupee coins handy with you. The person running the booth will usually have them. If you find a booth marked STD/ISD, you can call internationally or anywhere within the country. Fees will be charged according to the time spent and a meter runs to keep track of your time. You pay when you have finished your call. Often it is difficult to find one that is open early in the morning or late at night.
Cell phone coverage in the city is excellent. There are many service providers offering a wide variety of plans. Among them are The MTNL , Vodafone , Loop Mobile , Airtel , Dolphin , Reliance , and Tata Indicom . It might be a good idea to buy a cell phone and use one of those prepaid plans to get yourself connected while you are in the city.
All mobile numbers, are 10 digits long and begin with a "9", "8" or "7". Do not dial the city prefix for mobile numbers. If you don't get through to a mobile number, try adding a "0" before you dial it.
Due to security threats, in order to purchase a SIM card you will need to provide formal identification.
Cybercafes are located at virtually on every street corner and the rates are quite low. Do note that they have probably not kept pace with advances in hardware or software, so if you find yourself in one of them, don't be surprised if you are stuck with a really small monitor, Windows 98, and Internet Explorer 5.0. Also data security could be an issue. As a caution, change your password after you use it at a cybercafe.
Finding wifi in Mumbai is very difficult due to security concerns. A few coffeeshops such as Barista may offer access. You should start your search with Chembur, Pamposh, Phoenix Mall, Santa Cruz, and Sterling Baristas. You can also find free wi-fi at the airport, provided by You Broadband.
Postal & courier services
The Indian Postal service's head office is housed at GPO, a magnificent colonial architecture on its own., next to C.S.T. railway station. The other main branch office can be found at Dadar(E) on Ambedkar Rd.
For a city of its size and global importance, Mumbai is quite safe. However, as with any foreign city, it is best to err on the side of safety and act according to your local environment. Here are a few basic safety tips:
200 fine throughout Mumbai as part of the Clean-Up Mumbai initiative by the BMC. In reality, the chances of getting caught are extremely low. The fines are given out by the BMC and the police never bother if people litter right in front them.
Violent crime in Mumbai is more or less like any other large Indian city. Most notably, terrorists have staged several murderous attacks in Mumbai, targeting banks and the stock exchange in 1993 (killing around 300), commuter trains in 2006 (killing over 200) and top hotels including the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi in 2008 (over 170 dead). The last of these saw foreigners, specifically Americans, Britons and Israelis, explicitly targeted for the first time.
Mumbai Police 
Fire Station, ☎ 101, +91 22 23076111/23086181/2306112/13
Coast Guard, ☎ +91 22 24376133, +91 22 24371932
Local newspapapers can be handy and reliable sources for day to day updates about the city. The city has number of newspapers and other publication that list local happenings. The Times of India  has a supplement called Bombay Times. There are also other papers like The Asian Age , DNA , Indian Express , Hindustan Times  and Free Press Journal . For the business updates, check Economic Times .
There are three very good local city tabloids called Mid-Day , Mumbai Mirror , and Afternoon. These papers are city focused and cover a lot of gossip, local news, and have plenty of entertainment listings. One could refer to these papers for any specific activity. In addition, Time Out now has an excellent Mumbai edition each month which can be picked up on street bookshops. It is a little more eclectic than the others listed here. Most newspapers would not cost more than Rs 3. All of these papers have information on arts, dance, eating out, food festivals, events, exhibitions, lectures, movies, theatre listings, concerts, seminars, and workshops.
There are also many local newspapers in regional languages such as Lok Satta  (marathi), Maharashtra Times  (marathi), Saamna  (marathi), Navakal  (marathi), Janmabhoomi (gujrati), Mumbai Samachar  (gujrati) and Navbharat Times  (hindi) which cater to local and regional interests and tastes.
There are twelve radio stations in Mumbai, with nine broadcasting on the FM band, and three All India Radio stations broadcasting on the AM band. Mumbai also has access to commercial radio providers such as Sirius and XM.
List of Major Hospitals and health care centers:
List of Major Diagnostic, health care and Polyclinics:
24 hour chemist
Apart for the ones listed above there are consulates of a number of nations which can be can be found in the yellow pages directory.
The suburban train service, mentioned above, does a good job of connecting the surrounding cities.
For trains to other Indian cities, the main reservation offices are at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, and Bandra on the Western line and CST and Dadar on Central line. There are special ticket windows and quotas for foreign tourists. For bookings and tariffs on train tickets to anywhere in India from Mumbai, visit Indian railway's website.To travel unlimited on the Mumbai you can use [TOURIST TICKET]Mumbai Local Tourist Ticket provided by the Indian Railways.
The Maharajas' Express is a luxury train that will take you to Delhi.
Another option is to to book bus tickets online from Redbus website which has tied up with a number of large private bus operators all over India.