What To Do In Mumbai? Ideas For Mumbai, India Visitors by:Rajesh Tih
Mumbai may have changed its name - until recently it was better known as Bombay - but it has not changed its character
. It is still one of the worlds most populous and fascinating cities, well known for its teeming street-life, colorful bazaars and a distinctly British feel to it, with visible reminders of 19th century British colonial rule in India.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Mumbai is its legacy of British rule - many government buildings are elaborately deigned Victorian structures, and red double decker buses fill the streets. One of the most impressive buildings is the Victoria train station, which is worth visiting even if you don't need to catch a train. The Gothic building boasts carvings of monkeys, lions and peacocks as well as minarets, spires and stained glass windows. If you are in the city from October to April, you can indulge in that most English of pastimes - watching a game of cricket at Wankhede Stadium.
The center of the city and another reminder of British rule is the huge arch on the waterfront known as the 'Gateway to India'. The arch, which was built in the early 20th century, has become the unofficial symbol of the city as well as a popular gathering place for tourists, snake-charmers and souvenir-sellers. The nearby district of Colaba is one of the most fashionable of the city, and has many of the better restaurants and hotels, making it a popular area to stay in.
One of the most fashionable suburbs of Mumbai is Chowpatty Beach. The best time to visit is in the evening as hundreds of locals flock to the area to enjoy the street entertainers, roadside stalls and the areas specialty - a portion of bhelpuri, a sort of vegetable pancake. If you are in Mumbai in August and September, you can witness the unique festival in which images of elephant-headed gods are plunged into the sea.
Mumbai is the shopping capital of India. The area around Colaba has some of the better department stores, as well as smaller shops selling electronics and music soundtracks from local films. In the neighborhood north of the Fort area are several sprawling markets where you can buy everything from fruit and vegetables, to silks and cloth, to antiques and curios. The nearby meat market is an unforgettable experience - but perhaps not for the faint-hearted. Every morning at nearby Sassoon docks, you can watch local fisherwomen dressed in their colorful and traditional costumes unload and sell the day's catch.
Mumbai is the thriving center of India's film industry, giving the city the nickname of 'Bollywood'. There re no organized tours of the studios, but if you are in the right place at the right time, you can get a temporary position as a film extra. Scouts can often be found around the Gateway to India looking for would-be movie stars. A visit to one of Mumbai's more than 100 cinemas showing one of the local 'blockbusters' is a chaotic but unforgettable experience - the most difficult part may be sitting through the performance as most movies are at least 3 hours long. You can buy movie tickets from street vendors, which is technically illegal, but seems to be acceptable.
There are some easy excursions you can take from Mumbai that allow you to escape the city's hectic pace for a while and see the more spiritual and peaceful side of India. A popular trip is to the small island in the harbor known as Elephanta Island, home to a cave containing ancient panels sculptured from stone. The carvings depict the three-headed Indian god Shiva in various acts of creation and destruction and there is a small museum on the island to explain it all.
But one of the biggest attractions of the city is simply its frenetic pace and constant noise and activity. It isn't the place to come for a quiet time - but as an introduction to the fascinating and mysterious country of India, it makes a great destination.
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