"Bombay" Top 5 Page for this destination Mumbai by MM212

Mumbai Travel Guide: 2,023 reviews and 4,079 photos

Chaotic, cosmopolitan Bombay - now officially called Mumbai - is India's financial powerhouse, cultural centre and its most dynamic city. Rightly described as the Manhattan of India, Bombay is unlike the rest of the subcontinent. Its 14 million inhabitants, more than half of whom live in slums, are all crammed into a narrow peninsula that reaches out to the Arabian Sea. The peninsula was once seven different islands but were adjoined through land reclamation projects conducted over the past 200 years. The city's colourful mix of cultures, ethnicities, religions and languages has cultivated exemplary coexistence - despite certain spells of tension - among its different people, all of whom are driven and united by the hope of a better life while living side-by-side. Bombay's extreme contrasts of wealth and poverty, modernity and tradition leave the visitor with much to contemplate.

A bit of history...

By Indian standards, Bombay is a new city; barely 350 years old. Yet, it is unmistakably entrenched in old world traditions, while preserving magnificent Gothic, Indo-Saracenic and Art Déco architecture that rivals many older European cities. These traditions and the old architecture are well established in the shadows of countless new towers lifted by the boom and wealth of recent years. Our first historic account of the area comes from Ancient Greek records, specifically by Ptolemy, who named the seven islands of Bombay Heptanesia, meaning "Seven Isles". The Kolis, a tribe of fishermen - the islands' first inhabitants - worshipped the Hindu goddess Mumba-Devi, who is eternalised in the city's new name, Mumbai. But is it really a new name? Read the "local customs" tips on this page to challenge your views! What we do know is that the Portuguese occupied the area in the 16th century and used it as a stopping point along its important shipping routes from Goa to Oman and beyond. After a few iterations of the name, they eventually produced Bombaim, only to cede it to the British as part of the dowry when England's Charles II married Portugal's Catarina de Bragança. A Portuguese stronghold, however, remained further north in Bandra (formerly Bandora), a suburb in today's sprawling city, until they were driven out in the 18th century. The British anglicised Bombaim to Bombay and went on to build one of the most important cities in the Indian subcontinent. Today's city plan and architecture, though unique to itself, have an unmistakable British imprint, despite the current right-wing local government's excessive efforts of recent years to erase British-era names.

16-day India itinerary in Feb/Mar 2009:

Bombay - Elephanta Island; Aurangabad - Daulatabad - Ellora - Khuldabad - Ajanta; New Delhi; Jaipur - Amber - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra - Sikandra; New Delhi - Delhi

Second visit to India in Jan 2014:
New Delhi/Delhi (2 days) ; Bombay/Bandra (2 days)

  • Last visit to Mumbai: Jan 2014
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (68)

Comments (9)

  • georeiser's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    Good pages with many tips on what to do.

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    My God! Fantastic pages!!! You really research your subject matter! Excellent writing style. Bravo :) Darshan

  • omidamini's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2009 at 10:52 PM

    Thanks for made helpful with nice picture's page.

  • Aug 18, 2009 at 4:39 AM

    Great picture from Flora Fountain. A lot thinks to do!

  • PierreZA's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2009 at 12:54 AM

    I love this city and your impressions are fantastic to read. An abosolute fantastic page!!!!!

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2009 at 10:25 PM

    Isn't it amazing how the VT habit makes the experience systematic--Our visit oh so many years ago was a stumble around town for a day. Thanks for the update--powerful writing and photos momo

  • mallyak's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2009 at 12:46 AM

    10/10 for your BOMBAY pages!I am now convinced that Bombay 's architecture is on par if not better than that of cities in Europe , pity they don't maintain them!Oval maidan , Taj Mahal Hotel the entire Colaba region brings back great memories for me.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Mar 30, 2009 at 7:05 AM

    This is without a doubt the best page on BOMBAY (yes, I call it that) on VT. Excellent information and beautiful photos. I will return to read more soon. Thanks

  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2009 at 8:47 PM

    Hi MM - nice job on your Mumbai tips. You were very lucky that on most days you seemed to have had a nice blue sky that show up well in your photos! Take care, Donna


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