(Bombay) Commercial Capital of India
formerly known as Bombay is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra
and is the most populous Indian city. Mumbai is located on Salsette Island
off the west coast of India. The city, which has a deep natural harbor,
is also the largest port in western India, handling over half of India's
passenger traffic. The appellation Mumbai is an eponym, etymologically
derived from Mumba - the name of the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and Aai
- meaning mother in Marathi.
Ancient yet modern, fabulously rich yet achingly poor, Mumbai is India
in microcosm. Once a sultry tropical archipelago of seven islands, and
the Raj's brightest jewel, Mumbai was the dowry of Portuguese Princess
Infanta Catherine de Braganza who married Charles II of England in 1661.
Today it's a teeming metropolis, commercial hub of an old civilization
seeking to find its place in the New World Order. Forty percent of India's
taxes come from this city alone, and half of India's international trade
passes through its splendid natural harbour. In fact Mumbai is the very
soul of human enterprise. At the city's Stock Exchange, millionaires and
paupers are made overnight, and the sidewalks are crowded with vendors
hawking everything from ballpoint pens to second hand mixies. Everyday,
half of Mumbai's population commutes from far-flung suburbs to downtown
offices, banks, factories and mills for a living. Nearly thirteen million
people live here - wealthy industrialists, flashy film stars, internationally
acclaimed artists, workers, teachers and clerks - all existing cheek by
jowl in soaring skyscrapers and sprawling slums. They come from diverse
ethnic backgrounds and speak over a dozen tongues adding colour, flavour
and texture to the Great Mumbai Melting Pot.
Mumbai was originally made up of seven isles. Artefacts found near Kandivali
in northern Mumbai indicate that these islands had been inhabited since
the Stone Age. Documented evidence dates back to 250 BC when it was known
as Heptanesia or a cluster of seven islands. In the 3rd century BCE, they
were part of the Maurya empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka.
The Hindu rulers of the Silhara dynasty later governed the islands until
1343, when it was annexed by the kingdom of Gujarat. Some of the oldest
edifices of the archipelago-the Elephanta Caves and the Walkeshwar temple
complex date to this era. In 1534, the Portuguese appropriated the islands
from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. They were ceded to Charles II of England
in 1661 as dowry or, more appropriately, wedding gifts of Catherine de
Braganza. They in turn were leased to the British East India Company in
1668 for a sum of £10 per annum. The company found the deep harbour
at Bombay eminently apposite, and the population rose from 10,000 in 1661
to 60,000 by 1675. In 1687, the East India Company transferred their headquarters
from Surat to Bombay. From 1817 the city was reshaped, with large civil
engineering projects aimed at merging the islands into a single amalgamated
mass. This project, the Hornby Vellard, was completed by 1845 and resulted
in the area swelling to 438 km². Eight years later, in 1853, India's
first passenger railway line was established, connecting Bombay to Thana.
During the American Civil War, (1861-1865) the city became the world's
chief cotton market, resulting in a boom in the economy and subsequently
in the city's stature. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed
Bombay into one of the largest Arabian Sea ports. The city grew into a
major urban centre over the next thirty years, spurred by an improvement
in the infrastructure and the construction of many of the city's institutions.
The population of the city swelled to one million by 1906, making it the
second largest in India, after Calcutta. It later became a major base
for the Indian independence movement, with the Quit India Movement called
by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 being its most rubric event. After independence,
the city incorporated parts of the island of Salsette, expanding to its
present day limits in 1957. It became the capital of the new linguistic
state of Maharashtra in 1960. In the late 1970s Bombay witnessed a construction
boom, with a significant increase in population owing to the influx of
migrants. By 1986 it had overtaken Calcutta as the most populated Indian
city. The city's secular fabric was torn in 1992, after large-scale Hindu-Muslim
riots caused extensive losses to life and property. A few months later,
on March 12, simultaneous bombings of the city's establishments by the
underworld killed around three hundred. In 1995, the city was renamed
Mumbai after the right wing Shiv Sena party came into power in Maharashtra,
in keeping with their policy of renaming colonial institutions after historic
Beach, Crawford Market, Prince of Wales Museum, Gateway of India, Nehru
Planetarium, Flora Fountain, Nehru Centre, Elephanta Caves, Kanheri Caves,
Karla Caves, Mantheran, Lonavala and Khandala
Fairs And Festivals:-
Fairs and festivals are celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervor
to invoke divine blessings as well as for the sheer joy of living. A celebration
of life at its best.
Gudi Padava :
in March/April, is the start of the Maharashtrian New Year. It is marked
by the erection of gudis (bamboo sticks) decorated with colourful cloth
and topped with an upturned drinking vessel.
: Marks the beginning of the sun's movement northwards. Witness ruthless
kite duels at Chowpatty Beach.
: Elephanta, a small is land 10 kms. away from the Mumbai harbour,
is a favoured destination for culture lovers during the festival held
in February. The festival of Music and Dance is organised by the Maharashtra
Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). The main highlights of the festival
is the illuminated Maheshmurti (Shiva-idol), in the main cave of the island.
Folk dances by the local fisher folk, ethnic local food varieties add
to the ambiance. Over the years, the festival has become a major tourist
attraction for Mumbaites and for incoming domestic and foreign tourists.
It falls in August/September, is celebrated with particular enthusiasm
in Mumbai. Its climax is colourful and noisy and involves tens of thousands
of people converging on Chowpatty Beach to immerse the images of the elephant-god
Ganesh into the sea.
This is another festival that is celebrated with pomp and show in Mumbai.
The various famous churches of Mumbai are seen sparkling from Christmas
eve through New Year.
Indian Film Industry
is India's great social leveler: from the President right down to the
shoeshine boy, everyone loves a good film. In fact Mumbai boasts the largest
movie industry in the world. Wryly called Bollywood, it churns out nine
hundred films every year, mostly racy potboilers or mushy romances filled
with song, dance, violence and melodrama. Heroes drive around in flashy
cars, oomphy actresses cavort in itsy bitsy mini skirts and the poor boy
always succeeds against the rich villain. But India also has a serious
parallel cinema that has never quite wooed the box office. Made for the
country's cognoscenti, so-called "art films" regularly win awards
at Cannes and other international festivals, and their actors are universally
acclaimed. The average Hindi film is about three hours long at the end
of which you will probably feel like a wrung out rag, but the audience
never seems to mind. Indian film stars are demi - gods and the reigning
matinee idols often compete with the more divine variety for public attention!
What's more, in Bollywood, fiction and reality often get blurred; there
are real life stories of actors who once slept on the pavements outside
their palatial homes, proof that fairytale endings do not belong to cinema
is one of the many enjoyable things in Mumbai. Without any doubt, you
can spend hours exploring shops, bazaars, markets and stalls. Nowadays,
the big fancy international shopping malls are common sense in India as
well. The World Trade Center at Cuffe Parade and the shopping mall at
Nehru Center are two well-known shopping paradises and you can buy everything,
ranging from the latest fashion in Bombay, handicrafts, consumer or electronical
equipments, paintings, engineering innovations etc. Both of them also
serve as exhibition centres.
have more than a hundred ways of cooking meat; And nearly twice as many
ways of preparing a single vegetable. In fact the cuisine varies from
state to state, and sometimes even from district to district - a culinary
cornucopia that Indians themselves find confusing. It would probably take
a lifetime to sample all the delicacies on offer, but in Mumbai, you can
certainly explore the broad culinary categories. Although most five star
hotels boast several types of Indian cuisine on the menu, smaller restaurants
are well worth a visit and offer a more local ambiance. You can have rich
north Indian fare accompanied by chappatis (the flat unleavened bread
of India ), spicy southern curries with rice or steaming idlis, gujarati
thalis with their limitless range of vegetarian dishes, or even delicately
flavoured fresh water fish all the way from Bengal! The local coastal
cuisine is also very popular for its exotic seafood. In addition Mumbai
has the ubiquitous ice cream parlours, fast food joints including McDonald's,
take-away Chinese and pizzas, plus an interesting sidewalk menu. The most
popular roadside snacks are pao bhaji - a sort of vegetable stew eaten
with hot buttered bread and bhelpuri -- crisp fried semolina and rice
puffs served with an assortment of fiery chutneys. Watch out: like Mumbai
itself, this one can be a little difficult to stomach!
Compared to the rest of the country Mumbai's social calendar is always
full. Cinema, theatre, fashion shows and charity shows, wine and cheese
launches, eclectic art exhibitions and cultural dos are regular events.
Each of these is a window to a different social world - you will meet
artsy types and business cliques, society memsahibs and filmy folk, all
as different as chalk from cheese. Like New York, this is a city that
never sleeps. Even on weekdays, pubs are crawling with young people, late
night movies play to a full house and restaurants are usually booked solid.
So don't be surprised if you are caught in a traffic jam at midnight on
a Monday - this is aamchi Mumbai, folks.
How to Reach
By Air - Mumbai is an international
airport. Many international airlines operate flights to Mumbai from various
parts of the world. Indian Airlines and many private airlines connect
Mumbai with all major tourist centres in India.
By Rail - Mumbai
is the headquarters of the Central and Western Railways. Regualr trains
connect it with all major cities like Ahamedabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore,
Bhopal, Calcutta, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madras, Nagapur and Trivandrum.
By Road - Mumbai is connected
by good motor able roads with all major tourist centres.
Tourist Destination in India