They say, if a person comes to Mumbai and stays for a while, the city grows on the person so much that you can take the person out of Mumbai but cannot take Mumbai out of the person.

It has surely worked on me. When I came to this city a few years ago, I was a complete stranger to it. I was homesick shortly after I arrived in the Mumbai. Today, I feel homesick when I am away from the city, even if for a few days.

Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is a major metropolitan city of India. It is the capital of the state, Maharashtra. The city is known as the business capital of India, and boasts of the largest and the busiest port handling India’s foreign trade. The third largest stock exchange in the world is situated in Mumbai, where every single day, billions of rupees are traded on stocks.

This distinction apart, the city has also had a rich and colorful past.

Originally a group of seven islands, that were part of Emperor Ashoka’s (273 BC-232 BC) large kingdom, Mumbai was ruled over a period of several centuries, by Hindu kings and then by Muslim rulers. Later, the Portuguese took over and named the province as Bom baia. Another century passed, after which, the islands were given away to the English King, Charles II, as dowry, on his marriage to the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza. Later, the British renamed the city from “Bom Baia” to “Bombay”. In 1997, the local parliament passed an act to change the city’s name to Mumbai.

They call it the city of dreams. A city to which every single day migrants from far-flung towns and villages come to realize and fulfill their dreams. From the footpath vendors to the dancing extras in celluloid Bollywood dramas, they all come here with stars in their eyes and a hunger in their bellies. And the city never fails to feed them.

There is a lot in this city to behold. The majestic Victoria Terminus building (now called CST) built in 1883 is a marvel to look at. The beaches of Chowpatty and Juhu offer plentiful seaside entertainment while the rocky seafaces of Worli and Bandra show the more unruly side of the sea where huge breakers come crashing down on the rocks. A night drive by Marine Drive is a must-do for it yields a spectacular view of what is popularly called the Queens Necklace (lights of buildings seen in the shape of an arc). Contemporary art galleries offer a dekko of some of the finest arts from all over the country and occasionally from the world as well.

The city is an amalgam of various cultures. There are abundant temples, mosques, gurudwaras and churches. The Haji Ali dargah at Mahalaxmi draws not only devout Muslims but pious Hindus as well. The church at Mount Mary, Bandra is loved by one and all.

Although the common mode of transport for the city’s residents is the local train, they are a bit overwhelming for tourists. Visitors might consider taxis and rickshaws, or even the public bus, popularly called BEST. Be sure to negotiate fares with the cabbies. In fact you must and bring it far down from the quoted price or else you’ll get taken for a ride, literally.

Eating out in Mumbai is an experience by itself. It is a gastronome’s delight. Eateries can range from very low budget roadside stalls offering delicious mouthwatering food to fine dining establishments, which can burn big holes in one’s wallet, but leave diners completely in raptures over the food and ambience. Or for those like me, visit the midrange establishments, which guarantee good food, decent ambience within a reasonable budget. Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai or local flavors like Malvani, Goan or Maharashtrian, they are all here for the tasting.

Some international tourists find the Indian palate far too spicy for their taste. For such people, the numerous pizza outlets and restaurants offering Westernized and mildly spiced cuisines are definitely boons.

As said earlier, Mumbai is a city that you once visit, you will fall in love with, forever.

Recommendations:

Eateries:

Little Italy :
18 B, Juhu Tara Road, Below Hotel Atlantic, Juhu, Mumbai 49.
Tel : 6106569

Yoko’s Sizzlers :
10/11, West View, S.V. Road, Near Akbarally’s, Santacruz(West), Mumbai 54.
Tel : 6492313, 6491528.

Oasis :
211 D, S.V.Road, Shopper’s Stop, Andheri (West), Mumbai 58.
Tel : 6205205, 6209471.

Green House :
Rao Apt, Nehru Road, Vile Parle (East), Mumbai 57.
Tel : 6102593, 6151104.

Chakra :
Sakinaka, Andheri-Kurla Road, Mumbai 72.
Tel : 8513331, 8515205, 8512463.

Photography used in conjunction with Creative Commons 2.0