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History of Mumbai and places worth visiting in Mumbai

The name 'Mumbai' officially became the name for 'Bombay' City by an act of the Indian Parliament in 1997. The Shiv Sena party, who won the elections in the State of Maharashtra in 1995 based on the slogan "Maharashtra for Maharashtrians", insisted on this change. The name 'Mumbai' is derived from and is in honour of the Hindu goddess 'Mumbadevi'.

The Portuguese who controlled this territory for some time in the 16th century named Bombay based on the Portuguese words "Bom Bahia," which means "a Good Bay" or it could be a combination of the Portuguese word ‘Bom’ which means ‘Good’ and the English word ‘Bay’.

Mumbai (Bombay) is the capital of Maharashtra State.  With a population of about 20 million and it is the second-most-populous city in the world. Mumbai is a major Sea Port on the west coast of India blessed with a deep natural harbour. Mumbai is made up of seven islands: Bombay Island, Parel, Mazagaon, Mahim, Colaba, Worli, and Colaba.

Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment Capital of India and is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India. The corporate headquarters of many big and famous Indian Companies like Tata Group, Larsen and Toubro, Godrej, Reliance, State Bank of India, LIC, etc. are in Mumbai. India's famous Film and Television industry, known as Bollywood, is in Mumbai. BollyWood is combination of the words Bombay and Hollywood. Bollywood is the largest producer of movies, not only in India but is the largest in the world, even bigger than Hollywood. The famous Mahalaxmi Horse Racing Course is in Mumbai.

Popular attractions in Mumbai city are the Gateway of India, the Taj Hotel, Marine Drive, and the Elephanta Caves, just a ferry ride away from the mainland.

During the English Colonial rule and before the days of flying, travel by sea was the way to come to India and the main port of entry into India was in Bombay, or now Mumbai. The English built a monument there called 'Gateway of India' to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, to attend the Darbar in Delhi in December 1911.

Best Hotels to stay in Mumbai

There are many hotels in Mumbai, but the best way to find a safe and comfortable hotel to stay in Mumbai is by going online to one of the reliable and reputed hotel reservation websites like Booking.com for example.

Best time to visit Mumbai

It is best to visit Mumbai during the winter months of November to February, when temperatures drop and humidity is at its lowest. The summer months are not ideal for visiting Mumbai because it is the time of the Monsoon, the rainy season in India and Mumbai streets could be flooded.

Places to Visit Around Mumbai

There are many fascinating places to visit around Mumbai and a Mumbai City tour in an air-conditioned luxury bus is the best. These buses go to all the tourist places around Mumbai and will pick you up from your hotel in the morning. This day tour in the air-conditioned luxury bus will take you to places in Mumbai to visit like the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum, Mahalaxmi temple, National Parks and Gardens, and Bollywood Film City, the heart of the Indian film industry which produces more films every year than Hollywood. Tour packages like this cost about Rs1000. These buses will in the course of a days tour will take you to the best tourist places in Mumbai.

Holiday Destinations near Mumbai

Popular holiday destinations near Mumbai are Agra, Delhi, Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan. Tours to all these spots and many more can be arranged from Mumbai. Flight tickets within India are now offered online, sometimes at very competitive prices, while trains are the cheaper option, especially with an IndRail pass. Prices for the tour packages vary according to a number of factors; accommodation, modes of transport, number of places covered as well as other add-ons, but your operator will help you figure out the best price. 

Where to Stay in Mumbai

Accommodation in Mumbai is varied and offers everything from tiny rooms to store your luggage and lay your head down at night, to opulent palaces converted to hotels, and contemporary luxury resorts. Around the International Airport, there are a range of five and four star hotels. Rates for rooms in the star hotels start from about US$ 150 and up. There is also a plethora of mid-level and lower-level hotels, and prices can go as low as US$15- a night. Hotels and accommodation are most expensive in Fort, Colaba, Churchgate, and Bandra, as these are some of the most posh areas. However, in all these suburbs too, there are cheaper options.

Getting Around in Mumbai

Mumbai has a vast network of public transport, and it is easy to find a train, bus, taxi or rickshaw to get you from Point A to Point B. The local trains are the fastest means of getting anywhere in a city that faces traffic jams around the clock. They are usually crowded, and you’ll have to keep tight hold of your belongings, but the journey is cheap and efficient. Buses are another low-cost option, but will take time lumbering through congested streets and can get uncomfortably hot and dusty. Taking a taxi or rickshaw are more expensive options, with the AC cabs or private taxis being the most expensive, but they are more comfortable and give you breathing space. Train and local bus tickets cost between Rs 4-10 onwards, auto-rickshaws and taxis are metered and are cheap when compared to other parts of the world.

Places in Mumbai to Visit

The most famous tourist attraction in Mumbai is the Gateway of India, built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary on their visit. Also recommended for a first-time visit to Mumbai are the Nehru Planetarium, Prince of Wales Museum, Haji Ali Mosque, the ISKCON temples. There are two UNESCO world heritage sites in or near Mumbai, the The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus - CST, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station and the Elephanta Caves about 10 Kilometers (6 miles) by boat. They are both worth a visit.

Mumbai’s Art Attractions

Art is a flourishing field in Mumbai, as one can see at the Jehangir Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art in South Bombay. The Prince of Wales Museum and the Bombay Natural History Museum offer a quiet place for an afternoon browse.  

Historical Tourist Spots in Mumbai

For a taste of history, check out the Bombay Heritage Walks in the city. For the last ten years, the group by the same name has been conducting walks around Fort, the city’s well-maintained historical area. Explore the Kalaghoda art district, the serene Jewish synagogues, and the famed University and High Court buildings and the Rajabai clock tower. Also interesting are the Banganga area, Flora Fountain, and the Mint.

Nightlife in Mumbai

Mumbai is a city of people who work hard during the day, and party hard during the night. Discotheques, clubs, lounges, restaurants, resto-bars, theme restaurants, and a whole lot more do very well, and offer entertainment to all ages and all budgets. Zenzi, China House (where the most beautiful people of Mumbai party), Poison or Bling, Prive, Busaba, and Shiro offer a chance to let your hair down and have a blast! For a place with more character than a discotheque, head to Colaba and do a pub-crawl between Café Mondegar, Café Leopold, Alps Restaurant and Beer Bar, Tavern or Bootleggers. Expect to pay a minimum of Rs 1000 for entry to some of the discotheques on Saturday night.

Eating Out in Mumbai

Food is an excuse for socializing in Bombay, and you’ll find various forms of snacks, meals, and titbits to nibble on everywhere. For quick meals and dynamo-efficient staff, go for breakfast to a South Indian restaurant. In town, visit Kailash Parbat, Kamat’s or Sahakari Bhandar in Colaba. Apart from the usual McDonalds, Pizza Hut, TGIF, Ruby Tuesday and others, Bombay has excellent Thai, Italian, Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurants. But for tourists, it’s usually the Indian food that is the attraction. Try Mughlai specialties like biriyanis and kebabs at Delhi Darbar in Colaba, gorge on fish and crabs cooked in coastal fashion with spices and coconut in Mahesh Lunch Home or Gajalee, and enjoy vegetarian meals at Cream Centre. Prices vary from Rs 300-Rs 1000 per head.

What to Buy in Mumbai

For truly unique items to shop for, take a look around at the local Indian souvenirs. Buy sandalwood carvings, silverware, rugs and linen, and Indian clothes, as well as a lot more. Pick up Indian aromatic spices if your country allows you to carry them back, or special teas and coffees. Darjeeling tea and coffee that tastes of the monsoon is always a good gift for someone back home, or for yourself. Silver jewelry, anklets, Indian silks and pashminas, ethnic mirror work bed covers or sofa throws and bedsheets in muted pastels or flaming reds and oranges are available in Colaba as well as FabIndia stores. Colaba Causeway is a veritable treasure trove for tourists on a budget, since you can find everything from the stores here, and at half or less than half the price. Leather sandals, embroidered and sequinned slippers, jewel-toned silks and funny little purses and pouches fascinate both local shoppers and tourists alike.

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