Mumbai is bustling and busy, a colorful — and often chaotic — kaleidoscope of interesting sights, sounds and scents. Formerly known as Bombay, this densely populated city is home to more than 20 million people and is the financial capital of India. It’s also the center of India’s Bollywood film industry.
Mumbai, which is a major port on the Arabian Sea, originally consisted of seven separate islands. But during the mid-18th century, an ambitious reclamation project united those islands into one land mass on which this mesmerizing city took root and then thrived.
Today, Mumbai is a city of contrasts and one of the exciting ports visited by Celebrity Cruise Line. Like many big cities, it does have slums — such as the one made famous in the movie Slumdog Millionaire.
But Mumbai is also home to the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in India and is also the wealthiest city in the country. Above all else, though, this is a city that is so unique and mesmerizing that it is sure to become indelibly stamped on your memory forever.
Mumbai is fascinating, but negotiating this huge city with its frenetic traffic can be challenging. That is one reason why it’s highly recommended that you take a guided city tour. Not only will a guide be able to show you the best ways to get around Mumbai’s streets, but he or she can also teach you more about this city’s fascinating past and its landmarks than you could possibly learn on your own.
The following are some of the attractions that are typically included in a tour of Mumbai:
Gateway of India
This is one of Mumbai’s most iconic structures. The Gateway of India was built in 1911 to welcome the King and Queen of England. Today, this structure, which overlooks Mumbai Harbour, is a popular gathering and meeting spot for locals, which makes it a great place to do a little people watching.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station
Formerly known as Victoria Terminus, this station is an UNESCO World Heritage site and is truly a fascinating structure to look at. It boasts a unique blending of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Indian features. Construction first began on this building in 1878 and was completed 10 years later, making it the first terminus station built in India.
Fans of the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire may recognize Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station as the location where the film’s most recognizable song, Jai Ho, was filmed.
Every day, laundry workers pound, wring, beat and thrash countless pieces of dirty clothes at Dhobi Ghat — the world’s largest open air laundry — until they are clean. Because it affords the opportunity to take some very colorful and interesting photographs, Dhobi Ghat is a popular stop on many tour itineraries, including Celebrity Cruise’s “Wake Up With the City of Mumbai” excursion.
At this train station, large number of dabbawalas can be seen performing their duties. So what’s a dabbawala? Well in India, workers have traditionally preferred to eat home-cooked meals. And it is the work of the dabbawalas to pick up a hot lunch from a worker’s home and then deliver it to their workplace.
After lunch is over, the dabbawalas then return the empty box back to the worker’s homes. Dabbawalas use several methods to carry these meals including perched atop long boards balanced on their heads and loaded on bicycles.
If you’ve ever been fascinated by the colorful costumes and beautifully choreographed dances in a Bollywood film, chances are you would also enjoy a tour of Film City. Built by the Maharashtra state government in 1977, Film City is a large complex that sits on approximately 350 acres and is where most Bollywood films are shot.
Several vendors offer guided tours of Film City. These tours can vary greatly, depending on how much money you want to spend. For example, a basic tour would typically consist of a bus tour of Film City while a more expensive excursion might include a visit to the live taping of a television show.
Do you love visiting microbreweries? Are you a craft beer connoisseur? Then you’ll want to check out one of Mumbai’s craft breweries, such as White Owl Brewery. This charming venue brews its own beers on site and boasts a cool ambiance. Plus, enjoying a pint or two in a pub is always one of the best ways to rub elbows with the locals.