Originally known as Bombay, the city was once the naval centre of British India. Today, it is a principal port and the commercial and financial centre of India.
Mumbai is India’s economic powerhouse – shiny skyscrapers stand alongside magnificent monuments of the British Raj, and bustling streets and vibrant bazaars throng with over 12 million people.
Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city reflected in its ethnically diverse population. It is also home to India’s glamorous film industry known as Bollywood, and a swathe of museums and attractions.
Top things to see and do
- Step back to India’s past with visits to Mumbai’s beautiful, intricate colonial buildings. As well as the iconic Gateway to India, see the Victoria Terminus railway station, Bombay High Court and the Prince of Wales Museum – reminiscent of the Taj Mahal.
- Catch a glimpse of Bollywood stars in and around Mumbai Film City. There are plenty of tours available to see the sets, locations, stars’ homes and even the chance to be an extra in a Bollywood movie.
- Consider a trip to see the world’s largest outdoor laundry - the fascinating Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat is where Mumbai’s dhobis (traditional washerfolk) beat the city’s washing clean in thousands of concrete troughs. You can take a tour - it’s a great photo opportunity.
- Amble around Mumbai’s best museums, art galleries and pavement exhibitions, all in one cultural space – the Kala Ghoda Art Precinct. If you are here in February, catch the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
- Mumbai is the city of a million street food sellers, so make sure you taste some of their specialities. Pav bhaji (spicy vegetable curry in a bun) seekh kebabs (grilled meat on skewers) and pani puri (crispy puffed flat bread filled with chutneys, spices, potato, onion and chickpeas) are the classics to look out for.
- A visit to Mumbai would not be complete without a shopping trip to Chor Bazaar, a flea market where you are expected to bargain for everything, from fresh rose petals to brass diving helmets.
- At the end of a packed day’s sightseeing, you can pick up a drink or snack from one of the street vendors and join the Mumbaikars to watch the sun sink into the Arabian Sea from the sandy beaches of Juhu, Marine Drive and Chowpatty.
Tips for travellers
Explore India’s earliest cave temples – about 25km north of Mumbai are the Kanheri Buddhist Caves in the lush, green Sanjay Gandhi National Park. These hand-hewn, intricately-sculpted volcanic rock temples are a peaceful antidote to the bustle of Mumbai city.
You’ll find more sculpted Buddhist caves on Elephanta Island – an hour by ferry from Mumbai’s Gateway to India.