Mumbai city guide

Indian comedians are my guilty pleasure. Not only they’re funny as hell, but they managed to achieve the impossible. Everyone jokes about their accent, right? I am sure you are familiar with the memes about Indian customer support employees. They turned those jokes into their greatest strength and that’s very admirable. That chaotic, happy-go-lucky attitude is apparent all over Mumbai. My generation resonates with Bombay more, but they changed the name to Mumbai in 1995. Bombay Hollywood? Bollywood? Rings a bell, right? Bollywood cinema appeals to worldwide audiences: from Latin America to Africa and from the Middle East to the Far East. My *cough* friend likes to download movies from torrent trackers. The sites crash every time a Bollywood production is leaked out by pirates. Indian movies always top the “most downloaded” charts. Yeah, I know it’s a weird way of judging the size of a country’s population. Actors who star in these productions have god status in Mumbai. Fans almost live outside of their mansions, waiting for their idols to come out and greet them. It’s a ridiculous, almost worship-like devotion.

King Shivaji museum in Mumbai with in front a statue of the Prince of Wales (Emperor George Vth)

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (abbreviated CSMVS museum) and better known under its former name Prince of Wales Museum of Western India is the main and largest museum in Mumbai, its huge collection is divided in art, archaeological and natural history sections and the countless halls house art of Nepal and Tibet, European paintings, Mughal weapons, historical artifacts and much more

Slumdog Millionaire, the smash hit from 2008, introduced Mumbai to a wider audience. It’s an amazing story of a kid with no formal education winning the show. No one believed he knew the answers based on his past experiences. The movie masterfully pictured the relation between the rich and the poor. You think you’re in a slum and the next thing you see is a Bentley dealership. It’s so mixed up that it blows my mind. There are street food stands with all sorts of people lined up. Suited up yuppies, homeless people and kids. Everyone is in a queue for delicious rice flake breakfast pudding with a cup of cardamom coffee. Mumbai’s population is not only varied and colourful but also ridiculously big. You would not believe how dense it is. Think twice the population of London in half of the area. That’s Mumbai. I bet you’ve seen the infamous Indian trains and people riding on top of them. That’s real stuff; safety precautions are for pussies. Try crossing any street during rush hour if you’re looking for an adrenalin rush.

There’s another way if risking your life is not very appealing to you. Check out the Gateway of India; their very own victory arch. The Brits built it to celebrate their Queens’ first-ever visit to India. They didn’t make it in time. A cardboard dummy greeted the monarch in place of the basalt arch. How do you even make a full-size victory arch out of cardboard…? Anyway, it’s a popular spot among young Indians. There’s also a dock, from which you can book a ferry ride to the Elephanta Island. It’s Mumbai’s major religious landmark and World Heritage Site. Some even call it a city, but it's a series of temples sculpted into a cave system. Academic sources estimate that the system was completely around 550 CE, but there are signs of even older human presence. They worshipped Shiva here, one of the main deities of Hinduism. It’s a real shame that most of those beautiful sculptures are damaged. Chipped off faces, lacking an arm or two, but you see the effort they put into hammering all that into basalt.

View of Gateway of India from the water with at the backdrop the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel

The Gateway of India was built in honor of the arrival of King George V and his spouse Queen-Empress Mary in Mumbai in 1911, which was the first British monarch visit to India, from the waterfront where you have a beautiful view over the Arabian Sea you can book a boat trip, the Triumphal arch is Mumbai's main tourist landmark and often referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is also a popular tourist magnet in Mumbai. Not only because it’s a train station, but because it’s one of the most beautiful ones in the world. It’s not what you’re expecting; it looks more like a royal palace. This imposing architectural wonder was built in 1887 and named *drumrolls* Victoria Station. I bet people got knighted, received titles for calling stuff Victoria. Must have been an age of proper brownnosing. You’ll notice the massive number of people that travel by train daily. I bet you’ve seen those clips of Tokyo metro: the ones with the station staff struggling to push everyone inside? That’s easy mode compared to Mumbai. Tourists are often advised on taking one of the first-class wagons. Those aren’t near as crowded as the regular ones. VT looks especially impressive after dark; it lights up like the iconic Disney Castle. Entire Mumbai does, it's almost a different city at night. Take a cab to the Juhu beach, sit back and witness Bombay from a new perspective. The view of lit up skyscrapers reflecting in the water is unforgettable.

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