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Things to Do in Mumbai

Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is India's eastern gateway and, with a metropolitan population of more than 20 million, an accurate introduction to the country's unique mix of madness and majesty. Both a booming financial center and the heart of the Bollywood film industry, Mumbai attracts ambitious professionals, hipsters, and hopefuls from around the world. But it is also home to some of India's largest and poorest slums. Many of Mumbai's tourist attractions are centered around Colaba, the rounded tip of the peninsula that juts out into the Arabian Sea. While parts of the city are walkable, a sightseeing tour by air-conditioned vehicle will help you avoid the extreme heat and air pollution. Historical highlights include the iconic Gateway of India, which overlooks the harbor; Victoria Terminus, the city's gothic architectural masterpiece; and the 14th-century Haji Ali Mosque. Take a private street food tour to sample spicy and savory snacks such as South Indian dosa and panipuri, as well as typical sweets like jalebi (deep-fried pastry covered in syrup) or rasgulla, a sweet-cheese dumpling. When you're ready to return to air-conditioned comfort, tea at the grand Taj Mahal Palace Hotel makes a perfect afternoon break. For a slightly longer urban escape, some of the best options are tours of the rock-carved monuments nearby: the UNESCO-listed Elephanta Caves are just across the harbor at Elephanta Island, while Kanheri Caves and the Bhaja and Karla Caves lie north, within the green respite of Sanjay Ghandi National Park.
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Gateway of India
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One of Mumbai's most recognizable attractions, the triple-arched Gateway of India was built during the early 20th century in honor of the 1911 visit of King George V. Built of basalt and concrete, this monument was designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, which blends traditional Indian, Victorian, and Mughal architectural elements.

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Elephanta Caves
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The Elephanta Caves are among the most beautiful, historically significant attractions in Mumbai. Situated on an island off the coast, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features multiple rock-hewn cave temples and statues dating back to around the 7th century AD, including a celebrated statue of Shiva in his three-faced form.

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Marine Drive
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Stretching along the Arabian Sea in the southern part of Mumbai, Marine Drive is a two-mile-long promenade and road with lovely sea views. The buildings flanking this stretch are also worth checking out; the only place on earth with more beach-facing art deco buildings than Marine Drive is Miami.

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Hanging Gardens (Ferozeshah Mehta)
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Also known as the Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, Mumbai's Hanging Gardens is a beautifully manicured park known for its extensive topiary, primarily carved into animal shapes. Due to the park’s location atop Malabar Hill, it's long been a popular spot to take in views of the Arabian Sea, particularly at sunset.

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)
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Formerly known as Victoria Terminus (and still called "VT" by many), this train statio, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is best known for its over-the-top Indo-Saracenic architecture, which blends neo-Gothic elements with Mughal and Indian features. It's Asia's busiest train station—one you may have seen in the film Slumdog Millionaire.

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Dhobi Ghat
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At the world’s largest outdoor laundry, every day for over 120 years the dirt has been washed from thousands of kilos of clothes by the dhobis (washermen and women) of Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat.

Formed back in 1890, the famous laundromat is much loved by photographers who come to take colorful images of row upon row of washing troughs where hundreds of families clean piles of laundry that come from all over the city. Strings of brightly-colored clothes drying under the Mumbai sun also make for a popular picture. More than just a laundry, Dhobi Ghat is also a great place to see old saris being brought back to life under expert hands.

Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat is owned by the city council, who charges rent and maintenance costs to the dhobis. If you love the smell of clean laundry and want to get right into the thick of things at Dhobi Ghat, an escort can show you around and introduce you to the workers for around 200 rupees per person.

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Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya
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Situated on a quiet, leafy street, the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya occupies an old home where Gandhi would stay during his frequent trips to Mumbai from 1917 to 1934. Today it's one of many Gandhi museums spread across India that serve to educate the public about the mahatma and his mission.

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Babulnath Temple (Babulnath Mandir)
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Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu trinity, Babulnath Temple (Babulnath Mandir) is a beautiful, intricately carved building made of limestone and marble, situated atop a small hill. The current temple dates to 1890, but people have been worshiping at the site for much longer, and a previous temple was built there in the 18th century.

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Haji Ali Dargah
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Dating back to the 15th century, this white-marble mosque and shrine (dargah) is among Mumbai's most important sights for Muslim pilgrims. It was built to honor a Muslim saint, Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who was known for spreading knowledge of Islam. Today worshipers and tourists come from across India to pray and learn about the mosque.

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Mumbadevi Temple
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Dating back to the 17th century, Mumbadevi Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city. The Hindu goddess Mumbadevi was the patron of the Koli people, Mumbai's original inhabitants, who relied primarily on fishing for their livelihood. Today the temple attracts pilgrims and tourists alike.

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More Things to Do in Mumbai

Mount Mary Church

Mount Mary Church

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Sitting on a hill overlooking the Arabian Sea, Mount Mary Church is one of the most important churches in the city. It attracts people of all faiths, particularly during the annual Bandra Fair, which is held every September. The church is a great place to escape the hectic city and take a little time for peace and quiet reflection.

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Crawford Market (Matahma Jyotiba Phule Market)

Crawford Market (Matahma Jyotiba Phule Market)

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Also known as Mahatma Jyobita Phule Market, Crawford Market, the largest market in Mumbai, is an incredible place to shop for food and household goods, take photos, or simply wander around people watching. It's also not a bad place to try local snacks, as there are myriad street-food stalls serving up all sorts of treats.

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Dharavi

Dharavi

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Made famous by the movieSlumdog Millionaire, the Mumbai slum of Dharavi is one of the largest informal settlements in the world. The 500-acre district, established in the center of the city in the 1880s during the British colonial era, is home to a tight-knit community of about a million, many of whom produce textiles, leather crafts, and handmade pottery for a thriving informal economy.

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Kanheri Caves

Kanheri Caves

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Deep in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Kanheri Caves comprise 109 basalt grottos that were carved between the first century BC and the 10th century AD. The caves served as Buddhist monastic dwellings for many centuries, and some of the newer ones feature intricate carvings, pillars, and even rock-cut cisterns.

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Mahalakshmi Temple

Mahalakshmi Temple

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Dating back to 1785, Mahalakshmi Temple is among Mumbai's most popular Hindu places of worship, attracting pilgrims from around the world. While it's at its busiest during the annual nine-day celebration Navratri, dedicated to the goddess, a visit any time of year will give you a good introduction to Hindu beliefs and prayer.

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Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court

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South Mumbai is full of beautiful Gothic-revival architecture, and the Bombay High Court is one of the city's best examples. Dating to the 1870s, the courthouse features two octagonal towers. Visitors are allowed inside and may even sit in on court cases, but most just come to view the architecture from the outside.

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Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple

Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple

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The towering white dome of this famous temple stretches high into the sky of bustling Mumbai. Travelers to this popular religious destination will find an idol of Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple carved from a single stone, in addition to a number of other gods and religious artworks.

Travelers and locals warn that long lines and major crowds are typical of this beautiful temple, but also say those in charge handle the large number tourists and worshipers like pros. Visitors looking for a peaceful, reflective experience should stop at the temple just before closing (around 8 pm) when a bit of quiet falls over Shree Siddhivinayak, and the city.

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Churchgate

Churchgate

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Churchgate is a pedestrian-friendly, seaside neighborhood in South Mumbai. It occupies a narrow patch of land that stretches from just north of Nariman Point to just south of the Marine Lines commuter railway station. It's best-known for its art deco and neo-Gothic architecture, and visitors enjoy its ample dining opportunities.

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) is one of the most prestigious and extensive art and history museums in India. While the exhibits are the main attraction here, its exteriors alone make it worth a visit, as it's housed in a domed Grade I Heritage–listed building in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style.

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Bombay Panjrapole

Bombay Panjrapole

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Tucked behind a bright-blue entryway in one of the busiest parts of south Mumbai, Bombay Panjrapole is one of the oldest animal welfare organizations in the city, one that dates back to the 1830s. Today this two-acre sanctuary houses hundreds of cows and other animals, including donkeys, dogs, goats, and all sorts of avian species.

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Banganga Tank (Banganga Talav)

Banganga Tank (Banganga Talav)

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In the heart of Mumbai’s most exclusive district, Banganga Tank (Banganga Talav) is one of the oldest and holiest sites in the city. First built in 1127 AD during the Silhara dynasty, this natural freshwater spring is surrounded by the stone-turreted temples and colorful shrines of Walkeshwar Temple Complex. As you sit on the pool’s surrounding steps, notice the wooden pole which appears like an arrow in the middle of the water. Said to point to the center of the earth, legend has it that, 5,000 years ago, while the Hindu god Ram was searching desperately for his kidnapped wife, Sita, he stopped at this spot and begged his brother Lakshmana for a little water. Lakshmana threw an arrow into the ground, and immediately an eruption of water burst forth.

Said to be a tributary of the Ganges, which flows 1,000 miles away, on a visit to Banganga Tank you may well see religious pilgrims bathing themselves in the spiritual healing waters. An especially good time to visit Banganga Tank is in January, when the annual two-day Banganga Festival celebrates classical music performed by Indian musicians from across the country.

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Bandra-Worli Sea Link (Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link)

Bandra-Worli Sea Link (Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link)

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Epic bridges are a hallmark of big cities. From the Golden Gate to the Brooklyn Bridge, these concrete and steel structures have become the icons of urban skylines. India’s expansive Bandra-Worli Sea Link(Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link), which connects the western suburbs of Mumbai to the well-heeled neighborhood of Bandra, is no exception.

This eight-lane bridge opened to the public in 2009 and cost some $250 million dollars to construct. But locals say that despite a steep price tag the bridge was worth the expense, since it’s finally possible to escape old road bottlenecks between north and south. Travelers love the epic views that await them as they ascend from the color and chaos of Mumbai into the calm, open road. Colorful lights and cool evening breezes make for an ideal evening drive, but visitors agree it’s still worth a trip any time of day.

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Karla Caves

Karla Caves

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A popular day trip from Mumbai, the Karla Caves is a series of Buddhist shrines that were carved from a hillside thousands of years ago, with many dating back to the first century BCE. Here you'll find beautifully preserved prayer halls and monasteries, many decorated with intricate sculptures of elephants, horses, and people.

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Chowpatty Beach

Chowpatty Beach

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One of the top spots to watch the sunset in Mumbai, Chowpatty Beach is a busy expanse of sand and sea that's fun to visit, day or night. People watching is one of the main draws here, because this beach attracts Mumbai residents from all walks of life, from multigenerational families to canoodling couples.

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