It’s hard to imagine that just 350 years ago the city of Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra was an insignificant part of seven small islands in the Arabian Sea.
Bequeathed by the Portuguese to Charles I of England as a marriage gift, these islands were soon coveted by the East India Company which became a very powerful influence in China and the Indian subcontinent. Delhi may now be the country’s capital but as far as the British were concerned, Bombay was India’s ‘First City’.
Massive development led to the reclamation of land from the sea, and gradually Bombay, or Mumbai as it is now known, came into being. And the city has never looked back. Currently the dynamic commercial capital of India, this modern metropolis of shimmering lights, towering skyscrapers and cosmopolitan culture is home to more millionaires than Manhattan and, with India’s economic boom still in its ascendency, this figure is destined to rise.
Yet despite the ceaseless march of globalization, Mumbai still retains an essence of romance that defines the subcontinent; the inspiration for authors, artists, musicians, travelers and kings for millennia. Here lies the “One land that all men desire to see”, as Mark Twain wrote more than 100 years ago, a comment that still holds true today.
In Mumbai, the religious, historic, and the cultural merge into one. It is a destination where the ancient Shaivite shrines of Elephanta and the haunting Parsi Towers of Silence sit alongside such colonial marvels as the Gateway of India and the astonishing Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Here is our guide to all the best this vibrant metropolis has to offer.