Gateway of India - One of the most famous landmarks of Mumbai, this majestic stone arch signifying the successful reign of the British in India was instated to mark the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. It is located at the end of Shivaji Marg.
The arch is a blend of Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The archway is 26 metres high and is joined by four turrets. Intricate latticework marks the yellow basalt stone.
Today, this area is a must see for tourists. The place is abuzz with people just taking in the vast expanse of the ocean, feeding the pigeons or else waiting to hop on board one of the motor launches which takes visitors on a cruise along Mumbai's natural harbour. Boat cruises to the Elephanta caves also start from this place.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus - The starting point of the Central Railway, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus which was earlier known by its English name Victoria Terminus is a UNESCO world heritage site. Located in the heart of the city at Bori Bunder, the station is counted among the busiest in the world.
This lavish Gothic building gives the look and feel of a exquisitely done palace or a cathedral rather than a train station. The structure has intricate carvings of peacocks, gargoyles, monkeys, elephants, British Lions set amidst the buttresses, domes, turrets, spires and beautiful stained glass windows that adorn the building. On the top is a 13-ft tall statue of Progress.
Flora Fountain - Also known as the Hutatma Chowk or the Martyrs Square is a beautifully sculptured fountain. Named after the Roman Goddess of flowers, the fountain is located in a busy five-point intersection, in the predominantly commercial area of Fort. It is known as the Picadilly Circus of Mumbai. The statue of the goddess is seen in the centre of the fountain and it is flanked on either side by the torch-bearing patriot statues. The area today honours all the lives lost during the birth of Mahrasthra State.
Secretariat - This building dates back to 1874 and is a fine example of Gothic Architecture. The main features include the long verandas overlooking the maidan and a very tall central tower. This today is the area where all the civil and the city courts are located.
Mumbai University - This colonial building on Bhaurao Patil Marg was designed by Gilbert Scott. The remarkable features include the convocation hall with its exquisite circular stained glass window which is surrounded by the signs of the Zodiac. Also noteworthy is the university library with its elaborate spiral staircases and ornate galleries and an 80 metre high Rajabhai Clock Tower.
High Court - This immense fortress like structure on Bhaurao Patil Road was designed by Colonel JA Fuller. The basalt structure is 562 feet long 189 feet high. The structure is known for its central tower and octagonal turrets.
Fort - This area of Mumbai is full of Victorian style buildings and Gothic Architecture. This is the financial and commercial hub of Mumbai and houses the Bombay Stock Exchange on Dalal Street. Avoid the area during peak office hours.
Haji Ali- Located at the far end of a causeway which protrudes into the Arabian Sea is this pristine mosque in all white. The story goes that Haji Ali, a successful businessman renounced all worldly pleasures after a trip to Mecca . The place where he sat and meditated was converted into a mosque. The mosque also has his tomb. The mosque can only be visited during low tide. During the high tide, the causeway gets submerged in water giving the impression of the entire structure floating in water. The best time to visit the mosque is on Thursday or Friday evenings.
Sidhivinayak Temple - Throngs of devotees can be seen lining the streets on auspicious days to seek the blessings of the Elephant God, Ganesha at this temple. Dedicated to the Hindu God, Ganesha who is worshiped at the start of any auspicious activity or to remove obstacles, the temple has an immense following. It is the second richest temple in the country. Inside the complex is a store called Prasadam, where one can buy offerings to the Lord. You can also enjoy a nice meal at this place.
Mahalaxmi Temple - One of the most revered Hindu religious shrine in Mumbai, the temple is located on the northern side of Malabar Hills on the seashore. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Maha Laxmi. The nine days of Navratri are considered to be a very auspicious time to visit the temple.
Isckon Temple - Also known as the Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir, this temple is located in Juhu. The calm, serene environment of this temple adds to the architectural splendor of this shrine. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the temple regularly holds spiritual discourses based on his teachings from the Bhagawat Gita or the Holy Book of the Hindus.
Mumbai Devi Temple - Dedicated to the stone goddess of the Kolis, the fisherfolk community of Mumbai, the temple is about 6 centuries old. The goddess has an orange face and her altar is always covered in Marigolds. Although not as impressive architecture wise as some of the other temples in the city, it is believed that the goddess fulfills all the wishes of her devotees.
Walkeshwar Temple - Dedicated to the Lord of Sand, the original temple dates back to the Silhara Dynasty, some 1050 years ago. Lord Rama is said to have rested at this site and had built a lingam of sand. The Portuguese destroyed the original structure but the lingam escaped their attack. The present structure dates back to the 1950's.
The famous Banganga Water Tank is attached to this temple. The water in the tank is believed to have originated from the Ganges. As the story goes, Lord Rama is believed to have set foot on this land during his quest in search of Sita. During this journey, Lord Rama asks his brother Lakshman to get him some water, who in turn shot an arrow into the ground and water from the Holy River Ganga gushed out at this spot.
People gather on all festive occasions to take a holy dip in this tank. The site is also popular for the Banganga Music Festival which happens every year.
Parks and Gardens
Hanging Gardens - Also known as the Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, these were built in 1880 and renovated in 1921. They get their name owing to their location, on the slope of a hill. The terrace garden looks south from Malabar Hills towards Colaba and offers a breathtaking view of the city. The gardens are a great place to hangout and to catch a glimpse of the beautiful sunset over the Arabian Sea.
Kamala Nehru Park - Adjacent to the Hanging Gardens, the park offers spectacular views of the Queens Necklace at Marine Drive.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park - Mumbai is the only city to have a national park within its limits. This large protected forest area is located on the Northern outskirts of the city. One can spot wild animals like leopards, tigers, deers all being raised in captivity.
The area is also famous for its 109 Kanheri Caves. These were used as Buddhist Monasteries or Viharas and Chaityas or Temples between the 2 nd and the 9 th century. The most famous of the cave is the Great Chaitya Cave, which has a row of tall columns and a pagoda measuring 15 ft high at the back of the cave.
Priyadarshini Park - Walk with the rich and the famous of Mumbai at this park located on the busy Nepean Sea Road. Yoga Classes and Laughter Clubs are organised at this park.
St. Thomas Cathedral - The oldest building in Mumbai dating back to the time of the British, this church was built in 1718. In 2004, it was awarded the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Award. The roomy, airy interiors is full of colonial memorials and ornately done gravestones.
Basilica of Mount Mary - This church from the Portuguese Era was built in 1640. Located in Bandra, the site is popular for the Bandra Fair held on 8 th September every year. Reminiscent of a small carnival, numerous stalls are set up and candles resembling the various body parts of the Virgin Mother are sold. The sick and the needy light these candles in the hope that Mother Mary would listen to their prayers.
Afghan Church - This church in Navy Nagar in Colaba is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Sindh Campaign in 1838 and the Afghan War in 1843. Built in 1847 it is also known as the Church of St. John, the Evangelist. Memorial Plaques on the walls honour the lives lost in these wars.
Museums and Memorials
Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum - This popular tourist place is also known as the Prince of Wales Museum. It is said to have been inspired by the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur. A mix of Islamic and Gothic style of architecture, the museum has an impressive galleried central hall with a huge dome in the centre. It is divided into three sections Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The museum houses artifacts dating back to the Harappan period. The museum has a huge collection of some 2000 miniature paintings from India.
The museum is open Tuesday- Sundays from 10:15 AM - 6 PM.
Mani Bhavan - This building which Mahatma Gandhi used to stay in during his visits to the city has been converted into a small museum. The place offers a unique insight into the life of the father of the nation. It houses an impressive photographic record of his life. There are numerous original documents penned by Mahatma Gandhi including the letter he wrote to Adolf Hitler and to US President Roosevelt.
The place is open for visitors from 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM.
National Gallery of Modern Art - This gallery in the beautiful Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall is known to showcase the work of some of India's finest artists. There is a permanent exhibit space as well whereas the rest of the space is used by artists putting up their shows.
The museum is open from 11 AM - 6 PM excluding Mondays.
Jehangir Art Gallery - Located opposite to the Prince of Wales Museum, the Jehangir Art Gallery is the city's premiere art gallery. It hosts shows exhibitions of many famous Indian Artists as well as new and upcoming artists from the country. This place is abuzz with activity during the Kala Ghoda Festival when a lot of artists display their work.
The gallery is open from 11 AM - 6 PM.
Nehru Centre and Planetarium - This circular dome shaped structure houses an art gallery, planetarium, library, restaurant, cultural centre and a 14- gallery exhibit called the Discovery of India.
This extremely popular exhibit uses audio-visual aid, cut outs, photographs, pictures of famous Indian monuments to narrate the story of India. The planetarium is a must visit for amateur astronomers or anybody interested in learning more about the cosmos. The shows are held in three different languages.
The place is open from 10:30 AM - 5 PM.
Chowpatty - This white sandy beach is a popular place to catch a whiff of sea breeze in Mumbai. Row of stalls, shanties sell a kitsch of famous snacks. Catch a bite of mouth-watering Bhel Puri, Paani Puri at the beach.
Chowpatty has its place etched in history. This was the site of many rallies during the Quit India Movement.
The beach adorns a totally festive look during the Ganesh Chathurthi festivities. Thousands of devotees descend on Chowpatty to immerse the Lord in the sea after ten days of celebrations.
Juhu - A great place to get away from the traffic, congestion, commuter chaos. Enjoy a calm, relaxed evening taking in the sights of the white frothy water. Experience the ice golas (lollypops) and chaats that are famous at Juhu. A nice way to enjoy the sight of the waves is from the coffee shops of the Sun 'n' Sand, Holiday Inn and other hotels that line the area.
Marine Drive - The stretch of road which runs along the Arabian Sea starting at Nariman Point crossing Chowpatty Beach and finally ending at the Malabar Hills is popularly known as Marine Drive. It was built from land originally reclaimed from the Back Bay in 1920. It is one of Mumbai's most famous promenades and a beautiful place to watch the sun set. The stretch is also known the Queen's Necklace which refers to its resemblance to necklace studded with jewels when the whole stretch is lit up at night.
Amusement Parks- A host of theme parks are located in Mumbai, enough to keep the little ones in your family entertained. Essel World is one of them, located near Gorai Beach, this amusement park offers over 40 roller coaster rides, games and other attractions. Within the same park limits is Water World, a splash and a spray, all the rides at this park are centered around water. Fantasy Land is yet another theme park. All these parks are built on international pattern and offer complete family fun. There are special deals on weekends and off season discounts available as well. The entry ticket normally takes care of a fixed number of rides inside the amusement park.
Sassoon Dock - This vibrant, colourful waterfront is a hub of activity in the morning time when the fishermen unload their catch. The docks were built by David Sassoon.