Mumbai

The Gateway of India is the most recognizable symbol of the city. It was built to commemorate the visit of the British Monarch King George V to India in 1911.

Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई) (state tourism office), a cosmopolitan metropolis, earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city in India and the capital of the state Maharashtra. Mumbai was originally a conglomeration of seven islands on the Konkan coastline which over time were joined to form the island city of Bombay. The island was in turn joined with the neighbouring island of Salsette to form Greater Bombay. The city has an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million (2005), making it one of the world's most populous cities.

Mumbai is undoubtedly the commercial capital of India and is one of the predominant port cities in the country. Mumbai's nature as the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian city is symbolized in the presence of Bollywood within the city, the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries. It is also home to India's largest slum population.

Districts

South Mumbai (Fort, Colaba, Malabar Hill, Nariman Point, Marine Lines, Tardeo)
The oldest areas of Mumbai. Contains Mumbai's downtown area and is considered the heart of this commercial capital of India. The richest neighborhoods in the country are located here, which command among the highest property rates in the world. Real estate prices in South Mumbai are comparable to those in Manhattan. This is the primary tourist area of Mumbai and home to most of Mumbai's museums, art galleries, bars, upscale restaurants, and the Gateway of India.
South Central Mumbai (Byculla, Parel, Worli, Prabhadevi, Dadar)
Used to be Mumbai's industrial heartland, but went into decline when the industries did. Now this area has been revamped into a white-collar office location. Home to Mumbai's only zoo, the Worli sea face, and the temple to what people consider the city's guardian deity. As you move north, it morphs into a nice middle-class locality.
North Central Mumbai (Dharavi, Matunga, Vadala, Sion, Mahim)
Primarily an upper middle-class area, except for Dharavi, which contains Asia's second largest slum. This area developed immediately after India's independence, because of a wave of immigration. Part of the migrants were refugees from the partition.
West Mumbai (Bandra, Khar, Santa Cruz, Juhu, Vile Parle, Andheri,Versova)
Contains Mumbai's other downtown and is home to those rich who want to have a more peaceful surrounding. It has few beaches. Home to a large Christian community and the city's most famous church. This is also where the city's domestic and international airports are.
East Mumbai (Central Suburbs) (Kurla, Vidyavihar, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Kanjur Marg, Bhandup, Mulund, Powai, Thane, Bhiwandi, Dombivli, Kalyan)
This is a solidly middle class bastion. Mulund and Ghatkopar are home to predominantly middle and upper middle class populace, many from the entrepreneurial Gujarati community. Thane was inhabited with people of the Agri and Koli communities, and their villages still exist today as "Chendani Koliwada", "Kopari Goan", and "Uthalsar". It also includes Majiwade, Balkum, Dhokali, Kolshet, Wadavli, and others. In 1825, when the British explored their newly annexed territories in Bassein, they discovered that Thane was inhabited primarily by Roman Catholics, who are both native and Portuguese, and that the latter was virtually indistinguishable[citation needed] from the former in skin color and custom. The local villagers, like Kolis (fishermen), are converted into indigenous Catholics mostly from villages of Chendani, Koliwada, and Majiwada. The Agri and Koli community people had their own culture.[citation needed] Some of the upper class East Indian families in the Khatri ward of Thane still speak Portuguese.
Harbour Suburbs (Chembur, Mankhurd, Govandi, Trombay)
Before the development of Navi Mumbai as a satellite town of Bombay, this area used to be known only for the existence of an atomic research centre. Now this is known for being on the way to Navi Mumbai.
North Mumbai (Manori, Jogeshwari, Borivali, Gorai, Dahisar)
This is where you go to find beaches that are not dirty. Other than this, it is just another victim of Bombay's vast urban sprawl. Contains the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Mumbai's oldest heritage sites: the Kanheri, Mahakali, Jogeshwari, and Mandapeshwar rock-cut temples dating from the 1st century B.C to the 5th century A.D. The Global Vipassana Pagoda is a notable monument in Gorai, Mumbai, India. The pagoda is to serve as a monument of peace and harmony. This monument was inaugurated by Pratibha Patil, the President of India on 8 February 2009. It is located in the north of Mumbai in an area called Gorai and is built on donated land on a peninsula between Gorai creek and the Arabian Sea. Essel world, India's largest amusement park is also located on the Gorai island, just besides the global vipassana pagoda.

Western and Central, East and West


A visitor to Mumbai's suburbs will quickly learn that the suburbs are divided into "Western" and "Central". You will also hear of a "West" side and an "East" side. Here is a quick explanation for the confused.

  • The Western and Central suburbs are named after the local railway lines that serve the respective areas. The Western and Central Railways are rail lines that serve the western and central parts of India. Both have their headquarters in Mumbai. The Harbour Line is a feeder line that connects the harbour areas to the Central and Western lines. It also provides connectivity to the Northeastern suburbs of Mumbai and onwards to Navi Mumbai. Most of these areas do not lie anywhere close to an harbour.
  • Almost all localities in Mumbai have a "West" side and an "East" side. "West" means west of the railway line and "East" means east of the railway line. For example, Mulund (West) means that the area is to the west of the Mulund railway station. In addresses, West and East are abbreviated, i.e. Mulund(W) and Mulund(E).

Mumbai is a city built in successive waves of migrations. The neighborhoods acquired their character from the communities that settled there first. These neighborhoods are too numerous to list and there is no commonly accepted way to group these neighborhoods into larger districts. But roughly, from the south to the north, this is how the city developed.

Understand

Carvings at the Elephanta Caves

Mumbai is a bustling, diverse metropolis with a flair of its own. The entrepreneurial spirit and pulsing pace of life provides a sharp contrast to much of the rest of India.

Name

There has been much debate regarding the original name of the city. Some say the current name of the city Mumbai is the original name; and is an eponym derived from "Mumba", the name of the local Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and "Aai", meaning "mother" in Marathi. Others claim Bombay was an anglicized version of Bom Bahia, a name given by the Portuguese to mean "Beautiful Bay" and later made popular by the British as the name of the Bombay state.

The name was officially changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995. Although Bombay and Mumbai are both used, people who explicitly use "Bombay" are generally non-Marathi speakers whereas "Mumbai" proponents primarily speak Marathi. In the West, Mumbai has become more commonly accepted in order to avoid controversy. It is also fondly called as आमची मुंबई ("our Mumbai").

History

Though the seven islands that now make up the city have a long recorded history like any other place in India, their journey to form the city of Mumbai really started in 1498, when the Portuguese took them over from the Sultan of Gujarat. They built a settlement, forts, and churches, (including the strange looking Portuguese Church that stands to this day.) They, however, could not make much of their possession and the seven islands were handed over to England in 1661 as part of the dowry of Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He wasn't very interested in the islands either, and he leased them to the British East India Company for £10 a year in 1668. The East India Company built the docks, the trading posts, and the fort that would form the nerve centre of the city. They also started off the long process of reclaiming land and joining the islands, an activity which went on until the 1960s.

The port attracted industries and the entrepreneurial communities like the Parsis, Gujaratis, and Marwaris (from Rajasthan) migrated and set up trading companies and factories in the late 19th century. Industries attracted migrant labor from different parts of the country. The successive waves of migration shaped the character of the city and its neighborhoods.

The city that owes its existence to the efforts of the British was also the birthplace of the Indian National Congress, which played an overwhelmingly important role in the independence movement. The city whose mills were built by industrialists from across the country is the capital of Maharashtra state, which was carved on linguistic lines for Marathi speakers.

In the 80s, high labour costs and unrest forced the closure of many textile mills and the city went into a decline from which it started recovering only in the late 90s. The high population put a strain on the infrastructure. The rail and road network has been undergoing a steady improvement over the 90s, but because of the magnitude of the task, the roads seem to be perennially under construction. Mumbai has now reinvented itself as a hub for the Service industry.

In January 1993, in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, a wave of riots swept the city, with over 1,000 people killed, the vast majority of whom were Muslims. Relations between the city's various ethnic groups have been tense ever since, with several terrorist outrages (see #Stay safe) adding fuel to the fire.

Culture and attitudes

Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India. In comparison with the rest of the country, the city is quite liberal. With a regular influx of immigrants from rest of India, the citizens, popularly known as 'Mumbaikers', have shown remarkable tolerance towards other cultures, making it a true cultural melting pot. However in recent times, this tolerance has sometimes bowed under external pressures. Between the 60s and 80s, there was resentment about the non-Marathi speakers taking away jobs. The 1991 and 1993 riots between Hindus and Muslims did affect this spirit; however, the city managed to recover from these, once again proudly highlighting true 'spirit of Mumbai'.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 31 31 33 33 33 32 30 29 30 33 33 32
Nightly lows (°C) 16 17 21 24 26 26 25 25 24 23 21 18
Precipitation (mm) 1 2 0 1 13 574 868 553 306 63 15 56

source Indian Meteorological Department

Mumbai has three main seasons — Summer, Monsoon, and Winter (milder summer). The best time to visit is during the winter between November and February. Humidity is also less during the winter, when the climate is pleasant; the minimum temperature is 17 degrees centigrade and the maximum is 30-31 degrees. Summer is from March to May with highs in the low to mid 30s (roughly 80-90°F). It is hot and humid during this time. June to September is the monsoon season when the city is lashed by heavy rains. The city gets flooded two or three times and normal life gets disrupted during this season. Climate is humid pretty much throughout the year because the city rests on the coast.

Get in

By plane

Mumbai has excellent connectivity with most of the major cities around the world, including, New York, London, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur to name a few. If you are flying from Europe it is generally cheaper to fly from London, and there are many frequent flights available. All domestic sectors are linked to Mumbai, making it busiest hub in the country (find the best airfare here ).

Airport

Newly opened swanky Domestic Terminal 1B

Mumbai's   Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA: BOM) is one India's busiest airports and one of the main international gateways to the country. Many international airlines such as British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa, Qantas & Singapore Airlines fly into Mumbai. Low-cost carriers such as Air Asia also fly to the city.

The airport consists mainly of two terminals (for Domestic & International purposes) - both terminals use the same airspace but are 4 km apart. There is a free shuttle bus connecting them but be prepared for long delays through security. Going from Domestic to International you are taken outside the airport and you will re-enter through International Departures.

As of October 2015, the transition of all domestic airlines to an integrated Terminal 2 is planned, with Air India already having moved.

The domestic terminals are undergoing a long overdue upgrade. Terminal 1B now meets international standards and work is going on at Terminal 1A.

To and from airport

Taxi stand at the airport

The airport is 28 km from downtown. Take a prepaid coupon taxi to minimize hassle. Never pay more than ₹450-₹600 for a prepaid taxi, as they will pounce on the unwary tourist. This amount should get you all the way to the southernmost point of Colaba, the main tourist district. While it is possible to take metered taxis to your eventual destination, it is always a safer bet to take the prepaid taxis, in order to avoid being taken to your destination via a longer route, thus increasing the meter reading! While it is not mandatory to pay extra charges for your luggage, a tip of ₹50-₹100 shall always be appreciated. Be extra careful with the main prepaid counter on the left as you leave the terminal. The ₹100 bill and the ₹500 bill were very similar at one point of time. Both the bills are still under circulation, and it is advised that you carefully check bill you are paying as well as the change you are receiving.

There are many prepaid taxi offices all in a row as you are exiting the airport, if one offers a very high rate, just walk to the next window and so forth until you find one with a good rate. Go to the taxi office and purchase a coupon to take to the driver. The coupon will have the taxi registration number written on it. Make sure that you get into that very taxi. Do not accept a lift from someone claiming to be a taxi driver as they may charge much higher prices designed to target tourists. The charges will depend on the general area you need to get to and will include all tolls to be paid. Most premium hotels will organize their own cars which is a much better alternative.

While most drivers should not have any problem delivering you to major hotels and intersections, do not assume your driver will be familiar with lesser known hotels etc.. Before departing, make sure you have secured full address of your destination. By taking this extra step, you should avoid any delays.

You can also take a bus/taxi/auto to Vile Parle Station and take a local train from there, although to catch an auto you might have to walk around 200m to the busier intersection of the road. Travel 1st class to avoid hassle. Do not try this during the morning rush. It's a good option in the evening, since it's off-peak direction then.

In any of the above cases, if you do not have a pre-booked vehicle (either by the pre-paid counter or an arrangement with the hotel), please use public transport only on the basis of the meter reading. If a driver insists on agreeing on a fare before boarding the vehicle, please insist on going with the meter.

Parking at airports

Paid parking is available at the airport. The charges are ₹60 per four hour block for cars. Longer term parking is available in a "premium" area but it is hideously expensive, costing as high as ₹600 per day.

ATM

There are ATM terminals in the international arrival area and many moneychangers near the exit as well. In order to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, you will need cash rupees. There are prepaid taxi dispatch desks nearby, but they accept only cash, and only rupees.

Tourist traps

A common scam locals play on tourists is when your taxi cab pulls up to the airport, a man will get your luggage out of the trunk, put it in a cart, push it for you towards the terminal and along the way will ask you for a ₹500 baggage fee. This is a lie, there is no baggage fee, and you should tell them no thank you and you kindly take the cart and push it yourself.

By boat

Numerous travel organizations now offer cruises to Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, etc. Though the cruise industry is still developing, Mumbai can be reached by such cruises. Ferries from Ferry Wharf allow cheap access to islands and beaches in the vicinity of the city and the Elephanta Caves.

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in India

Railways in India

The first commercial railway service began on 16th April 1853 at 3:35PM on its first run between VT (now the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane.

Trains arrive in Mumbai from all over India. The Central line serves connectivity to Southern India, Eastern India, and parts of North India. The key stations are   Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, CST [CSTM] (formerly Victoria Terminus, known just as VT),   Dadar Terminus [DR] (for Central Line) and [DDR] (for Western Line), and   Lokmanya Tilak Terminus [LTT] (formerly called Kurla Terminus).

The Western line connects to the Western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and some parts of North India. The main termini are   Mumbai Central [BCT] and   Bandra Terminus [BDTS].

The Konkan Railway (which is a separately administered and newly built line) travels through the picturesque Konkan coast of Maharastra and is a good way to travel from Goa and Mangalore, coastal resort areas to the South. The Dadar Terminus is the destination for the line.

For trains to other Indian cities, the main reservation offices are at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, and Bandra on the Western line and CST and Dadar on Central line. There are special ticket windows and quotas for foreign tourists. For bookings and tariffs on train tickets to anywhere in India from Mumbai, visit Indian railway's website. To travel unlimited on the Mumbai you can use [TOURIST TICKET]Mumbai Local Tourist Ticket provided by the Indian Railways.

The Maharajas' Express is a luxury train that will take you to Delhi.

By car

National highway numbers 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 17, and the Mumbai-Pune expressway radiate from the city providing links to all parts of the country. The road conditions are generally better than in the rest of India. The comfortable airconditioned blue cabs are available to Pune and Ahmednagar-Nashik from opposite Asiad Bus Termina in Dadar and Lakhamsi Nappoo Rd near Dadar east railway station respectively. Distances from various cities to Mumbai are:

By bus

Mumbai is well served by buses from destinations inside India.

Get around

Most of Mumbai's inhabitants rely on public transport to and from their workplace due to the lack of parking spaces, traffic bottlenecks, and generally poor road conditions, especially in the monsoon. However, do ride in a taxi and auto at least once in the city. If you are not used to Indian roads, an auto-rickshaw ride can be a heart-stopping, death-defying, laws-of-physics-bending. Feel real adventure in a vehicle that feels like it might fall apart at a speed over 30 km/h with a driver who thinks he's Schumacher.

Another option is to book bus tickets online from Redbus website which has tied up with a number of large private bus operators all over India.

By taxi

Black & Yellow Top Taxi

Taxis are cheap and plentiful ($15–18 should be enough to take you from one end of the city to the other). Most taxis in Mumbai are small-medium sized Fiat cars (non air-conditioned), painted black-and-yellow (black on lower body and yellow on roof). The legal maximum limit on the number of passengers in a taxi is 4, excluding the driver. You can hail a cab off the streets. However, many are quite rickety, dirty, and carry mechanical fare meters that could be tampered at times. However, by Feb 2013 all Taxis are instructed to shift to electronic meters which are somewhat tamper-proof. If you encounter a mechanical meter post that date, you can put up a complaint to the closest traffic police cop. Also, according to law, a black-and-yellow taxi driver cannot refuse a fare. If a driver does refuse, a threat to complain to the nearest cop usually does the trick.

Calculating Taxi Fare

Calculating taxi fares by reading a mechanical meter and converting it to fare using tariff card, may seem like a complicated system. However it's fairly simple. Just read the meter, calculate the fare by matching the meter reading with a tariff card to arrive at the final payable fare. The minimum fare is ₹16. Prepaid plans have the fare collected at the start and thus the meter reading is not applicable. For night charges (midnight to 5AM) mark up the fare by 25%. With large items of luggage add approximately ₹10 per piece. It is quite handy to have your own copy of the taxi meter card issued by the Mumbai Traffic Police. However, going by traffic laws, the tariff card is mandatory and should be made available by the taxi driver to the passengers on request. You can access it online at the Mumbai Traffic Police website. Complaints can also be lodged online using the same site.

One can pre-estimate Taxi and Auto fares using the Taxi Fare or auto fare website. You need to enter the "From" location name and "To" location name and the service will calculate the distance and fare, and also show you a Google map with the route.

If you have extra pieces of luggage, the boot (i.e. trunk) of the taxi will not provide sufficient space - one large suitcase is all that will fit there. Hiring a taxi with a top carrier will be better. Top carriers can accommodate up to three large suitcases. Before starting the journey, ensure that the luggage is securely fastened to the carrier.

Generally, the only way to call for the standard taxi is to hail one on the street. This will not be a problem if you are inside city limits (i.e. North Central Bombay and below). If you are in the suburbs, it will be difficult to find a taxi as they have been out-competed by the cheaper auto-rickshaws.

The maximum number of passengers allowed for a trip officially is four — three in the back seat and one in the front. Seat belts are not mandatory for taxi passengers and most standard black and yellow taxis will not even have them installed, though expect them in the branded ones.

Blue & White Top Taxi

The Blue and White (B/W) Taxis are premium public Taxis which are the air-conditioned version of the Black and Yellow (B/Y) Taxis. All the rules of the B/Y taxis apply to the B/W taxis too, except that the B/W taxis are air-conditioned. Moreover the fare of the B/W taxis is 20% higher than the B/Y taxis. This is the premium expected for the air-conditioned, which is really helpful for tourists and travelers who are not accustomed to the heat and pollution of Mumbai. Moreover, all the B/W taxis ply with electronic meters, unlike the B/Y taxis.

Since the fare of the B/W is at a premium, the common-folks usually do not prefer to travel by the B/W taxis, and is primarily used by tourists or business travelers. For the lack of demand, the lack of supply is also expected. The taxis ply frequently, but are not easily available on all locations. You can always expect them to be available at tourist hot-spots like Railway Stations, Airports, Premium Hotels, Top Tourist Spots, etc. If you are not travelling through either of the above locations, and you need the air-conditioned comfort, but do not want to go look for a taxi, it is suggested that you move to the next section.

Private taxis

If you want a comfortable, air-conditioned ride at a small surcharge of 25 percent over normal taxis it's best to travel by branded cab services that operate at government-approved tariffs. These services operate modern fleets with well trained drivers. You can get them at 30–60 minutes notice, they are clean, air-conditioned, equipped with digital, tamper-proof meters, punctual, honest, and GPS-equipped-monitored, which makes them far secure at any time. If you're using a mobile phone, you receive an SMS with the driver's name, mobile number and car number 30 minutes before scheduled departure. Charges are ₹22 for the first kilometre and ₹15 for subsequent kilometres, with a 25% night surcharge (midnight-5AM). Some can be booked online.

Follow the queue system to board a taxi. Quite frequently, tourists and new visitors are mobbed by unscrupulous taxi drivers. Most drivers are honest, but the dishonest ones tend to cluster around railway stations and airports where they can more easily find suckers. Unless you are taking a prepaid taxi, always ask taxis to go by the meter. At the start of the journey, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down fare/meter reading.

Stay safe

Travelling in Mumbai is generally safe at any time of the day or night. The risks primarily run if you are not aware of the fares and fare calculations (only applicable to non-electronic and non-prepaid meters). If you travel alone, especially in night, then always see the meter by yourself and then pay the fare. If you are alone, it is recommended that you sit in front so that you can see the meter. Please also note that the night charges are only applicable if you board the vehicle during the night hours (12AM to 5AM). If you had boarded the vehicle before midnight, and your journey is finishing after midnight, you are not liable to pay night charges. Similarly, if you board the vehicle before 5AM and you finish after 5AM, you ARE liable to pay night charges.

Unlike other part of the country, especially Delhi where rape is prevalent, crime is rare, except for possibly common crime like pickpocketing.

Tourist traps

One of the common scams is to charge the night fare rate during daytime. You should be careful and read the heading before paying. In some cards, the night fare is red in color and the daytime fare is black in color.

When you pay with a ₹500 note, make sure it does not get swapped with a ₹100 note. Both notes look similar.

Sometimes, auto-rickshaw drivers charge the taxi fare and even show you a tariff card which is used for taxi fare computation.

You can download m-indicator app which is available in Play Store and iTunes App Store. This app carries latest taxi fares, auto fares, bus services details and local train time table.

By auto-rickshaw

Auto-rickshaws are only allowed to operate beyond Bandra in the western suburbs and beyond Sion in the central suburbs. They are not issued licenses in the downtown areas.

Before departing, ensure that the meter is visible and shows the flag-down reading as 1.00 (on a mechanical meter). If the number is higher, insist that the driver flags it down once again. The minimum fare is ₹18. The meter remains at 1.00 for the first 1.6 km and every 0.10 movement indicates approx 200 m (i.e. 1.50 for every 0.2 km). The fare is ₹7 for every km, except for the first 1.6 km for which it is ₹15. Every auto driver is supposed to carry a valid RTO approved meter tariff card. You can check this tariff card before paying. The meter also keeps ticking if you are waiting and/or are stuck in traffic. It's quite handy to have a copy of the meter card issued by The Mumbai Traffic Police. All of this appplies to mechanical meters, not digital meters. Newer digital meters have started becoming common from 2012 onwards, and they show the exact fare, so there is no need to convert via the tariff card.

Auto-rickshaws are slower than cars and have terrible suspensions. Pregnant ladies are most strongly advised not to travel by auto-rickshaws since the combination of rash driving, poor suspensions, and horrible road conditions have quite often led to serious complications. The auto-rickshaw is a slow and uncomfortable vehicle and not recommended for very long distances.

By bus

Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (known as BEST) provides efficient and comprehensive services connecting up all places of the city and the suburbs. Some services also link the city with the extended suburbs like Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Mira-Bhayanadar areas. Seats are almost always occupied. There are bus stops all over the city. There is usually a crowd and queue. You have to get in through the rear entrance and off at the front. Tickets are issued by a uniformed "conductor" after you get in. Special seats are marked for "Ladies", "Senior Citizens", "Handicapped", "Expectant Women", and "Women with infants". They can get in from the front.

Buses run from 5AM to midnight. Selected routes run beyond these timings, but much less often. Average frequency between buses ranges from five to 30 min depending on the route. Fares are reasonable and buses can be travelled during peak hours, unlike trains which are far too crowded. Some trunk routes do get extremely crowded however. Peak hours also have traffic snarls which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads.

What connects Electric supply and Transport?

BEST got into transport by starting a tram company. Now, of course, it runs buses that run on diesel & CNG, not electricity. The company is still in charge of electricity distribution for South and Central Mumbai.

Buses are numbered and the final destination is marked on the front in Marathi and on the side in English. Generally, buses around the city and trunk routes would be in the 1-199 series. Buses in the western suburbs would be the 200 series while those plying in the central and eastern suburbs would be in the 300 and 400 series. Services to Navi, Mumbai are in the 500 series and buses to the Mira-Bhayander area are in the 700 series. The BEST website has a nifty tool that will help you plan your journey.

BEST has introduced the "DayPass" (Cost for adults — ₹25 (across Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai and Thane) - for children it's less), a ticket valid all day (until midnight) on all buses except Express and A/C services.

By train

Mumbai suburban railway route map

Suburban rail network

Most people travel in Mumbai using the Suburban Rail Network commonly referred to as "Locals". Mumbai has an extensive network, with three lines — the Western Line, the Central Main Line, and the Harbour Line.

Trains on all lines start operations after 4AM and close operations between midnight and 1AM. Second class travel is very cheap. However, it is advisable to buy first class tickets as the economy class is extremely crowded. First Class can be quite expensive and if four people are travelling together, a taxi might be better. There would always be queues and it would be advisable to buy coupon booklets. Coupon booklets punching machines are available at all stations and the best thing is you will not have to stand in a huge line to buy a booklet. Another option is to buy a Smart card for Railways. It helps you maintain balance like any a gift card with an option to refill it once it goes below the limit. Smart card outlets to buy tickets are available on all stations. They are touch screen based and you can simply follow the instructions to buy a ticket for the right path.

If you are a tourist, you can buy a 'Tourist Ticket'. It costs ₹160 and you can travel in first class compartments of all the three lines during the entire day. Ensure the location of the first class compartment before the train arrives. You may ask fellow passengers or the vendors at the various foodstalls. An easier way to spot the location of the First class compartment is to check the station walls painted with red and yellow slant stripes.

Avoid using local trains during rush hour (first class or otherwise). Rush hour is 8:30AM–10:30AM towards CST and Churchgate and 5:30PM–8:30PM in the opposite direction. If you are traveling during rush hour, don't stand near railway track as you will get swamped by frantic. Take no offense if you are pushed and shoved about, as passengers jostle for a spot. As you near your exit station, ensure that you are as close as possible to the train door, as experienced commuters, will be begin the mad run to be first on, or off, the car before the car comes to a full stop! If you stand any chance of getting on/off before the train depart, you must be equally aggressive in your focus to exit/enter, remember no one will take offense if you make contact with others, as you wriggle by! Last, but not least, exiting/entering a train before it comes to a full stop is not something to be taken lightly, one misstep can send a person onto the rails with an amazing ease! Leave the stunts to the experienced locals.

There are special coaches for women on both classes. These are designated by green and yellow slant stripes, spot these stripes on the station walls and you'll know where the ladies compartment is. These are generally less crowded and safer. But very late at night, it might actually be safer to travel by the general coach than the first-class women's coach, as the latter may be absolutely empty except for you. From 11:15PM - 6:30AM the ladies compartment towards the northern end is open to general public. Sometimes they have a cop guarding the coaches, but sometimes they won't. Use your judgment.

Mumbai Metro

The Mumbai Metro currently connects the western suburbs to the eastern suburbs. Line 1 runs from Versova to Ghatkopar with interchange options available at Andheri(Western Line) And Ghatkopar(Central Line) Railway Station. The travel time is 20 minutes.

Mumbai Monorail

India's only monorail in Mumbai has started its operation recently. It has one line and eighteen stations throughout the city. The fare is between ₹5 and ₹11 depends on your destination station.

By ferry

These are a few intra-city ferry services:

By car

Travel agents and hotels can arrange private chauffeur driven cars to provide services. Expensive by comparison with taxis, they are the most trusted, secure, and comfortable way to travel around the city. Driving in Mumbai can be difficult, because of poor driver discipline, but chauffeur driven services are very reasonable. These can be arranged by travel companies or online from the countries of origin. Car rental agencies also have services in Mumbai.

Talk

Mumbai is India's melting pot — a confluence of people from various parts of India, but dominant are people from the west, then north, and followed by the south. Marathi is the state and city official language used by State Government agencies, municipal authorities, and the local police, and also the first language of most locals.

However, being India's largest city and main commercial centre, Mumbai is now also home to migrants from other parts of India who do not speak Marathi. A local variant of Hindi, with strong Bollywood influence, called Bambaiya Hindi serves as the "lingua franca" and although almost everyone can understand standard Hindi, you may get an interesting reply from some. Most educated locals will be trilingual in Marathi, Hindi and English.

English is widely used in the corporate world and in banking and trading. At most places, you will be able to get by with Hindi and English, as most people you will encounter can communicate in broken English at the very least. However expect to hear more regional languages including Gujarati.

See

The game of names

The names of Mumbai's monuments tell us the story of which way political winds were blowing when they were built. In the late 19th century the British named everything after their Queen, so we had Victoria terminus, Victoria Gardens, and the Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute (built in 1887 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation). In the early 20th century, they named everything after the Prince of Wales.

After independence the colonial names could not be retained of course, so they were renamed. Depending on whether the city was suffering from bouts of nationalistic pride or Marathi pride at that time, they were named after either Jawaharlal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) or Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj (King Shivaji, who founded the Maratha empire in the 18th century). Often, they were named after Shivaji's mother, Jijabai. The advantage of this was that using Veermata Jijabai ("Courageous mother Jijabai") for a place that was earlier named for Victoria maintains the same abbreviation, so "Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute" (formerly Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute) is still VJTI.

For a traveller, the practical problem would be that many places have multiple names. Multiple places are named after Nehru, Shivaji, or Jijabai, so you need to be careful about specifying which place you need to get to.

Few important names changes to remember are:

  • 'Victoria Terminus' is now 'Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus'
  • 'Jacob Circle' is now 'Saat Rasta' or 'Sant Gaadge Maharaj Chowk'
  • 'King's Circle' is now 'Maheshwari Udyyan'
  • 'Kurla Terminus' is now 'Lokmanya Tilak Terminus'

There is a lot to see in Mumbai, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in South Mumbai.

By Indian standards, Mumbai is a young city and much of the land comprising the city did not exist until it was claimed from the sea over three centuries ago. It is therefore, a pleasant surprise to find rock cut caves such as the Elephanta, Kanheri, and Mahakali within city limits.

Colonial buildings

The British built a magnificent city within the walls of Fort St. George, which lies at the southern extremity of the city. Some fine examples of the Gothic revival, Neo-classical style and Indo-Saracenic style are seen within this area. To get the best [South Mumbai] experience, stroll around the wide streets of the area right from Churchgate to Colaba. These areas are all beautifully planned and have wide and clean pavements unlike the rest of the city. Famous monuments to be seen in this area are the Gateway of India, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus) building, the Municipal Corporation and Police Headquarters and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sanghralaya (formerly, the Prince Of Wales museum). The famous Taj Mahal hotel is located just opposite the Gateway of India. The Mumbai University buildings and the High Court are also excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city.

There are a lot of other modern structures to look at in this area. The area known as Marine Drive (right from Chowpatty beach to NCPA) is home to a large number of buildings built in the Art Deco style. Mumbai is second only to Miami in the number of Art Deco buildings. some famous buildings in this style are the Eros and Regal cinemas.

Museums and galleries

Nehru Science Centre

Some of the most famous museums and art galleries in India are found here. The Kala Ghoda area in South Mumbai teems with them, particularly the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum), and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Once again, most of them are concentrated in South Mumbai. Also worth planning a visit is Jehangir Art Gallery, also at Kala Ghoda, displays changing exhibits by notable artists. The plaza next to the gallery also regularly displays exhibits of various artists.

Situated in Nehru Complex in Worli is Nehru Centre Art Gallery at Worli, a gallery dedicated to young and promising talent along with established artists. Also within the complex is located a permanent exposition, Discovery of India, which attempts to cover every aspect of artistic, intellectual and philosophical attainment of India through ages. The exposition spreads across 14 galleries and reflects true identity of the country. On the other end of the complex, Nehru Science Centre - which has a separate entrance from Mahalaxmi race course road, has a permanent exhibition on 'interactive and exciting' science related exhibits highlighting science principles in fun yet educational way.

Beaches

Mumbai isn't known for beaches because they have immensely filthy water! Mumbai has a few beaches, including one in the downtown area. But they aren't that great and the water off Mumbai's coast is extraordinarily dirty. The relatively better ones are in the Northwest Mumbai area. However, they are a great place to see how the locals spend their Sunday evenings, with various food and game stalls.

There are other beaches to be found such as the Girgaon Chowpaty(the cleanest one) in South Mumbai, Juhu beach in the western suburbs and Aksa Beach in Malad. The currents don't seem strong, but particularly in the rains, lots of people die from drowning, so avoid getting in the water (especially at Aksa Beach). A word of advice to women: Bombay beaches are not the kind you can wear swimsuits to, particularly two-pieces.

Faludha stall at Juhu beach, Mumbai

Zoos, parks and gardens

Mumbai has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. It is also one of the rare metropolises to have an entire national park within its borders. (Borivali national park also known as Sanjay Gandhi National Park). You will not visit Mumbai for them, but if you are already here, they make a nice escape from the din and bustle. It also houses the ancient Kanheri Caves crafted out of rocky cliffs, which dates back to 2,400 years. Entrance fee: Indians/Foreigns 30/30

The city zoo (Veermata Jijabai Udyan) is in Byculla and is a colonial relic which is surprisingly well-preserved. The animals may look rather emaciated, but the sheer diversity of trees on this lush zoo is worth a trip.

Some city parks are very well-maintained and combine history as well. The "Hanging Gardens" on Malabar Hill offers stunning vistas of the Marine Drive. Opposite the Hanging Gardens, there is another park which is known as Kamla Nehru Park, famous for the striking shoe-shaped structure which has been filmed in various Bollywood movies

Further in South Mumbai, the Mumbai Port Trust Garden, is another hidden gem. This is set off a small side street off the Colaba Causeway 2–3 km south of the main section. Once again, lovely views of the port, the naval yards, and sunset.

In central Mumbai, there are the Five Gardens. Mainly used by walkers in the morning, it is a mess in the evenings. But the gardens encircle some historic, art deco residences.

Markets and crowds

Mumbai is probably worth visiting just for its street markets, the hustle of vendors, and the madness of the crowds. Good places are Bandra, Khar and Andheri. If you came to Mumbai and didn't give visit to the highly dense and crowded markets, it means you didn't meet the real Mumbai.

Hawkers and street shoppers don't ask for any legal permission and then set their stalls at the places where they see maximum footfall. From electronics items to fresh food, you can get everything at railway platforms, subway and mains streets.

Modern buildings and malls

Once the British left, the zeal to wipe away the traces of colonial rule was, unfortunately, not matched by the enthusiasm to build a new city that matched the grandeur of the British-era buildings. Now, while the shabbiness of the socialist era is thankfully being replaced by architecture with an eye on aesthetics, the new malls, multiplexes, and office buildings that are coming up are indistinguishable from those anywhere else in the world. Still, they are worth a look, especially if you want to have a look at India's success story. Skyscrapers exceeding 60 stories now dominate the skyline.

For long, Inorbit Mall was the only mall offering a lot of variety for shoppers. Palladium, built within the High Street Phoenix, broke the monopoly of Inorbit Mall. From state of the art interiors to international brands, the Palladium has everything. The new Infiniti Mall (Infinity 2) in Malad also has lots of foreign brands and is one of the biggest malls in the suburbs. Nirmal Lifestyles Mall in Mulund and Metro Junction Mall in Kalyan are two of the largest malls in Mumbai. Located in the central suburbs, they are quite popular in the city.

Powai is a modern central Mumbai suburb with European looks. Powai houses the Indian Institute of Technology and is built around fabulous lake. Most of the construction is in a township format and is privately built. It houses twenty top of the line restaurants, two large convenience stores, a handful of coffee shops and entertainment areas. Initially built as an upmarket self-contained township, Powai has now grown into a business process outsourcing hub in Mumbai. The township reflects both characteristics; you will often find families shopping and twenty somethings hanging out in tables next to each other.

Religious places

Mumbai has temples, mosques, churches, Parsi agiaries, and even a few synagogues reflecting the diversity of its citizens. While these are naturally of interest if you are a believer, some, like the Portuguese church at Dadar are worth visiting just for their unique architecture.

Siddhivinayak temple of Mumbai is very famous. It is located in Dadar and you can easily get a taxi to go to the temple from the Dadar railway station.

The city also boasts of Jewish places of worship predominantly in the area called Byculla, but also in South Mumbai. In this area the three prominent Jewish groups of Mumbai lived. They were Bagdadi Jews, Bene Israelis and the locals who had conveted over a period of time and lived in the hinterland.

There are two very beautiful Hare Krishna (ISKCON) temples that are significant tourist attractions. One is located in Hare Krishna land, Juhu, Andheri and the other in South Mumbai, near Gandhi's house. Both have Govinda's pure vegetarian restaurants at the premises. Most tourists appreciate the peaceful experience in the temple. It is of international standards and you can get all your spiritual questions answered in plain English.

The Islamic Research Foundation of Dr. Zakir Naik is located in South Central Mumbai near Dongri. This place is very popular among people of all faiths. It hosts a vast library of books from all world religions and is a great place to hangout and know about Islamic culture.

Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most visited places in Mumbai. The Dargah Sharief is built on a tiny islet located 500 meters from the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay, in the vicinity of Worli. People from different religion and places visit this places. More than 80,000 people visit dargah every week.

One notable monument in the northwest suburbs of Mumbai is the Global Vipassana Pagoda, Gorai, Mumbai. It is a meditation center that can seat 8000 people. Vipassana literally means mediation, and the center runs 10-day meditation courses and 1 day mega courses on Sundays. The courses are free of cost but you would have to register for them in advance on their website.

Do

There is a lot to do in Mumbai, but lack of space means that for outdoorsy activities, you need to head north, often outside city limits. In the Northwestern suburbs and Thane, you will find opportunities for water sports like H20 at Girgaum Chowpatty. There are two golf courses in the city, the more famous one in Chembur in the Harbour suburbs.

Mumbai has a vibrant theater scene with plays in many languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi. While South Mumbai has frequent performances, the best organized theater effort is at Prithvi theater, Juhu in the Western Suburbs. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Indian classical music and dance. While not a patch on the Sabhas of Chennai, you will find frequent performances of Carnatic music in Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga in the South Central suburbs.

Mumbai is also usually the first stop for Western pop and rock stars visiting India, which they usually do when they are over 50. The Rock scene is very good in Mumbai. These are very safe to go to and are recommended for rock fans. Most bands cover heavy metal acts like Pantera, Six feet under, and Slipknot. To try to find places with specific music tastes try asking students outside Mumbai's colleges. Western classical music performances are rarer. However most classical music performances along with other art forms are regularly performed at NCPA and Tata Theatre, both situated next to the narrow strip at Nariman Point.

Dabbawallas of Mumbai deliver two million lunch boxes every day
Marine Drive

Festivals

While many religious festivals are celebrated by people in Mumbai, a few of these are essentially public and social occasions, where the traveller can participate.

Organized festivals & events

Religious festivals

Sports

Mumbai inherits the cricket fever justifiably and has 3 of the finest Crickets stadiums namely Brabourne Stadium (Churchgate), Wankhede Stadium (Marine Lines) and D.Y.Patil Stadium (Navi Mumbai). Several of international cricket matches and domestic championships such as IPL have been played in these stadiums. Watch out for upcoming cricket stadium to join the cricket frenzy crowd. Apart from these, Ruia College, Shivaji Park, Azad Maidan, Marine Lines are some of the places where live cricket action can be seen for free. Alternatively if you are a football (soccer) fan, you may want to visit Cooperage Football ground (Colaba) for a local league match. For swimming enthusiasists, Mahatma Gandhi Swimming Pool (Dadar W) is the place to visit. For horse racing, head straight to Mahalakshmi Race Course (Mahalakshmi). Powai hosts some of the finest Golf fields. For others there are many sport activities including Tennis, Table Tennis, Badminton which can be practised at various clubs. Gyms are plenty and can be easily found.

Learn


Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

Work

Nariman Point and Fort are the commercial hubs of the city and the most sought after destinations. There is a significant expatriate population working in the banks and financial services industries. Bandra-Kurla region has come up in recent years too, but remains less desirable.

Advertising industry is a prominent industry in Mumbai. Many of the top advertisings companies such as Lintas, O&M, Saachi & Saachi, Contract, Trikaya Grey have their offices in the city.

A good idea to make quick money is to work part-time in a BPO or a call center most of which are concentrated at Mindspace, Malad(W) and Hiranandani Gardens (Powai). A part-time job can pay you as much as ₹15,000 a month for just six hours a day for five days in a week. Only good for English speaking travellers.

Foreigners can also earn a quick buck as extras in Bollywood movies. Pay rates average ₹500-₹700 for a full day (8AM-8PM). Bring a book as there is a lot of time spent sitting around, so it's not something do for the money. Normally you won't have to look for them as they will be asking tourists near Leopolds or your hotel manager may ask you when you book in.

Buy

Visa and Master cards are widely accepted in the city shops. Many shopping establishments also accept American Express, Diners and host of other cards. However, some of the small shops or family-run shops may not accept these cards and some handy cash can be of help here. ATMs are widely available and many debit cards accepted as well. If you have an Indian bank account or credit card, you may not need to carry too much of cash. If you are a foreigner, it is a good idea to carry some cash to avoid charges while using your credit or debit card.

In general, costs in Mumbai are higher than the rest of India, though they are still much lower by Western standards.

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

The shopping experience in the city is a study in contrasts. At the lower end of the spectrum are street vendors. Existing at the borderline of legality, entire streets have been given over to these hawkers and in many places it is impossible to walk on the footpaths, because they have blocked the way. On the other hand, these vendors often give you a great bargain though you will have to haggle a lot and be careful about what to buy. There's nothing like taking a local along to shop for you. Some famous shopping streets are:

What to buy

Bookshops

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

Mumbai has large number of organized book shops. However it also has number of streetside second hand book shops or displays that give opportunity to come across rare collections. Many of these roadside book shops can be prominently found, among many, near Flora Fountain, Maheshwari Udyyan (former King's Circle) and Dadar west market.

If you are somewhere in the western suburbs (santacruz,juhu etc.) Granth on juhu road could be a good bet to find the book you are looking for.

The Crossword chain of book shops has an outlet in most malls around the city, as well as the main store in Kemp's Corner. Strand book shop in the Fort area in south Mumbai is a long-standing institute, and well known for its bargains.

Tourist traps

In a place without clearly displayed price tags (and sometimes even in places with), you will get charged about 3-4 times as much as a local if you seem like a tourist. Take a local with you if you're going to local markets to haggle. Haggling is much louder and ruder in India than elsewhere. Don't be afraid to haggle things down to 1/4 of the asking price. And most importantly remember that almost all stores that sell carpets, jewelry, handicrafts, etc. pay huge amounts of commission (25% up to even 50%!) to the cab drivers, hence avoid tourist taxis, cabs, etc. Another thing to remember is not to haggle just for the fun of it. The shopkeepers may take offence if you don't buy an item after they have agreed to your price. One of the places that you can trust is The World Trade Centre (in Cuffe Parade, near Hotel Taj President). Besides being the only World Trade Centre in Mumbai, this place has an amazing range of exquisite carpets, handicrafts, shawls, etc. with reputed government approved stores and state emporiums too. Ask for receipts everywhere, including bars, and check what you have been charged for. Don't ever accept a guide offer or escort of somebody from the street: You will certainly get conned. If some place (including cabs, eateries, stores, etc.) claims it doesn't have change (this is highly unlikely), insist they get change from a neighbouring store.

Groceries

In addition to the local grocery stores which can be found on most of the streets, there are new additions to the city in the form of new big and small supermarkets and hypermarkets where you can get all the food items you need. Some of them are Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Hypercity, DMart, Spinach Local, Apna Bazaar.

If you are looking for exotic fruits and vegetables then you can try looking in stores like Natures Basket.

Eat

The Mumbai lunch consists of white rice, vegetable fries, dhal fries, onion, yoghurt and pooris.

The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. You can find cuisine from the Middle East, Western Europe, North America and China easily. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Mumbai, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food and Irani cafes. That is what is described here. For individual restaurants and other places to eat, go to the individual district pages.

Don't leave Mumbai without trying:

Speciality restaurants

Tourists are suggested to use local Business search engines through the Internet or telephone for easy and accurate listing of the places or cuisines of interests in the location of choice. Popular search Engines include Justdial, Burrp, AskLaila, DizyLocal, etc. The search engines shall provide the address, contact details, and user ratings (if available) of the specific eatery (if name is provided), or list of eatery catering to the specialty (e.g. Seafood, Pubs, Chinese Food, etc.) depending on the location suggested (e.g. Worli, Bandra, South Mumbai, etc.).

North-Western

International Cuisine

International brands

Regional Indian

Street food stalls

Batata Vadas are a favorite of the Mumbai street food stalls

Songs have been written about Mumbai's street food and you will find that the hype is justified. You will find them at every street corner, but they are concentrated in beaches and around railway stations.

Tip: cheap and tasty food stalls are concentrated around the city's colleges.

Street stall food in India is fantastic, and dirt cheap (you can fill yourself up for ₹20). However, do consider well what you are putting in your mouth. Almost certainly the water used is non-potable, street vendors don't seem to understand much about hygiene or hand-washing, and food safety standards are low, with flies buzzing over everything. Even locals steer clear of street food during the monsoons, when diseases run rampant. If the stall seems very clean, and if it clearly states that it is using Aquaguard or mineral water, go for it.

Authentic Marathi cuisine

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

Mumbai, being home to large ethnic Marathi community, has its share of notable restaurants that offer authentic Marathi cuisine. Most offer both snacks and regular dining. Some of the snacks to check out are Sabudana Wada, Batata Wada, Missal, Kanda Poha, Uppit (or Upma), Shira, Alu Wadi, Thalipith, Zunka Bhakari,ghavane (neer dosa) and many more. Two notable appetizer are Kokam Sarbat and Solkadhi which are best enjoyed during hot summers. People say that many of these authentic Marathi restaurants are finding it difficult to survive competitions with other modern or fast food typed restaurants, but you will find Gajali, Malvan Kinara, Sindhudurg and many more have retained their own charm and clientele.

Udupi restaurants

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

Mangalorians(and udupi) forms the highset tourist populations of Mumbai,and both the cities have almost same culture and architecture. "Udupi" restaurants (or "hotels") are everywhere. They bear the name of the town of Udupi in Karnataka, but do not be misled into thinking that they specialize in the cuisine of Udupi. They serve pretty much everything, and that is their specialty.

Usually strictly vegetarian, these restaurants were opened by migrants from the district of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka (of which Udupi is a part), to satisfy the palates of other migrants from the district. Over time, they gained popularity as places to have South Indian food. As the tastes of their customers evolved, so to did their menus, so much that now you can find Mughlai, Indian Chinese, Bhelpuri, and other chaats in addition to South Indian stuff. Amazingly, some places serve imitations of pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches too!

They are fast food joints and sit-down restaurants combined. The reason to visit them is not to experience fine gourmet dining, but to have cheap, passably tasty and fairly hygienic food. There is no easy way to identify an Udupi restaurant — they are not a chain of restaurants and they may not have "Udupi" in their name, so you will have to ask.

Matunga(Central line) has the best south Indian fare in Mumbai. There are few restaurants which could well be heritage sites as they are more than 50 years old and still retain their old world charm(and furniture).

Irani cafes

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

Irani cafe's are Persian styled cafes opened by 19th century Persian migrants from Iran. These cafes have a unique lazy atmosphere, display of day-to-day accessories including toothpastes behind the cashier, soaps and what nots(specially targeted at bachelor crowds) and furniture. Most of these cafes were located at the corner of the road or building and were chosen spots by commuters to spend time. It was quite a usual sight to find people spending hours reading newspaper over a cup of tea for hours in these places. Sadly the new restaurants and fast food culture has almost removed these cafes from the maps, though few notables like Kyani & Co. and Olympia remain. The joints are best known for their "Irani Chai", "Bun-Maska/Maska Pav" (bread and butter) and Egg Omelette. Also are popular their assorted snacks, like Kheema-na-Patice, samosas, mava-na-cakes, etc. One of the best dish which is almost always on the menu is Kheema (prepared from ground meat) and pav (bread).

Thalis

If you order a thali (translated as "plate"), you get a complete meal arranged on your plate, with a roti or chappati, rice, and many different varieties of curries and curd. Ordering a thali is a popular option when you are hungry and in a hurry as it is usually served blazingly fast. Most mid-level restaurants have a thali on the menu, at least during lunch hours. Occasionally, they are "unlimited", which means that some of the items are all-you-can-eat. The waiters serve them at your table.

Of course, you find many varieties of them, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There is the South Indian thali. The "North Indian" thali translates to Mughlai or Punjabi. Do try Gujarati or Rajasthani thalis if you can find them. They are sinfully filling and tasty. Rajdhani (At Crawford Market) serves up thalis in the Rajasthani style while Aram (near Mahim Church, Mahim), Ramanayak Udipi (At Matunga Station, east) serves up thalis in South Indian style and Shree Thakker Bhojanalaya (off Kalbadevi Road) do filling and fabulous Gujarati thalis.

Fast food chains

Surprisingly, there is no fast-food chain in Mumbai serving Indian cuisine. But Western chains like McDonalds, Subway, Pizza hut , Dominos,Kentucky Fried Chicken etc. have many outlets all over the city. But if you are a weary westerner looking for the taste of the familiar, be warned that all of them have rather heavily Indianized their menus, so you will find the stuff there as exotic as you found Bambaiyya food. However, Barista, Cafe Coffee Day, and Smokin' Joe's are all Indian chains, although they don't serve Indian food. While Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, as there names suggest, serve coffee and pastries, Smokin' Joe's serves decent pizzas and is headquartered in Carmichael Rd, Mumbai. International coffee chains like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Aromas have recently set shop in Mumbai.

Naturals is a chain of ice cream stores that serves up tasty and unconventional flavours of ice creams. Try their tender coconut or the coffee walnut ice creams. Its main branch is in Juhu in the Western suburbs (hence the tagline - 'Ice cream of Juhu Scheme'), but it has franchises at many places including Marine Drive, Bandra, Nepean sea road, etc. Naturals is also famous for its seasonal "Sitaphal" or Custard Apple Ice-cream. Baskins-Robbins is an international ice cream chain having its presence throughout the city. Also there are a number of shops in malls anongst other places which serve Italian Gelato icecream.

Try the sumptuous creamy crepes and omelets at Crepe Station, Bandra. Its owned by a famous Bollywood actor, Dino Morea.

What to eat

Asking a local for suggestions is a fun way to try new things. Here are a few suggestions:

Indian Cuisine

Tipping

Tip between 5% at sit-down places. If a place includes service charges on the bill, you don't need to leave an extra tip. Note the difference between service tax and service charges. Service tax goes to Government and not to the staff. While tipping is always good practice, at bars you don't necessarily have to tip the bartender. If you plan to be there a while though it's a good idea to give him ₹50-₹100 on your first drink to ensure a night of trouble-free service. You do not have to tip cab or auto drivers at all, and don't get out of the vehicle until they have given you full and exact change.

Drink

Pubs & bars

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

A recent police crackdown (June 2012) on many popular bar and clubs is underway, so be cautious when visiting lower to mid range bars. Mumbai is one of the most liberal cities in India when it comes to attitudes to alcohol. Bars exist at virtually every street corner and many of them advertise themselves as "family" bars and restaurants, which indicates that they are primarily restaurants where one can also have a drink. Other places are primarily bars, some of them might be sleazy. In South Mumbai and in the Western suburbs, you are likely to find many places where foreigners hang out.

Mumbai is much more accepting of women drinking than the rest of India. A woman ordering a drink is unlikely to raise eyebrows even in mid-range bars, though if you are alone, you might need to look out for your safety.

Nightlife in Mumbai spans the gamut from performances at five star hotels to discos. Dance bars which involve young, fully clothed women dancing mostly to Hindi film and pop music, have been shut down by the government for corrupting the morals of those who frequent those places. While the state high court has ruled that the crackdown was illegal, it will be a while before they open again as there are some technicalities involved to be sorted out.

In Mumbai, alcohol is much more easily available than many cities in India.

Drinking & driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered as a serious offence in India . In the event of an accident the law deals with drink-drive offenders with severity. The punishment is a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months. The driving license is suspended for at least six months.

LGBT options

There is already a lively late night, if somewhat subterranean, scene for gays, as well as social and political networks. However, you need to do your homework before arriving, as LGBT gathering spaces and organizations are not published or available at local newsstands. However, Bombay Dost (Bombay Friends) the only magazine catering to the community, after 7 years of running was closed and relaunched in 2009. Much of Mumbai's LGBT scene is coordinated using social networking sites and groups. Use extreme caution; robberies, hustlers, and even police entrapment are not unheard of.

Coffee shops

There many coffee shops in and around Mumbai. Try the Cafe Coffee Day and Barista chains. Also, three Starbucks stores were opened in Mumbai in late 2012, and more are likely to follow. These are the best around town and also serve some pretty neat coffee for cheap. There's the Cafe Mocha chain of coffee shops which also serve fruit flavoured hookas — South Asian smoking pipes. If a small coffee and cookies place is what you are looking for, try Theobroma, it has an outlet at Cusrow Baug in Colaba. Those looking for a more native form of coffee can try the filter coffee, a milky coffee with origins from South India, from any Udupi restaurant.

Sleep

Taj Mahal Hotel at night
Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

It is very difficult to find good budget hotels in Mumbai. If you are a tourist or a business traveller, you may have to stay in South Mumbai, which is where both the business district and the touristy areas are. Lack of space means that even the cheapest hotel charges stratospheric tariffs. The state of public transport and traffic means that it is not really a good choice to stay anywhere else. In any case, things aren't much better if you are looking for hotels close to the airport. You should be looking at the Western Suburbs in that case. There are many guest houses at Colaba, where you find most of budget foreign travellers stay. Other budget hotels are found near railway stations, such as Dadar or Santa cruz, but most of them are absolute dumps. One safe and economical place to stay in Mumbai is the YMCA. Reasonably priced accommodations are available at the Colaba, Bombay Central, Andheri, and CBD Belapur Branches.

One inexpensive alternative is to live with a local family as a paying guest. A list of available families can be obtained from the Government of India tourist office (+91 22 2220 7433) opposite Churchgate train station.

On the other hand, if money is of no object, you can stay at the Taj in Colaba (the oldest in India), the Leela Kempinski, the ITC Grand Maratha, or the JW Marriott Mumbai, Renaissance Mumbai Hotel & Convention Centre. Hotel listings are in the district pages.

Camping

Whether you want to hang around with your close friends, spend some time with your family or wan to get away from concrete jungle, you an find plethora of places nearby Mumbai. You can try out letscampout.com for more options on camping near Mumbai.

Camping can be done safely on spots such as:

Connect

Landlines

The area code for Mumbai is "22" (prefix "+91", if you are calling from outside India). Phone numbers are eight digits long, but on occasion you will find a seven digit number listed. That is probably an old listing. They made the changeover from seven to eight digits a few years back, when they allowed private service providers to offer telephone. Just prefix a "2" to the number and it should work just fine.

Pay phones

Phone booths can be found all over the city. Though they are coin operated, there is usually someone to run the place. (Typically the phones are attached to a roadside shop). You need to keep putting ₹1 coins into the slot to extend the talk time, so keep a change of ₹1 coins handy with you. The person running the booth will usually have them. If you find a booth marked STD/ISD, you can call internationally or anywhere within the country. Fees will be charged according to the time spent and a meter runs to keep track of your time. You pay when you have finished your call. Often it is difficult to find one that is open early in the morning or late at night.

Mobile phones

Cell phone coverage in the city is excellent. There are many service providers offering a wide variety of plans. Among them are The MTNL, Vodafone, Loop Mobile, Airtel, Dolphin, Reliance, and Tata Indicom. It might be a good idea to buy a cell phone and use one of those prepaid plans to get yourself connected while you are in the city.

All mobile numbers, are 10 digits long and begin with a "9", "8" or "7". Do not dial the city prefix for mobile numbers. If you don't get through to a mobile number, try adding a "0" before you dial it.

Due to security threats, in order to purchase a SIM card you will need to provide formal identification.

Cybercafes

Cybercafes are located at virtually on every street corner and the rates are quite low. Do note that they have probably not kept pace with advances in hardware or software, so if you find yourself in one of them, don't be surprised if you are stuck with a really small monitor, Windows XP, and Internet Explorer 5.0. Also data security could be an issue. As a caution, change your password after you use it at a cybercafe or do private/incognito browsing.

WiFi

Finding WiFi in Mumbai is very difficult due to security concerns. A few coffeeshops such as Barista may offer access. You should start your search with Chembur, Pamposh, Phoenix Mills, Santa Cruz, and Sterling Baristas. Three Starbucks stores were opened in Mumbai in late 2012, and they have free WiFi. You can also find free WiFi at the airport, provided by YOU Broadband.

Postal & courier services

The Indian Postal service's head office is housed at GPO, a magnificent colonial architecture on its own; next to the C.S.T. railway station. The other main branch office can be found at Dadar (E) on Ambedkar Rd.

Stay safe

Violent crime in Mumbai is more or less like any other large Indian city.

As with any foreign city, it is best to err on the side of safety and act according to your local environment. Here are a few basic safety tips:

Emergency numbers

Mumbai Police

  • Traffic Control, ☎ +91 22 24937746
  • Traffic Helpline, ☎ +91 22 30403040

Railways

Airport

Air Ambulance

Fire Station, ☎ 101, +91 22 23076111/23086181/2306112/13

Coast Guard, ☎ +91 22 24376133, +91 22 24371932

Stay healthy

Cope

Maps

Newspapers

Local newspapapers can be handy and reliable sources for day to day updates about the city. The city has number of newspapers and other publication that list local happenings. ''The Times of India has a supplement called Bombay Times. There are also other papers like The Asian Age, DNA, Indian Express, Hindustan Times and Free Press Journal. For the business updates, check Economic Times.

There are three very good local city tabloids called Mid-Day, Mumbai Mirror, and Afternoon. These papers are city focused and cover a lot of gossip, local news, and have plenty of entertainment listings. One could refer to these papers for any specific activity. In addition, Time Out now has an excellent Mumbai edition each month which can be picked up on street bookshops. It is a little more eclectic than the others listed here. Most newspapers would not cost more than ₹3. All of these papers have information on arts, dance, eating out, food festivals, events, exhibitions, lectures, movies, theatre listings, concerts, seminars, and workshops.

There are also many local newspapers in regional languages such as Lok Satta (marathi), Maharashtra Times (marathi), Saamna (marathi), Navakal (marathi), Janmabhoomi (gujrati), Mumbai Samachar (gujrati) and Navbharat Times (Hindi) which cater to local and regional interests and tastes.

Radio

There are twelve radio stations in Mumbai, with nine broadcasting on the FM band, and three All India Radio stations broadcasting on the AM band. Mumbai also has access to commercial radio providers such as Sirius and XM.

Hospitals

Individual listings can be found in Mumbai's district articles

Animal hospital

Diagnostic centre

List of Major Diagnostic, health care and Polyclinics:

24 hour chemist

Foreign missions

Apart for the ones listed above there are consulates of a number of nations which can be can be found in the yellow pages directory .

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