Ancient Indian Caves
Take a ferry from Gateway of India to the Elephanta Caves – Ornately sculpted, 7th-century cave temple on Island.
The Mumba Devi road is to your right from the northern end of Zaveri Bazaar. It is a narrow street lined with stalls selling a spectrum of objects associated with Hindu religion — copper bracelets, rings, rudrakska malas, brass lingams, photgraphs of deities, incense, saffron and so on. Ochre clad sadhus flit along the street, their foreheads smeared with ash paste and vermilion.
Just outside the temple, the stalls sell flowers: garlands of sweet smelling jasmine, orange marigolds and pink lotuses — an offering, which is considered auspicious by the worshippers. The temple itself is not impressive but is an important landmark as it is dedicated to MumbaDevi, the city\’s patron deity. It is from her that Bombay gets its local name Mumbai. The temple is about six centuries old. The present structure of the Mumbadevi temple was built on the destruction of the earlier temple in 1737.
The first Mumbadevi temple was situated at Bori Bunder, and is believed to have been destroyed between 1739 and 1770. Legend goes that when Bombay was a cluster of seven islands inhabited by Koli fisherfolk, it was frequented by the demon Mumbaraka who terrorised the natives. To rid themselves of this misery, the people then prayed to Brahma, the Lord of Creation. Moved by their pleas, Brahma ‘produced from his own body’ the eight-armed goddess who then defeated Mumbaraka. The demon begged her forgiveness, requested her to take his name and built a temple in her honour.
Dressed in silver robes and adorned with nose studs sits Mumba, the presiding goddess of Mumbai, inside this temple at Phansi Talao. Mumba is a goddess without a mouth and is a local representation of Mother Earth, and is worshipped by the Koli fisherfolk. Beside the statue of the orange faced goddess MumbaDevi also reside idols of Indra, Ganesh and Hanuman. It is common belief that the goddess does not disappoint any of her devotees if they pray to her sincerely. The temple is closed on Mondays.
Marine Drive, Mumbai
Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai
Breach Candy, Mumbai
At the northern foot of the Malabar Hill, is a part now called Breach Candy, was a temple dedicated to three goddesses– Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. A creek to the north separated the island of Mumbai from the Koli island of Worli. This creek was filled after the completion of the Hornby Vellard in 1784. Soon after, the modern temple of Mahalakshmi was built here. Breach Candy is one of the posh areas of Bombay and boasts of swanky showrooms, expensive apartments and the Breach Candy Hospital.
The Mahalaxmi Temple complex is easily distinguished by the flock of grey pigeons pecking at grain in its courtyard. Beyond the ornate gate is the shrine wherein resides the buxom goddess of Lucre — Laxmi. The compound of the temple is abuzz with stalls selling flower garlands and pious paraphernalia.
Image courtesy: Ryan
The Jain Temple is about fifteen minutes away by foot from the Kamala Nehru Park. In the 6th Century BC, Mahavira, a philosopher and thinker, founded the Jain Sect. He urged followers to eschew violence and reverse all forms of life. Adorning the walls of the opulent temple are frescoes of various incidents in the lives of the Tirthankaras (prophets).
Upstairs, a black marble shrine is guarded with celestial personifications of the planets, beautifully painted onto the ceiling. The temple is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankara. In accordance with the teachings of Mahavira, priests in the temple wear muslin masks over their faces, lest they kill germs and small insects while inhaling.
Laburnum Road, Gamdevi, Mumbai
One kilometre away from Khotachi Wadi is Mani Bhavan, the Bombay residence of Mahatama Gandhi. It is a two storeyed house which has the Gandhi Museum.
There is a reference library stocked with over 20,000 books, a photo exhibition of Gandhi’s life and well-preserved memorabilia including an old charkha (spinning wheel) which belonged to the Mahatama.
Timings are from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, on all weekdays.
Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort, Mumbai
Walking for ten minutes down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, from the Prince of Wales Museum, you come to the Town Hall, a colonnaded structure resting atop a huge flight of stone steps. The Hall is a majestic landmark with its parquet floors, spiral staircases, wrought iron loggias and old marble statues of long -forgotten city founders.
Located here is the Asiatic Library, a rather stodgy ‘institution’ of the bygone days as it still follows the practice of offering membership only to worthy citizens.
The Asiatic library has a teak lined athenaeum stacked with over 8,00,000 antique volumes including the invaluable first edition copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy. You will also find here an amazing numismatic collection of 10,000 antique coins with a rare gold mohur belonging to the Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Despite the crack in the walls, the musty air and the paucity of funds, the Library still has a few loyal patrons who can be seen poring over the newspapers, daily Timings: 10:30 am to 5:00 pm except Sundays and holidays.
Completed in 1864, The Flora Fountain was erected by the Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India out of a donation by Cursetjee Fardoonjee Parekh and is today, the hub of activity in town.
The area is barely ten minutes away by foot from Victoria Terminus station but this travel time stretches to an easy twenty-five minutes as you edge past vendors and their wares which clog the pavements along with the pedestrian traffic. Stalls selling books (old and new), magazines, newspapers, sex shop gizmos, cheap toys, Tee shirts, fake imported perfumes and aftershaves, flashy watches, shoes, bags, umbrellas, plastic items, Gucci lookalike sunglasses, stationery, cameras, cellphones, posters of Bollywood stars and starlets… you name it and it’s there. Some of this stuff is smuggled and is original while most of it is spurious. You need a practised eye to detect the difference.
Across these stalls on the other side of the road is the prominent American Express building, providing a sharp contrast of the credit card culture emerging from within the walls of ancient Portland stone. Outside this building squat self-styled herbal practitioners, with ash smeared on their foreheads, who proffer their panaceas for any kind of medical ailment ranging from ear infection to constipation to sexual impotence. They attract a lot of curious passers-by.
There, in the midst of this demographic mosaic, stands the enthralling Roman Goddess of Flowers, gazing serenely at a pair of torch-bearing stone patriots of the Martyr’s Memorial nearby. The square around Flora Fountain is now called Hutatma Chowk or Martyr’s Place to honour those who died during the tumultuous birth of the state of Maharashtra.
Kamala Nehru Park is a park in India covering an area of 4,000 square feet (370 m2). Located at the top of Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, it is named after Kamala Nehru, the wife of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
A place frequently visited by schoolchildren, it has little to offer by way of entertainment apart from a structure shaped like a shoe. The shoe structure is inspired by the nursery rhyme There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
From the garden, one can see the spectacular view of the city, Chowpatty Beach, and Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive).
Image courtesy: wikimedia
The Rajabai Clock Tower was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect. He modeled it on Big Ben, the clock tower of the UK houses of Parliament in London.
The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1869 and construction was completed in November 1878. The total cost of construction came to INR2 lakhs, a princely sum in those days. This entire cost was defrayed by Premchand Roychand, a prosperous broker who founded the Bombay Stock Exchange on the condition that the tower be named after his mother Rajabai.
Premchand Roychand’s mother was blind and as a staunch follower of Jain religion she was supposed to consume her dinner before evening. The evening bell of the tower helped her to know the time without anyone’s help.
Image courtesy: wikimedia
Founded in 1857, the University of Bombay is one of the first three oldest public state universities in India, located in the city of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra.
It was known as the “University of Bombay” until 1996, when the city of Bombay was renamed Mumbai. The university was renamed as per a gazette of the Government of Maharashtra dated September 4, 1996.
The University of Bombay was established in 1857 at the Fort campus, which is located near the southern end of Mumbai. It houses the administrative division of the university. It is built in the Gothic style of architecture. The Rajabai clock tower stands in the lawns of the campus. Also located in this campus is the convocation hall of the university, which has been accorded the status of a heritage structure by UNESCO.
The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on 14 August 1862. Although the name of the city was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, the Court as an institution did not follow suit and remained as the Bombay High Court.
The work on the present building of the High Court was commenced in April 1871 and completed in November 1878. It was designed by British engineer Col. J.A. Fuller.
Architecture: Gothic revival in the Early English style. It is 562 feet (171 m) long and 187 feet (57 m) wide. To the west of the central tower are two octagonal towers. The statues of Justice and Mercy are atop this building.
Colaba Causeway, officially known as Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, is a commercial street, and a major causeway or land link between Colaba and the Old Woman’s Island in the city of Mumbai, India.
It lies close to the Fort area, and to the east of Cuffe Parade, an upmarket neighbourhood in South Mumbai, and close by are Mumbai’s famous landmarks, the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.
Opp. Bombay Gymkhana, MG Road, Fort, Mumbai
Fashion Street refers to a cluster of about 50 to 80 clothing shops on MG Road in South Mumbai, India. It is located just opposite Bombay Gymkhana. Bargain hard, prices quoted are subject to the whims of the seller and have little to no bearing on the actual sale price of the garment.
LT Marg, Fort, Mumbai
Probably the last bastion of British Bombay, poised between the two worlds — the Fort and the bylanes of the old town. The structure is a cross between Flemish and Norman architecture with a bas-relief depicting Indian peasants in wheat fields just above the main entrance.
The frieze was designed by Lockwood Kipling, father of British novelist Rudyard Kipling. He designed the fountain inside the market as well, but today it is barely visible, squashed under mounds of apples and mangoes.
Crawford Market covers an area of 72000 square yards and was built of coarse Coorla rubble, relieved by bright redstone from Bassein. The Arthur Crawford Market was built during the tenure of Arthur Crawford as Bombay’s Municipal Commissioner.
The market was renamed Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market after a famous social reformer and houses a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, poultry, fish and meat stalls and a few stalls selling smuggled goods like Mars, Toblerone and Kraft cheese.
During summer, the market smells of sweet mangoes as the King of Fruits swarms the place. If you happen to frequent this part of Mumbai city during summer, drop in at Badshah Juice Centre for a mango milkshake. You won’t regret it.
The market is situated opposite the Mumbai Police headquarters, just north of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station and west of the J.J. flyover at a busy intersection.
Opp. Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India is the main museum in Mumbai, formerly Bombay.
The Prince of Wales himself laid the foundation stone of the Museum in 1905, during his visit to Bombay. Completed in 1914, the Museum was converted into a military hospital during the First World War and then formally opened in 1923.
From the Gateway, the Prince of Wales Museum is hardly five minutes away by foot. When you walk along the Chattrapati Shivaji Road past the Bombay Yacht Club, at the end of the road stands the Regal Cinema at the SP Mukherji Chowk. Directly opposite Regal is the domed museum — gothic and moorish in architecture in the remarkable cross of styles which eventually came to be known as Indo-Saracenic.
It is ensconced in the well manicured gardens, sharing the landscape with statues of British Generals and Chinese figurines. This four tiered goliath houses a priceless collection of over 2000 miniature paintings from various stylistic schools in India.
Among other artifacts feature a sizeable number of relics of the Indus Valley Civilisation and instances of Tibetan and Nepalese art. An entire gallery is devoted to the Buddhist tankha scrolls and another to Tibetan bronzes.
The museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands, categorized primarily into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The museum houses Indus Valley Civilization artefacts, and other relics from ancient India from the time of the Guptas, Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta.
Malabar Hill, Walkeshwar, Mumbai
The Hanging Gardens, in Bombay, also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, are terraced gardens perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side, just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park.
They provide sunset views over the Arabian Sea and feature numerous hedges carved into the shapes of animals.
The park was laid out in 1881 by Ulhas Ghapokar over Bombay’s main reservoir, some say to cover the water from the potentially contaminating activity of the nearby Towers of Silence.
Walkeshwar Temple Compound, Malabar Hill, Mumbai
Banganga is an ancient water tank which is part of the Walkeshwar Temple Complex in Malabar Hill area of Mumbai in India.
According to local legend, it sprang forth when the Hindu god Ram, the exiled hero of the epic Ramayana, stopped at the spot five thousand years ago in search of his kidnapped wife Sita.
As the legend goes, overcome with fatigue and thirst, Rama asked his brother Lakshmana to bring him some water. Laxman instantly shot an arrow into the ground, and water gushed forth from the ground, creating a tributary of the Ganges, which flows over a thousand miles away, hence its name, Banganga, the Ganga created on a baan (arrow).
Opp. Wilson College, Marine Drive, Mumbai
Chowpatty developed as a sort of base station leading upto Malabar Hill as it is inextricably linked to adjoining areas of Malabar Hill, Girgaum, Gamdevi and Khetwadi. At the northern end of Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach is a virtual carnival every day in the evenings when people come there with their children for recreation.
The ferris wheels and merry-go-round hold attraction for the children and for the adults, the array of food stalls selling golas,chat, kulfi and bhel. Recommended only for those with a strong biology.
There are pony rides, snake charmers, self-styled gymnasts, monkey shows, eunuchs, astrologers and drug peddlers as well. The Chowpatty sea face has both residential and commercial buildings and there is a red light district behind. Consequently, in the evenings the area is flooded with unsavoury elements, pickpockets and well-muscled masseurs offering their services.
Ahead, to your right across the road stands Wilson College there is also a Nana Nani Park along Chowpatty Beach for the elderly to walk around in, sit and enjoy the sea breeze.
DN Road, Fort, Mumbai
Earlier known as Victoria Terminus (VT Station), this is located a few yards from the General Post Office down Walchand Hirachand Road. Modelled along the lines of St. Pancras station in London, it boasts of carved stone friezes, stained glass windows, flying buttresses and gargoyles.
The station was christened to mark Victoria Jubilee Day in 1887 but is today, more known for the sea of frenzied commuters moving in and out through its massive arches. It was opened to the public on New Year’s Day, 1882 and is now the starting point of the Central Railways. The Italian Gothic style, full of marvellous filigrees and carvings, merits detailed examination.
Unfortunately, some of the lovely carvings are at such an awkward height that you can only get a close view from the upper deck of a passing double-decker bus. Located in Bori Bunder, VT has been declared a Heritage Site.
A throbbing landmark of Mumbai city, VT Station was designed by FW Stevens for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Stevens had a penchant for experimenting with various styles of architecture, as is evident in a host on public buildings in Bombay. Atop the central dome stands the Roman goddess of prosperity, Progress. During her installation, she was struck down thrice by lightning and was reinstated thrice.
In the adjacent modern annexe reserved for long distance trains, there is a huge hall thronging with passengers and porters (commonly called coolies, and dressed in the traditional dhoti kurta, an attire typical of rural Maharashtra).
The entire complex throbs with commuters, pedestrians, cabs, buses, pan beedi shops and clothes stalls. Beware of pickpockets.