Mumbai is a city that cannot be truly and justly laid down in words and pictures. You have to see it with your own eyes to grasp the magic of this city. From lanes and lanes full of street food stalls to multi-storied vintage restaurants, from the biggest mall in the country to roadside shopping areas (which, by the way, sport the latest fashion trends even before they reach the stores), from age-old art museums to walls painted with graffiti, Mumbai has it all. Temples, churches, mandirs, gurudwaras, this city leaves no one unsatisfied. And here’s why you should visit Mumbai at least once in your lifetime:
- The History
The ever-moving metropolis Mumbai was once called Bombay, until the year 1996. Known to have existed since the Stone Age, Mumbai is essentially the assimilation of seven islands into one. It has existed and bloomed under several indigenous empires such as the Islamic, the Portuguese and the British, which is precisely why you see where those dynasties have touched Mumbai in some way or other. Haji Ali dargah in Mahim has been steady since 1931, amongst harsh, beautiful waves of the Arabian Ocean. The St. Andrews Church in Bandra, St. Micheal Church in Mahim and many more of the same have existed for centuries now. The most visible influence was of the English, who built monumental structures all over Mumbai such as the Victoria Terminus Station which is now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, St. Xavier’s College, the Gateway of India, Flora Fountain and many more similar architectural masterpieces that can only be described as works of art. The history of the city is palpable through every nook and corner and every inch of air this city breathes and takes you on a cultural tour of the biggest metropolis in this country.
- The Cinema
Mumbai and Bollywood are two sides of the same coin, you cannot mention one without the other. Mumbai is the hub of the Hindi film industry, which is also the biggest and most noteworthy film industry on this planet, and that is no mean feat. So it is almost obvious that Mumbai is also home to literally thousands of movie theatres that display not only Bollywood but every other film industry projects on its screens. Mumbai’s, and India’s culture in art, dance, music and drama are preserved in these films and brought to us through the delightful medium that is cinema. All those whispers in the air about spotting all your favourite actors and actresses on the streets or in a restaurant are all true. The biggest names in Indian cinema including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Dharmendra, Akshay Kumar and so much more, all have their residences in Mumbai, so it's natural you spot them once in a while on its streets, in all their galore. If that is not reason enough to visit Mumbai, I don’t know what is.
- The Street Food
What is Mumbai, if not a magnificent spectacle of street food? Most people have only heard of the omniscient vada pav when it comes to Mumbai, but this city can boast of one of the richest street food cultures in India. You name a cuisine, you’ll be sure to find a corner of this city that will have it. If you’re one for the pani puris, bhajiyas, biryanis, Chinese and what not, CST’s Khau Galli is where you can find everything in a 10 feet radius, including fresh fruits, milkshakes and juices of every imaginable flavour. However, if you’re a hardcore foodie who would happily spend their entire month’s salary lavishing on the Mughlai food during Iftar, Mohammed Ali Road is your heaven. Full of mouthwatering aromas exuding from countless varieties of kebabs, tandooris, authentic biryanis and exquisite desserts, this area is flooded from people of all cultures during Ramzan. Apart from these, almost every street in Mumbai has its own delicacy to boast of- from Kanda pohe to mini medu vadas to frankies to chocolate sandwiches. Mumbai is your mecca if you love gorging your heart out with a plate in your hand and a pani puri in other, and this is something you definitely shouldn’t miss.
- The Nightlife
Who amongst us hasn’t heard of Mumbai’s infamous nightlife? In the city that never sleeps, the people, or Mumbaikars as we like to be known, never stop either. Especially when it comes to partying. Mumbai is home to a very large number of nightclubs, bars, lounges, and cafes, in addition to a huge variety of restaurants that cater to all your tastes, from extremely local to extravagantly global. Whatever your mood may be, be it for a night for bingeing on your favorite drinks or a quiet romantic dinner at a fine dining restaurant, a stand-up comedy show by India’s biggest comedians to an evening of swaying your hips to the latest tunes, Mumbai has it all. Whatever your poison is, whatever your addiction is, Mumbai will indulge you, no questions asked. And the best part is, Mumbai will find you a place that fits your pocket. Here, nightlife doesn’t translate to spending wads of money. Here, nightlife can simply mean sipping hot tea and munching chana or garam at 4 am at Marine Drive and catching the first morning local back home.
- The Beaches
Mumbai is an island, is surrounded by water on all sides. This is the reason it is home to a vast number of water bodies- lakes, rivers and beaches. Of all three, beaches are the most sought after locations in the city. And this is not for no reason. Mumbai’s beaches are known far and wide, either for their serenity or the constant hustle and bustle that is a reflection of the city itself. Juhu Chowpatty and Girgaon Chowpatty are especially known for their tradition of many, many years of serving the most delicious and a humongous variety of food to games and toys for little children (not exclusively, of course). This food ranges from the quintessential pav bhaji to delicious goals to over 20 varieties of kulfis. Marine Drive is another widely visited attraction for locals and tourists alike, a stretch along the coast of Mumbai, facing the Arabian Sea. Sunsets here are a sight to behold. On the other hand, places like Manori Island, Madh Island are known for their peace and quiet, known as places one visits to catch a cup of tea all by themselves while blowing bubbles into the sunset over the horizon.
Now, do you not want to drop everything you’re doing and book a one-way ticket to the city of dreams? I know I do.