We arrived in Mumbai early in the morning and walked out of the train station expecting the usual onslaught of drivers and tour guides offering their services. Either we were too early for them or they actually weren’t that excited by us?!
Mumbai is India’s financial capital with money mainly coming in from international businesses, and feels upmarket in comparison to Delhi. Taxi’s, not auto rickshaws, dominate the southern areas, and the horizon is dotted with huge skyscrapers and international hotels. The picture is not all rosy though, with 60% of Mumbai’s population still living in slums.
After dumping our bags we headed out onto the streets, still without hassle, and admired Mumbai’s mix of Portuguese and colonial architecture. Starting at the “Gateway to India” we followed a well walked trail, which took us past many of Mumbai’s key sights.
The trail ended outside a beautiful Art Deco styled cinema. Where better to watch a Bollywood movie (and take a break from the relentless heat), than in the Bollywood epicentre of India? Khoobsurat is the latest film to be produced by Anil Kapoor and has most of the ingredients you would expect to find in a Bollywood movie. We would however have liked to see more big dance numbers! However, with tickets costing only £1.50 each we weren’t complaining…
The following day we took a ferry across to Elephanta Island. The island contains a network of caves, which house impressive carvings of various Hindu gods. The carved panels and statues were impressive, though there wasn’t much to see beyond the main cave. However, we thought it was worthwhile even if just for the boat trip. Looking back at Mumbai harbour from the sea gives you a really good feel of what it would have been like to have arrived by ship.
We spent the early evening walking along marine drive, and watched the sun go down over the city. It has been great to be able to sit and watch the world go by without being asked if we need help, or if we mind having our picture taken, or if we would like to go to somebody’s shop. To finish off a perfect evening we had a cheeky beer in Leopolds, made famous by the book Shantaram.
The morning of our final day was spent exploring the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalayan Museum (formally the Prince of Wales Museum). Housing exhibits from all over India it is a really interesting place and the complementary audio tour gives you a much better understanding of the key artefacts. This evening we head out to Goa on a sleeper train, where we are both looking forward to some chill time on the famed Goan beaches!