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Mumbai Holidays

Your Mumbai holiday

The seven islands that form the Mumbai metropolitan area were inhabited by fisherman from as early as 2000 BC.
For thousands of years the area was presided over by a series of Hindu dynasties. After a brief period under Islamic rule, the arrival of conquerors from Portugal in the 1500s marked the beginning of centuries of Western dominance over commerce and culture.
The port town was then named “Bom Bahia” (Good Bay), which evolved into Bombay after the British seized control in the 1660s.
The islands were leased to the East India Company for a paltry fee, and the city grew rapidly as it developed into a trading hub. The cotton industry spearheaded the economic boom in the 19th century, particularly at the time of the American Civil War (1861–65). During this period, some of the city’s most iconic landmarks were constructed.
Towards the end of that century, the first stirrings of an Indian independence movement were felt, with Bombay a focal point for dialogue and disruptive action.
It was the arrival point for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who would later be seen as the father of the independent nation, on his return to the country from South Africa in 1915. And then it was the departure point for the last British troops to leave India in 1948.
Since independence, the city has expanded outwards and upwards and in 1996 was renamed Mumbai. It has developed into a major international financial centre and the home of the world’s biggest film industry: Bollywood.

Top Mumbai attractions

  • Mumbai

    Gateway of India

    Built in the 1920s, this landmark took on symbolic significance when the last British personnel left the country by passing through the giant archway shortly after India declared independence.
    Looking out over the Arabian Sea, the gateway is also a symbol of how Mumbai’s modern development has been influenced heavily by international—and particularly Western—culture. The area is a hive of activity, with many locals joining the hordes of gawping tourists in the late afternoon.

    The Elephanta Caves

    A few kilometres off the Mumbai coast are the magnificent caves of Elephanta Island. Temples masterfully carved into the rock around 1,000 years ago depict the mighty Hindu God Shiva as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of the universe. Throughout the day, passenger boats to the island frequently leave from the mainland not far from the Gateway of India.

    Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

    Formerly known (and sometimes still referred to) as the Prince of Wales museum, this grand building was designed in the Indo-Saracenic style typical of British construction in the city around the turn of the 20th century. Inside the imposing structure is a vast collection of sculptures, paintings, and weapons that illustrate the fascinating history of the region.

    Haji Aji Mosque

    A legacy of the brief Islamic rule over Mumbai, this 15th-century mosque is built in the sea a few hundred metres off the city’s West coast and can only be reached at low tide by a walkway. Despite the awkward access, thousands of worshippers come to receive a blessing from the saint whose name the building takes.

    Banganga Tank

    Part of a temple built almost a millennium ago in honour of Shiva, the water in this tank here is considered as holy as that of the sacred Ganges River. Stand at the edge and gaze up at the shiny skyscrapers and apartment tower for a snapshot of Mumbai’s contrasting cultures.

    Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday

Popular Mumbai hotels on the map:

Mumbai highlights

  • Watch a cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium

    Watching cricket might be a serene activity in England, but here in India, where the sport is a national obsession, going to a match is an altogether different experience. More than 40,000 people can fit into the circular Wankhede Stadium, and when the national team is playing the atmosphere in the ground is electric. Check who’s playing before you leave home, as international matches generally sell out a long time in advance.

    Get into Bollywood

    Mumbai is synonymous with Bollywood, and a trip to Film City, the set of many films, is a great way to glimpse the inner workings of this massive industry. If you get lucky, you could even end up appearing in a Bollywood film yourself, as producers are often on the lookout for Westerners to play extras in the dancing scenes.
    Either way, make sure you watch one of the finished products before you leave India—the raucous audience is often as entertaining as the film.

    Browse the City Bazaars

    The real soul of Mumbai is found in the pulsating street markets. You’ll find huge areas dedicated to jewels, spices, antiques, flowers, and just about anything you might be persuaded to buy.
    Interesting highlights are the Anglo-centric Crawford Market and Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market), which once sold knock-off goods but now focus more on antique furniture. Whichever you choose, come prepared to bargain—it’s part of the culture and the only way to get a good price.

    Stroll along Chowpatty Beach

    Though a city of 14 million is never going to provide a beach holiday, a visit to Chowpatty is a must during a stay in Mumbai. The water is not enticing for a swim, but the atmosphere along the beachfront comes to life in the evenings, when families, groups of friends, and tourists gather for a variety of food and entertainment options.
    Here you can sample the best market food the city has to offer, including the Mumbai classic Bhelpuri (puffed rice, noodles, and vegetables in a chutney sauce).

Where to stay in Mumbai

  • There are thousands of sleeping options in this sprawling metropolis, so finding a hotel in Mumbai that fits with your holiday desires and budget isn’t a challenge.

    The grandest place to stay by far is the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (Apollo Bunder). Rubbing shoulders with the Gateway of India, this century-old monument to British Bombay will welcome you the same way it has all manner of dignitaries and celebrities. Rooms and common areas are regally adorned with wooden furnishings, art masterpieces, and fine crystal chandeliers. The hotel was one of the targets in the terrorist attacks against the city in 2008, but it fully reopened two years later as a symbol of resistance.

    Owned by the same group, but with a far more contemporary take on luxury is the Vivanta by Taj President Hotel. Even the basic rooms are immaculately appointed with a mixture of classic furniture and chic design—upgrade to the deluxe suite for a real taste of the good life. Vivanta’s six dining options, offering anything from Western Indian seafood dishes to Italian classics, come highly recommended.

    The ITC Grand Central Hotel ticks all the boxes as a top-end accommodation. The location and design are both excellent—little touches like plug sockets that accept US and European appliances are an example of the attention to detail that many hotels lack. This is a family-oriented place with a special VIK (very important kids) programme to keep the young ones entertained.

How to move around in Mumbai

  • Airport Arrival

    Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is a little over 30 km from the centre, but the journey can take up to two hours due to traffic congestion around the city. You can get a prepaid taxi or one with a meter from outside the terminal, but watch out for unlicensed taxis that charge exorbitant amounts.
    Note that the domestic terminal is a long way from the international one, and you’ll need to use the free shuttle service if going from one to the other.

    Getting Around

    Moving around Mumbai is not as complicated as it first appears—there are plenty of double-decker buses and taxis and a relatively efficient network of suburban trains. Everything is really cheap, but also extremely crowded—be patient, and keep a strong grip on your belongings.
    You could also consider a car hire in Mumbai, though be warned that driving in the city can be an exasperating, and potentially dangerous, affair.

    Vaccinations

    The whole of India carries an elevated malaria risk, and preventative treatment is necessary for travel here. Note that some malaria medication needs to be taken before travel and if you are taking pills, you should not think twice about seeking medical advice if you get sick after coming home.
    No other vaccinations are mandatory, but you should get injections for hepatitis (A+B) and typhoid if you are not already protected.

    Health and Hygiene

    In Mumbai, water from the tap should not be drunk or even used to brush your teeth. High-quality bottled water is cheap and readily available in India. In bars and restaurants, be careful about ordering drinks with ice cubes, or mixed with ice (lassis).
    Mild stomach problems are common for Western travellers to India, due to the big and sudden change in diet and weather. Stay rehydrated, and visit a doctor if your upset stomach lasts beyond two days.

    Safety and Security

    Most travellers to India do not suffer any problems. However, Mumbai is an enormous city with extremes of inequality, and street crime does inevitably exist. Western tourists stand out in crowds and could be targets for pickpockets and bag snatchers.

Mumbai restaurants

  • Rub shoulders with Mumbai’s upper crust at Khyber (145, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort). The raan, a whole leg of slow-cooked lamb, is the most famous dish at this top-end establishment, but any of the Northern Indian style curries on the extensive menu will leave you satisfied.

    Minimalist décor and modern art give Cream Centre (various, including Blue Heaven, Linking Road, Bandra) a youthful appearance. But this popular vegetarian chain has been selling channa bhutara (chickpeas and puffy bread) for half a century and is still going strong. Today’s menu is also full of inventive fusion dishes, incorporating flavours from Mexican, Lebanese, and Italian cuisine.

    For traditional Parsi cuisine—think Persian food prepared the Indian way—come to Ideal Corner (12, F/G, Hornby View, Gunbow Street, Fort). The meaty dishes are perfectly spiced and seasoned; combined with the restaurant’s cheerful atmosphere, they keep people coming back for more.

    Swati Snacks (248 Karai Estate, Tardeo Road) has recently undergone a major facelift, but thankfully the menu full of traditional vegetarian snacks hasn’t changed. You can try a range of local specialties, including panki chutni, savoury crepes wrapped in a parcel of banana leaves.

    Bang in the middle of the trendy Colaba area, Delhi Darbar (Colaba Causeway, SBS Road) stands out from the crowd for its phenomenal Mughlai food. You’ll recognise a lot of the dishes on the menu from curry houses back home, but you’ll still be blown away when you taste them as they are supposed to be prepared.

Health & Safety

  • Vaccinations

    The whole of India carries an elevated malaria risk, and preventative treatment is necessary for travel here. Note that some malaria medication needs to be taken before travel and if you are taking pills, you should not think twice about seeking medical advice if you get sick after coming home.
    No other vaccinations are mandatory, but you should get injections for hepatitis (A+B) and typhoid if you are not already protected.

    Health and Hygiene

    In Mumbai, water from the tap should not be drunk or even used to brush your teeth. High-quality bottled water is cheap and readily available in India. In bars and restaurants, be careful about ordering drinks with ice cubes, or mixed with ice (lassis).
    Mild stomach problems are common for Western travellers to India, due to the big and sudden change in diet and weather. Stay rehydrated, and visit a doctor if your upset stomach lasts beyond two days.

    Safety and Security

    Most travellers to India do not suffer any problems. However, Mumbai is an enormous city with extremes of inequality, and street crime does inevitably exist. Western tourists stand out in crowds and could be targets for pickpockets and bag snatchers.

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Cheap flight deals for your Mumbai holiday

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Departure:

London

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Mon, 27 Jun - Thu, 7 Jul

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