Published: October 13th 2007October 9th 2007
I arrived in Mumbai at 1:00pm and after an hour’s ride to the hotel, I checked in, dropped my stuff, and headed straight to the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s most famous landmark. The Gateway was the first sight to greet travelers to the Indian shores during the days of the British Raj and was also, ironically, the exit point for British troops after India gained independence in 1947. Built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, but in fact the King and Queen were greeted by a mock cardboard and plastiche structure. The actual Triumphal Arch wasn’t completed until 1924. Only very special people are allowed inside the gateway (not even Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were allowed inside on their recent visit), but you can walk around it if you can survive the hawkers. I went back after dark to take a few more photos. It was seemingly safer than the day time as there were few hawkers and lots of tourist police around.
I did a whirlwind tour of Mumbai in to see a few of the highlights in a short period of time. I saw:
- The largest outdoor laundry in Asia which was impressive. There were hundreds of washtubs and men working in them washing and rinsing clothes. Everything gets tagged and, allegedly, very little goes astray. There were clothes hanging everywhere for blocks!
- Koli fisherman at work
- Crabs playing on the blocks set up along Marine Drive to help control surf damage
- A Jian temple
- The house where the Tatas, a very wealthy, prominent, and philanthropic family, live
- The Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill
- A great view of Chowpatty Beach, the city’s most popular promenade and the southernmost of Mumbai’s beaches, although there’s no swimming as the water is too polluted
- A great view of Marine Drive, known as the “Queen’s Necklace” after the glittering string of streetlights lining the road
- The Parsi Towers of Silence (yellow for men and red for women). Parsis believe that the elements of earth, water, air, and fire are sacred and should not be defiled. They place their dead in the tall, cylindrical stone towers to be picked clean by vultures, an environmentally friendly way of disposing of the dead. There is a concern as the vulture population in Mumbai is decreasing.
- The Mani Bhavan, Gandhi’s home while he was in Mumbai between 1917 and 1941
- The Victoria Terminus, the most impressive example of Victorian Gothic architecture in India. Completed in 1888 and named to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, it is now the headquarters of the Central Railway with over 1,000 trains and 2,000,000 passengers passing through the station each day
- The Flora Fountain, erected in 1869, and the quintessential icon of Mumbai
It was a long day and I was pooped after this. I walked back to my hotel and relaxed on the terrace overlooking the Arabian Sea while enjoying a beer and some chips. For dinner, I had a “quarter pounder with cheese”, although it was an Indian version with one ground chicken and one ground lamb patty. It was no McDonald's QPWC, but it wasn’t bad and it hit the spot.
My hotel is quite nice and almost exactly as advertised! The wireless internet connection isn’t free and costs 700 purees for 24 hours so I’ll wait and post at the end of my time in Mumbai.
This evening, Housekeeping brought me
a chocolate bar as an evening snack!
Tomorrow’s itinerary: Elephanta Island, located 6km (one hour by boat) off Mumbai’s shore and home to the 6th century AD Elephanta cave temples then a wander down the Colaba Causeway
There are more photos below