The opening of the Suez Canal heralded Mumbai’s elevation to gateway of the subcontinent. Today the city is India’s economic powerhouse and home of the world’s largest film industry. The trappings of this success can be seen everywhere but juxtapose sharply with the notorious slums. As India’s most westernised and dynamic city, Mumbai may be bursting with people but is a fascinating place to explore - the colonial architecture particularly is India’s best.
Mumbai’s collection of architecture is India’s most eclectic, but it is its monumental colonial edifices that are particularly impressive. The Fort area of the city is where you’ll find the magnificent dome, spire and column-abundant Victorian Neo-Gothic public buildings, such as Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus (formerly Victoria terminus), University of Mumbai and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel to name a very few. Mumbai’s most recognisable landmark the Gateway to India, which commemorates George V’s royal visit in 1911, is also close by. Mumbai also has an incredible amount of Art Deco architecture – wander along the Marine Drive promenade to see the exquisite 1920s apartment blocks.
Mumbai is home to some of India’s best museums and galleries and is known as a centre of the arts. Wander the traditional arts district of Kala Ghoda and visit the National Museum of Modern Art to get to grips with the current Indian art scene before learning about folk and decorative traditions at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. The city’s biggest and best museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), exhibits items from across India including sculpture, porcelain, miniature paintings and weapons, whilst the city’s smallest museum, Mani Bhavan, is dedicated to Ghandi and his philosophies and housed in a building in which he used to stay.
Bollywood produces about 1000 Hindi films a year making it the world’s biggest film industry. Both Mumbai and India as a whole is film crazy so heading to a cinema hall to enjoy a Bollywood blockbuster is a quintessential Indian experience, and where better to do it than Mumbai? It is also possible to visit a studio where you can watch filming, admire the elaborate sets and learn about the history of the industry.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.