Welcome to Mumbai, welcome to the Gateway to India.
Mumbai’s status as the self proclaimed gateway to the whole of the country is less of a lofty claim and more of a geographical fact, with the city being located on the west coast of India and best approached from the water, allowing visitors to fully marvel at the Gateway of India stone arch that dates from the 1920s and welcomes you to these shores.
Northwest of the Gateway that proudly stands on Mumbai Harbour is Elephanta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site so named because of the stone statue of an elephant that sadly no longer guards the island. However, many other shrines, temples, and statues still remain for visitors to explore in the labyrinths of caves that dot the area.
If you are a shopper – and particularly if you are a bargainer – Mumbai is your Olympics. Street markets range from the Chor Market in the heart of Muslim Mumbai, which is overflowing with antiques ranging from trash to treasure, to specialized markets like the cloth market Mangaldas, an entire mini-town made up of lanes and lanes of fine cloth and the perfect place to have a new piece made for you.
If you need a break from the sometimes-overwhelming exuberance that is Mumbai, make for the Taj Mahal Hotel. This hotel doubles as the second most photographed building in the country and is one of the most iconic structures in Mumbai (though note: this is not the same building as the ancient Palace built for love in the north of the country). The hotel has important historical status in India – and it also serves an excellent afternoon tea, perfect for taking a mid-day break.
Particularly interesting times to visit might be during the religious festivals of Holi (March), Janmashtami (August), Ganesh Chaturthi (September), or Diwali (November).