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Tourist Places To Visit In Mumbai
The history of Mumbai records inhabitation far back to the Stone Ages, and later to the ancient tribal communities of Kolis and the Aagri. The archipelago of seven islands on which was built the city of Mumbai, was ruled by the Mauryans as early as the 3rd century, Satavanahas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, the Gujarat Sultanate and the Portuguese. By the end of the 17th century Mumbai had become a significant port centre trading spices and other commodities with the Arabian port towns of Mecca and Basra.
Today, the city of Mumbai is the entertainment, financial and commercial centre of the country and is also renowned for its ancient monuments, caves, forts, temples, cinema industry and a rare beautiful nature that all woo tourists through the year!
These are some of the most interesting places in Mumbai and we’ll give you a list of some of them.
Mumbai boasts of a number of forts, most of them built during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the British or the Portuguese. The forts were inevitable, a defence for the region against invasions through land, the mighty Sahyadris and sea. Some of the forts lie in partial ruins today, but history buffs or nature lovers should still pay a visit to them. The remnants of the Portugese Castella de Aguada (1640) in the suburbs of Bandra give a beautiful sight of the Arabian Sea, British built Worli Fort near Mahim Bay and Sewri Fort built by the Portuguese in 1600 with its high domed rooms and the roost of pink flamingos are just a tiny list of the forts scattered around Mumbai.
Mumbai gets its name from Mumbadevi, the guardian deity of the Kolis, the early inhabitants of Mumbai. According to legends, an eight armed goddess was sent by Brahma to fight the demon called Mumbaraka. The goddess routed the demon who before his death, requested that the Goddess may be called after him.
The original Mumbadevi temple that was built in 1675 at Bori Bunder was destroyed and the present temple was built in 1737 at Zaveri Bazaar, a crowded shopping locality. Mumbadevi temple is one of the most popular temples of Mumbai and locals as well as tourists make it a must visit.
Mumbadevi temple at Bhuleshwar is open from 5.00 am – 9.00 pm and is closed on Mondays.
St. Michael’s or San Miguel’s Church, locally known as Mahim Church is said to be the oldest Catholic Church in Mumbai. The Church was built by the Portuguese in 1534 and had undergone modifications till 1973, when the present day Church was built.
People of different faiths visit the Mahim Church for the Novena service that’s held every Wednesday, with the belief that a visit for nine Wednesdays would answer their prayers.
Mahim Church is located at Lady Jamshedji Road in Mahim West.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
The history of this heritage museum goes back to the early 1900s, when a public museum was founded and named after the Prince of Wales (King George V), who opened the foundation stone for the building in 1905. Built in Indo Saracenic style of architecture in 1909 by George Wittet, the museum sits in a beautiful landscaped garden.
Currently known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, the museum has an exemplary assortment of specimens collected from archaeological excavations, Indian miniatures and European paintings, sculptures, bronze and terracotta and ivory from Japan and China, ancient weapons, coins and textiles on display.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is in Mahatma Gandhi Road and is open from 10.15 am – 6.00 pm.
Siddhivinayak temple is one of the most noteworthy pilgrim places of Mumbai. The Ganesha idol was first consecrated in 1801 in a small shrine, but has now risen up to be one of the most favourite places of worship. Built of marble and pink granite, the temple has been built into a multiangular formation with six storeys, gold plated dome and has three entrances that lead to the sanctum sanctorum.
Check out the library on the fourth floor which has a number of books on religion, philosophy, medicine, engineering etc. The library is open for browsing.
Siddhivinayak temple is at Prabhadevi and the nearest railway station is Dadar station.
Gateway of India
A trip to Mumbai is never complete without a visit to the iconic Gateway of India. The ancient monument of Indo Saracenic style was built to honour the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in December 1911. The gateway has steps leading to the sea that was used as the main entrance of important dignitaries that chose to arrive at Mumbai by sea.
With its ceremonial arches and turrets, the heritage monument stood as a mute testimony not only to the arrival of the British through all the years of Colonial Rule in the country, but also to their exit from India with the passing of the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry in 1948.
Elephanta Caves on the island of Gharapuri or the land of caves, is an architectural wonder of ancient India. A narrow valley divides two hillocks that are scattered with cave temples that date back to the 5th – 6th century BC. The Elephanta Caves are monolithic rock cut temples for Shiva, whose carved sculptures can be seen in different forms.
Check out the 7 m high sculpture of a three headed Sadashiva or Trimurti at the entrance to the first cave, which is a masterpiece by itself. The Elephanta Caves that are maintained by the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can get to the Gharapuri island by ferry from the Gateway of India.
Haji Ali Dargah
At Worli, in the southern coast of Mumbai a causeway leads the tourist to a small islet about 500 m away, where sits the Haji Ali Dargah, the tomb to a wealthy merchant Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Bhukari of Uzbekisthan who gave up his worldly riches and travelled to India where he settled down in Mumbai to become a Sufi saint.
Legends say that Haji Ali Bhukari had instructed his followers that after his death, they should cast his shroud into the sea and build his tomb wherever the shroud was found floating. The Haji Ali Dargah was built where the shroud was found, draped on a mound of rocks jutting out of the waters.
Built of white marble in Indo-Islamic style of architecture, the Dargah is visited by pilgrims and tourists of all religions and faiths.
Mahalakshmi Temple is a beautiful seaside temple to the goddesses Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswathi. According to legends, the idols that were hidden in the sea off Worli Creek during Muslim invasion were retrieved during the construction of the connecting link between Worli and Malabar creek, and the shrine was subsequently built for the goddesses by around 1761 AD to 1771 AD.
The Mahalakshmi temple is bounded by the sea on the northern and western sides and the tranquillity of the place, broken only by the sounds of the waves is a charmer.
Mahalakshmi temple is in Bhulabhai Desai Road at the north of Malabar Hill.
The Jogeshwari Caves are said to be one of the oldest and largest cave temples of India. The cave temple was predominantly Buddhist in origin, but you do find sculptures of Hindu Divinity. A long fleet of steps lead into a large pillared hall with the idols of a Shiva linga, Ganesh, Hanuman and Goddess Jogeshwari. The 1,500 year old cave temple was discovered during the excavations of Ajantha and Ellora temples. The caves get frequent visitors during Shivratri and remain quite isolated the rest of the year, so you could explore the caves in peace.
The caves are in Jogeshwari, about 15 km from the heart of the city.