India’s most dynamic, cosmopolitan and crowded city home to billionaire tycoons living in posh area’s with the some of the highest real estate prices in the world and the poor living in some of the largest slum establishments around the world alike, Mumbai is definitely like no other city in the world. The crowds and chaos of this city can bewilder even the savviest of travelers. Mumbai is India at its most contradictory, with its sharp contrasts: it can be aggressively modern yet some parts deeply rooted with the traditional bordering on medieval, from glamorous to rough-edged and raw…quintessentially Indian.
Rated on of the Places of a Lifetime by National Geographic, Mumbai is all about the experiences and not the sights it has to offer.
Here are 10 Things that Make Mumbai the City it is –
1) It’s Bizarre Names
Of the 5 major tongues and Indian languages (English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu) and countless dialects the people of this cosmopolitan city speak, Mumbai happens to have the most Bizarre names of areas and roads across the city. They probably came about from a mix of tongues along with the lousy British pronunciation but mean absolutely nothing today.
They just sound cool. Mumbai is made up by these weird and evocative names like Apollo Bunder which sounds like a colossal mistake to Byculla something that may have come from the word Bicycles to Breach Candy, Matunga, Dombivali, Vile Parle…there’s no making sense of any of them and the list goes on.
2) Shopping in the streets of Mumbai
Mumbai’s streets, corners and pavements are lined with shops and virtually everything is available in its bazaars and markets. It’s one of those rare cities where you can buy some of the most expensive designer brands at plush-looking shops like Pierre Cardin and Louis Vitton and just a stone’s throw away you can buy cheap knock offs of the same and more at a cheap roadside bazaar.
From Colaba Causeway to Chor Bazaar there are shoe shops galore selling everything under the sun from food stuff, handicrafts, faux jewelry, silver jewelry, export over runs to shoes, bags and apparel there’s something for everyone.
3) The World’s Largest and Most Expensive Residence as well as the Largest Slum in Asia in the same city
Talk about extremes. Mumbai houses (pun intended) the World’s Largest and Most Expensive Residence estimated at close to $2 billion. Yes, you read right that’s BILLON and not million. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance and India’s Richest Resident is building himself the world’s most expensive home called- Antilia Residence which is near completion in downtown Mumbai.
But while the city is said to have more millionaires per square mile than Manhattan in the United States, 55% of Mumbai’s population lives in slums and it also has the distinction of housing Asia’s largest slum Dharavi.
4) True Indian Food
For all that the world knows about Indian cuisine, it’s as if, say, Italian food were still defined by spaghetti and meatballs. Restaurants outside India tend to serve only Mughlai food from the north: curries, kebabs, naan, you know the drill. Even in India, places catering to tourists usually stick to the tested northern formula.
Mumbai is a resounding exception. While it lies in the state of Maharashtra where you’d expect to sample Maharashtrian Cuisine everywhere, but you’ll find Mumbai restaurants serving regional dishes from across the country—Goan food, Kerala seafood, Hyderabadi Biryani, Rajasthani cuisine, Mughlai Cusine to Chaat and South Indian Dosas. Mumbai truly dishes up the best sampling of Indian Cuisine.
5) The duck that isn’t a duck
Mumbai is defined by the sea. The original community of Koli fishermen still ply their trade at Sassoon Dock, laying out racks of prized Bombay duck to dry in the blistering sun. “Bombay duck” is not in fact, a waterfowl, but a foot-long, slimy-looking fish, more accurately known as bombil.
The dried, salted fish are fried and served whole, and have an alternately crisp and mushy texture, reminiscent of the best soft-shell crab. Not a smell or favor to everyone’s taste buds, but those who like it can’t get enought of it.
6) The Six Sigma certified Mumbai Dabbawallas
Clad in dhotis and gandhi caps with large trays of steel tiffins scurrying in andout of Victoria Terminus (CST), Mumbai’s busiest railway station are the unassuming dabbawalas of the city delivering lunch tiffins to lakhs of people across the city.
More than 175,000 boxes are transported every day in the city. From picking up the tiffins from door to door -the point of origin to sorting out the tiffins to transportation through the busy Mumbai traffic, Local trains and bicycles, till delivering the right tiffin to the right person, it all moves quite punctually without any delay and the tiffins are delivered by around 12:30p.m. The Dabbawala is a common sight for Mumbaikars.But their precision and efficiency has been a case study for management students as well as gained acknowledgment from Prince Charles, Richard Branson among many others.
7) The Historical Sights Within the City
A melting pot of religions, customs, people and culture Mumbai is best described as a place where traditional meets the modern in extremes. The City’s historical sights are within the city and an everyday part of it’s residents lives. From the Gateway of India to the Jehangir Art gallery you won’t have to travel outside the city to visit its past and present glories.
8) It’s the Land of Bollywood
Mumbai is known as the city where dreams come true esp. for those pursuing their career in Bollywood. The hub of the film making industry in India and the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood is a phenomenon in itself. The booming Bollywood industry constitutes of 250 studios in Mumbai alone.
The most popular film studio, Mumbai film City is situated in Goregaon East, in the vicinity of Aarey Colony.