About the huge India City of Mumbai which is located in Maharashtra State, Western India.
Starting from small fishing villages situated on seven low lying islands within the mouth of the Ulhas River, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has grown into one of the largest and most populous cities in the world. Although the city is considered the most wealthy in India more than 60 percent of it's
population live in slum conditions which are mostly but not exclusively found to the north of the city.
You can clearly see disgusting slums which lie right up to Mumbai's airport perimeter when landing for instance - where more than 400,000 people live. On the other hand in the south especially along Marine Drive there are beautiful old colonial buildings, several large grass areas often used for cricket and of course lots of fresh sea air to be enjoyed. If visiting the city for a few days then certainly staying somewhere near Marine Drive is by far the nicest
option however you will certainly pay for the privilege as far as hotel prices are concerned. Marine Drive and immediate area is also well patrolled by police and therefore at least this part is within one of the few cities in India that you might feel reasonably comfortable about walking around in the evening.
Getting to Mumbai - flights in and out - using the railways.
Mumbai's principle airport is called
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and this serves a multitude of domestic and international airlines. There are two terminals at the airport with T1 handling domestic flights and T2 handling the international flights - if transiting you have to take a 20 minute or so free shuttle bus between terminals. There are plans to combine everything into a new Terminal 2 area at some point.
The easiest way to get from the airport into Mumbai itself especially if you have luggage is by taxi - the system is a pre-paid method at the booth by the passenger exit. You are given a receipt which shows your taxi number so simply go outside and the drivers will identify your taxi. You really do not want to get involved with any of the very "helpfull" touts who may well pester you
before you reach the pre-paid booth by the way. Getting from your hotel back to the airport is a matter of negotiation and remember when haggling to be clear on how many people you are talking about and how much luggage you have - note the drivers will probably charge this journey as a there and back trip unless you are already close to the airport. Also note that the current road system
particularly near to the airport terminals is really poor - even at quiet times of the day it can be very congested with traffic. For instance from as far south as Marine Drive you could easily need 90 minutes for this journey.
Mumbai's Central Railway Station is very conveniently located within the city at address Dr Dadabhai Naoroji Rd, Dhobi Talao - the station code is BCT. Long distance direct destinations include Ahmedabad, Nizamuddin (Delhi), New Delhi, Jaipur, Amritsar and Indore.
The original name for the station was Victoria Terminus and the station building - which was built in 1887 - is one of the most beautiful structures you will find anywhere in the world. Because of it's central location getting too and from the station into various parts of the city is simple with a multitude of buses and taxis always available. The station has more than 20
platforms and as is always the case with Indian railway stations, total chaos inside. Therefore on arrival to catch a train unless you are familiar with it all it really is necessary to use one of the railway porters who will easily find your platform and carriage.
Getting around in Mumbai - taxis - autos - walking!.
Auto-rickshaws are not allowed to operate or even go into the Marine Drive i.e. southern part of Mumbai
however their are seemingly thousands of yellow and black cabs around. These taxis can naturally be found outside of most hotels and also tend to congregate in groups at nearbye road junctions - and often want more money especially for foreign tourists. As such they do not compete for fares so if you haggle with a driver and are not happy it is pointless trying with another in the same
group. Flagging down a taxi is usually the best way as you are more likely to be firstly charged on a meter and secondly not victimized for daring to not be Indian.
Taxi driver are quite happy to work out a deal for a couple of hours tour round the city to various places you indicate and once you get going are often as not very helpful and suggestive of things to see - i.e. once they get
passed their greed ethic.
Looking around South Mumbai is also pretty good by just going off walking - there are loads of beautiful old buildings to look at - several parks around where almost certainly some local cricket will be played - and so on. Marine Drive itself is a wide walking and cycling well surfaced paved stretch which goes for some kilometres alongside the beach and sea.
In the late afternoon an enourmous amount of people turn up there and just wander up and down enjoying the fresh air or just sit around on the wall looking at the waves.
Places to eat in Mumbai - Churchgate area. One of the things about the better hotels in this area is that their room rates are very high - and often as not their restaurant prices follow the same trend. If staying for a few days sightseeing in Mumbai you may decide to treat yourself to a good hotel. Possibilities are the Taj Mahal Hotel and Tower which is
only yards away from the Gateway to India or the Hotel Marine Plaza in Churchgate which faces onto Back Bay and is within walking distance of the amazing Wankhede Cricket Stadium. Both of these have restaurants but they are pretty expensive to use - especially the Taj. Fortunately there are a growing number of restaurants in the area so you can go for a walkabout round the back-streets and find a variety of
far cheaper food options from pizza outlets (which tend to offer more options than just pizzas) through to places which offer complete menus.