Mumbai (Bombay) – “1950’s London on acid…”

Posted: February 13, 2012 in 2011 Winter - India, India

The lonely planet describes the city by way of a rich and colourful set of cooking instructions,

Measure out: one part Hollywood; six parts traffic; a bunch of rich power-moguls; stir in half a dozen colonial relics (use big ones); pour in six heaped cups of poverty; add a smattering of swish bars and restaurants (don’t skimp on quality here for best results); equal parts of mayhem and order; as many ancient bazaars as you have lying around; a handful of Hinduism; a dash of Islam; fold in your mixture with equal parts India; throw it all in a blender on high (adding generous helpings of pollution to taste) and presto: Mumbai.

Or as a weiry backpacker put it,

I prefer Mumbai to Delhi, cleaner with less litter, more interesting and fewer people p**sing in the street, but it does smell of fish ALL the time you know…”

It is also describes as ‘London on acid’ which is my personal favourite and it isn’t hard to see why! Although set in a wonderful sub-tropical setting, it could be 1950’s London, with colonial banks, Art Deco facades to residential blocks, Victoria station (which is the spitting image of Paddington or St Pancras), offices, designer shops and red double decker buses.

My walking tour of the city took me to,

Gateway of India

A yellow basalt Gateway of India arch faces out to Mumbai Harbour, built to commemorate the 1911 royal visit of King George V. It was completed in 1924: ironically, the gateway’s British architects used it just 24 years later to parade off their last British regiment, as India marched towards independence. Giant-balloon sellers, photographers, beggars and touts rub shoulders with Indian and foreign tourists, creating a vibrant bazaar feel.

Colaba Causeway

he unofficial headquarters of Mumbai’s tourist scene, a bustling district packed with street stalls, markets, bars and budget to midrange lodgings.

Victoria Train Station

The train terminal building, designed by Frederick Stevens – completed in 1887, is a combination  of Victorian, Hindu and Islamic styles mixed together to form an imposing, Daliesque structure of buttresses, domes, turrets, spires and stained-glass windows.

Bombay University

Built to ape a  15th-century French-gothic masterpiece, was constructed by Gilbert Scott – whose other buildings include London’s St Pancras Station.

Prince of Waled Museum

This neo-Gothic building 1848, in the ‘boom years’ for construction, inspired by a German castle.

St Thomas’s Cathedral

Opened in 1923  it was also built George Wittet, who also did the Gateway of India, to commemorate the visit of King George V’s visit back in 1905 – while he was still Prince of Wales – is a fusion of Islamic, Hindu and British architecture displaying a mix of dusty exhibits from all over India.

Marine Drive

A pedestrian walkway built on land reclaimed from Back Bay in 1920, stretching from Nariman Point past Chowpatty Beach to the foot of Malabar Hill… a LONG walk in the sun!

Chowpatty Beach

A walk along the beach through the many beachside stalls you can part take in some bhelpuri or even get a head massage.

Malabar Hill

Mumbai’s most exclusive neighbourhood of sky-scratchers and private palaces for the city’s social and economic climbers. In the centre of the exclusivity is the,

Banganga Tank is a precinct of serene temples, bathing pilgrims, meandering, traffic-free streets and picturesque old dharamsalas (pilgrims rest houses). The wooden pole in the centre of the tank is the centre of the earth – according to legend Lord Ram created the tank by piercing the earth with his arrow. The classical music Banganga Festival is held here in January.


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