When to fly
The weather from September to April makes this the best time to book flights to Mumbai. If you want to experience a big event, come for the Ganesh Chaturthi, a ten-day Hindu festival in August/September.
Holi is another major festival of the Indian culture and is celebrated throughout the nation on the full moon day in the month of March. Look for a cheap flight and experience the electric atmosphere as bright colours fill the air in Mumbai’s streets and villages, as traditionally individuals celebrate Holi by pouring coloured water over one another. The Holi festival in Mumbai will bring happiness, prosperity and peace to everyone involved, locals and travellers, as it is believed to be on the friendliest and fun-filled festival throughout India. When partaking in Holi, it is advisable to wear disposable clothing as you will finish the celebrations as a multicoloured masterpiece.
The monsoons and summer heat make June through September the low season.
Mumbai, the vibrant capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra, is the largest city in the country and home to the Bollywood film industry.
India's financial capital can intimidate the first-time visitor, so the best way to overcome this is by walking through Mumbai’s neighbourhoods, interacting with the locals and just getting immersed in its wonderful sights, sounds and smells. The best way to begin touring the colonial city is at the Gateway of India which was built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. From there most tourists take boat trips to Elephanta Island, where holy temples were carved out of rock between 450 and 740 AD. Another day trip is to the northern suburb of Borivli home of the Buddhist Kanheri Caves which were once used for meditation by the monks during the seventh century AD. Travellers coming off flights to Mumbai in search of a little more excitement needn’t look far, the glitzy restaurants and bars are filled with Bollywood stars and well-heeled Mumbaiians partying till the wee hours of the morning.
There is some superb colonial architecture in Mumbai, such as the UNESCO Heritage railway station of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, previously known as Victoria Terminus, and the High Court. Nearby, Marine Drive has many Art Deco style buildings, such as the Regal Cinema. Also in this region of South Mumbai are several museums and art galleries, such as the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, previously known as the Prince of Wales Museum. The Nehru Centre is home to the excellent Nehru Centre Art Gallery and Nehru Science Centre.
Mumbai has some nice green areas amidst the concrete, such as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Hanging Gardens on Malabar Drive and the Mumbai Port Trust Garden. There are also several temples which make pleasant excursions, including the Global Vipassana Pagoda and Hare Krishna temples.
Mumbai has a tropical climate with periods of high humidity, though the coastal location keeps temperatures lower than many areas of the country. Average daytime temperatures only fluctuate a few degrees throughout the year, from about 25°C December to March to about 30°C in April to June, before dropping slightly again in summer. Flying to Mumbai during June to September is not recommended, however, because of the high rainfall at this time.Getting downtown from the airportThe easiest way to reach the city centre from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), unless being picked up by a hotel, is by prepaid taxi. There are several booths offering prepaid fares. Avoiding rush hour, visitors could also travel by taxi to Vile Parle Station and then catch a train to the centre.
Getting around Mumbai
Black and yellow taxis, branded taxis and auto-rickshaws are handy for travelling around the city, though auto-rickshaws are only available in certain areas and not recommended for longer journeys. Buses are typically crowded but do cover a large network. The train network is also extensive and special tourist tickets allow travellers to sit in first class compartments – rush hour should be avoided.
Mumbai insider information
- The Gateway of India was built to commemorate King George V and Queen Mary’s visit in 1911. It is traditionally the first thing that visitors to Mumbai see and it was the last thing the British troops passed through when they left India in 1948.
- The Prince of Wales Museum of Western India was built in the 1900s to commemorate a visit by the Prince of Wales. It has a fine collection of miniature paintings and a Maritime Heritage gallery.
- The Haji Ali Mosque houses the tomb of the Muslim Sufi saint. The mosque lies out at sea and can only be reached at low tide. At high tide the causeway is submerged and it looks as if the mosque is floating.
- Kamala Nehru Park sits at the top of Malabar Hill. The park extends over 3300 square metres and has beautiful views of the city, Chowpatty Beach and Marine Drive.
- Pherozsha Mehta Gardens, dating from 1881, are known locally as the Hanging Gardens. Look out for the fun animal-shaped hedges.
- The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (or Borivili National Park) covers nearly 9,000 hectares. It houses more than 1000 species of plants and 40 types of mammals as well as native birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish and insects.
- Chowpatty Beach in the evening when locals come out to stroll and the hawkers and entertainers buzz around. It’s a good place to pick up dinner to go, especially the local favourite - Bhelpuri (puffed rice and semolina with chutneys served with deep fried wheat bread)
- Crawford Market dates from colonial times and is popular for fruit, vegetable and meat.