The City of Slums and Skyscrapers

Contrasting, isn’t it? Welcome to MUMBAI!!
(a Miniature version of Wikipedia pages)
The capital of state Maharashtra, sometimes dotingly addressed as – Aamchi Mumbai (our Mumbai in Marathi), is home to a population of about 20.7 million as of 2016! A motley of multilingual and multicultural communities Mumbai is probably the truest form of Cosmopolitanism in India. So what makes this city different from others and special? Let’s take a look. 🙂

The facade of Mumba Devi temple, Zaveri Bazar, South Mumbai

It is Learned that the city derived its name from the goddess Mumba (patron of agri – salt collectors and kolis – fisherfolk) and aai (mother in Marathi). Once an archipelago of seven islands namely – Bombay Island, Colaba, Little Colaba, Mazagaon, Mahim, Parel and Worli Mumbai, it is also nicknamed as ‘The City of Seven Islands’.

The golden era of Indian history marks the inception of contemporary Mumbai architechture.
Beginning with Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha, to the indigenous clans of Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas and finally Silharas, the successive reign of distinct dynasties claims credit for the various excavations that presently adorn the city.

The Gujarat Sultanate‘s patronage, led to the construction of many mosques, most prominent being the Haji Ali Dargah in Worli.

The Haji Ali Dargah, Worli

Later growing apprehensive of the dominant power of the Mughal emperor in the Indian subcontinent, Sultan Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate was obliged to sign the Treaty of Bassein with the Portuguese Empire. On gaining dominion The Portuguese coined the city, Bombaim and thus came to existence the several churches and fortifications around it.

Now highlighted in various Bollywood movies these forts and churches are the ultimate tourist destinations.

During the British invasion and the transfer of the English East India Company headquarters, the city eventually became witness to the establishment of the Bombay Presidency and coalition of the seven islands into a single landmass by the Hornby Vellard project.
India’s first passenger railway line was established thereafter with the construction of the Victoria terminus(after the then reigning Queen) which is the present day Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and headquarters of the Central Railways, housing both long-distance inter-state and local commuter trains of the Suburban Railway.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai

The opening of the Suez Canal, transformed Bombay into one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port (aka Nhava Sheva) was commissioned with a view to decongest Bombay Harbour and to serve as a hub port for the city, post independence.
Be it the Indian independence movement, the Quit India Movement or the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny, this city has corroborated it all!

Ariel View of Nariman Point

The Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade were reclaimed and developed.

Cuffe Parade, nightlife

The Indian National Congress, also known as the Congress Party was born in Mumbai.

Many of India’s numerous conglomerates and five of the Fortune Global 500 companies are based in Mumbai. Facilitated by the presence of the Central bank of the country, the two indian Stock Exchanges and financial sector regulators Mumbai aptly is the financial and commercial capital of the country.

Mumbai has the second largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world after Miami and has by far the largest number of skyscrapers in India. Take a look!

Yet not all is hunky dory in this city.
Where on one hand where there’s endless Luxury and Riches, there also lies poverty and need.
A stone’s throw away from the spectacular Bandra Kurla Complex, the new financial hub lies Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum. Formed during the British colonial era, it is strategically located between the city’s two main suburban railway lines. 300,000 to about a million people reside here.

Surprisingly, it is also the heart of small-scale industries in Mumbai boasting an annual turnover of approximately US $665 million.

Mumbai is surrounded by the Arabian Sea. Thus beaches!
Chowpatty, Juhu, Versova and Aksa beaches are to name a few, with only the first two fit for swimming. Walking on the sidelines of the shore and basking in the magical hues of fiery red and soothing blue, one can never forget the memories created by these glorious sunsets.

A theme park and amusement centre Essel World is situated close to Gorai Beach. It includes Asia’s largest theme water park, Water Kingdom.

Bollywood – the sobriquet of Hindi cinema is based in Mumbai. Researches say in 2011, over 3.5 billion tickets were sold across the globe which in comparison is 900,000 tickets more than Hollywood. All for the love of movies! ❤
Film City, the integrated film studio complex, has several recording rooms, gardens, lakes, theaters and grounds that serve as the venue of many Bollywood film shootings. A visit to mumbai is incomplete without a tour of the Celebrity Residences across Bandra extending towards Carter Road, Pali Hill and Juhu.

Almost all Western and Indian festivals like Diwali, Holi, Eid, Christmas, Navratri, Good Friday, Dussera, Moharram, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja and Maha Shivratri are celebrated here with the most highlighted Lalbaghcha Raja visarjan ceremony during Ganesh Chaturthi.

The Visarjan (immerse in water) ceremony of the famous LalBaughcha Raja (Lord Ganesha)

Indians love Cricket and Mumbai is where it all began. The first ever test match was hosted at the Bombay Gymkhana and subsequently the international Brabourne and Wankhede Stadiums. The experience of a live match is one of its kind!

The internation Wankhede Stadium

With its iconic black and yellow Premier Padmini taxis and the red double-decker BEST buses flocking the roads, one may consider Mumbai as one of the most congested and busiest cities. Yet there is something magical about it. Take a ride through the Marine Drive or the Worli Sea Link at night and you’ll know why!

And now some sensational insight.
Mafia and Mumbai Underworld, the organized crime network of the city has played a part too. Riots and terrorist attacks have marked their presence. Smuggling, illegal construction financing, bootlegging and gambling with a mix of criminal and islamic terrorist groups ranking in Interpol’s wanted list, Mumbai has seen them all. Many of the Bollywood movies have been inspired by their stories.

Thus a potpourri of historical events, spectacular sites, glamorous lifestyle and notorious scandals, full with promises of umpteen possibilities for the Young and old alike Mumbai is a dream city for many!

[Image Credit : Wikipedia and a few pictures that i’ve taken during my trip to Mumbai]

4 thoughts on “The City of Slums and Skyscrapers

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