Mumbai: India’s commercial centre is home to Bollywood, billionaires, the country’s largest slum population, fashion, film, and skyscrapers. This is a city of contrast and complexity—palaces stand next to slums; ancient caves, colonial buildings, museums, and temples stand alongside ultramodern corporate buildings housing an array of businesses. There is no shortage of places to explore and businesses to get to know. There is no shortage of street food to taste, and in one of the world’s most populated cities, no shortage of people to meet. A visit to Mumbai is sure to be packed with possibility, opportunity, and excitement.
Location: A major city with major connections
Mumbai is located on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent. Its major airport has excellent connections across India and to major cities across the world, with flights leaving to London, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, and others. Trains also connect Mumbai to the rest of India from Mumbai Central Station and Bandra Terminus. It is advisable to book long-distance train journeys in advance.
Business: A hub for finance and advertising
Mumbai is the predominant commercial centre of India. As well as vast amounts of poverty, there is also considerable wealth: the city has been ranked in the top ten cities in the world on billionaire count. Service industries are strong here, with Nariman Point being the main financial area of the city. Advertising is also prominent, with a number of the top agencies basing themselves in the city, including O&M, Saachi & Saachi, and Lowe Lintas. Other key sectors include engineering, information technology, diamond-polishing, and healthcare
Culture: Take a tour of local areas
Local taxi drivers will be able to whisk you around some of Mumbai’s most interesting sites, such as Dhobi Ghat Laundry District, ‘the world’s largest human washing machine’, and the iconic Gateway to India and Taj Mahal Palace hotel. A more controversial point of interest in the city is Dhavari slum. This impoverished area is the largest slum in Asia, and the inspiration behind the box office hit Slumdog Millionaire. Yet, it is home to an incredible £ 350m industry. Reality Tours and Travel offer personalised group tours: strictly no cameras, and profits are put into a community project.
Activities: Visit ancient caves and colonial buildings
It is well worth simply walking around and exploring the streets of Mumbai. In Colaba, the main tourist area, there are seemingly endless street markets and street food vendors, various museums and many interesting colonial buildings. Elephanta Island is located around 1 hour from Mumbai by boat, and can be reached by ferry from the Gateway to India. The island, famous for its ancient caves and carvings linked to the cult of the Hindu deity Shiva, provides a calm and quiet escape from the city for a couple of hours.