Our Lively Cities: Marvellous Mumbai
Our World | On 08, Jun 2011
I can’t believe it’s not the capital! The sheer size, cultural importance and financial clout for one thing. The impressive remnants of British imperialism, not to mention Bollywood – the world’s biggest movie industry and its control of the nation’s booming economy.
Where do you start trying to describe this city? The mass of humanity is a frantic melange of India’s extremes. Wealth, poverty, ancient, modern, sophistication, third world, skyscrapers and slums – prepare to have your mind blown if it’s your first visit to India!
More than half the population (all 17 million of them) live in slums. The allure of this place is however, addictive, and not to get stuck in to the mayhem would be a seriously unique experience wasted.
There are excellent hotels – Shangri-La, Oberoi, Four Seasons, you really can’t go wrong, but the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, now more famous than ever for the wrong reasons, exudes such a gracious sense of pride and style.
Lasting impressions for me are of the huge ‘Gateway of India’ arch on one end of the amazing skyline, facing out to Mumbai Harbour – nowadays a favourite gathering spot for people watching and where beggars and touts rub shoulders with the foreign tourists. Then there’s the Dhobi Ghat laundry. Simply amazing – a vast area in the open air of the slums where 5000 men work from sunrise to sunset seven days a week cleaning, washing and drying clothes in whatever breezes are available. See it to believe it.
Mumbai has so much to offer and a visit is a truly amazing cultural experience. Spend time exploring the slums with a guide and embrace the sheer size and scale of the vast areas. To fully enjoy Mumbai you have to be willing to dive right in and open your heart to a whole new way of life. Trust me though, you will be hugely richer as a person if you do.
Susan Sexton, Events Team