Mumbai, India

Indian Subcontinent 

Mumbai was a surprise!  We were braced for crowds, traffic, poverty and filth.  We certainly did find the traffic—not so much the crowds, poverty or filth.  Although all do exist.  The Mumbai population is around 23 million—that’s one huge city!  The traffic is mind-boggling, but I wonder how many people own their own cars.  So much of the traffic seems to be taxis! 

lots and lots of cars!
lots and lots of cars!

We began our Indian adventure with a stop at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.  It was built in 1903 by Jamsetji Tata after he was refused entry to the grand Watson Hotel.  Watson was restricted to whites only; dark skinned Indians were not allowed.  Our tour was arranged by the concierge at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, so I suppose it was natural the guide would show us the current state of the Watson Hotel.  Time was not kind to that grand old hotel.  She is now an apartment building.

Historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India
Historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India
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Watson Hotel. The original luxury hotel in old Bombay. This is where Tata was refused entry because of his dark skin. So Tata went and built the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel to serve everyone! It’s obvious how that turnd out.

In November 2008, the Taj Mahal Palace was attacked by the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group.  There were a series of attacks in Mumbai.  167 people were killed.  31 of them at the Taj over a 3-day period.  Mostly Indian citizens, but Westerners with foreign passports were also singled out.  Indian Commandos ended the 3-day siege at the hotel when they killed the gunmen barricaded in the hotel. 

One of the iconic sites in Mumbai is the Gateway of India on Wellington Pier with the Mumbai Harbour as its backdrop.  Built in 1911 for the visit of King George V.   It also witnessed the departure of the last British Regiment in 1947 when independence was declared.

Gateway of India
Gateway of India

Today, Mumbai is the business capital of India, as well as the entertainment hub.  The city is home to India’ film industry, known as Bollywood.

The architecture in Mumbai is head-turning.  The British Colonial buildings are impressive.  And the Art Deco buildings surprising.  I was amazed to learn Mumbai is second to Miami Beach in the sheer number of Art Deco buildings.  Viewing Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach from Malabar Hill across the Back Bay is evocative of Miami’s South Beach.

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A sweep of the bay with lots of Art Deco buildings. Mumbai has the second largest concentration of Art Deco after Miami.

We saw so much in Mumbai:  Ghandi’s House, the old Railroad Station, the first Hospital,  the Laundries.  But to me, the most exciting site was the outdoor book market located in the Fort District, not too far from Mumbai University.  We even saw the most expensive single family house in the world!

Victoria Terminus, Mumbai Train Station
Victoria Terminus, Mumbai Train Station
The Hospital
The Hospital
One of the Laundries.
One of the Laundries.
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This is a book stall! How cool! It goes on forever and includes a lending library.
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The most expensive single family residence in the world! 26 stories high with 4 levels of parking. Owned by a local billionaire.

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