In addition to beaches and museums, Mumbai offers a wide variety of other places to visit with varying experiences. There are architectural landmarks dating back to the British Rule and places of worship that are older than the rest of Mumbai. Each is intriguing and interesting in its own way. Read on to know more and add these places to visit in Mumbai to your holiday itinerary.
Gateway of India
One of the most iconic landmarks of India, the Gateway of India is one of the most-frequented places to visit in Mumbai. This monument is so popular and well-known that it has become synonymous with the city of Mumbai and even casual visitors to the city visit it at least once.
Built in the early 20th Century, the Gateway of India was commissioned in honour of King George V’s first visit to India. Although it was not completed in time for his arrival, this iconic landmark played an important and fitting role in bidding adieu to the British Empire at the time of India’s independence.
The last of the British Soldiers marched through the Gateway of India on their way out of India in a ceremony formally signalling the end of British rule for once and all.
This historic information aside, the Gateway of India was the landing pier for many years and even today, it is one of the first sights that greet visitors cruising to India. Ferries to Elephanta Caves begin from the pier here to-date.
The Gateway of India is included in almost all Guided Sightseeing tours of Mumbai as one of the first places to visit in Mumbai. It is recommended to visit this landmark either early in the morning or in the late evening to enjoy the sea breeze and the scenic views without the harsh sun beating down.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Vivekananda Statue and the Elephanta Caves are the other places to visit in Mumbai near the Gateway of India.
One of the most visited temples in Mumbai, the Siddhivinayak Temple is famous for its legendary belief of fulfilment of its devotees wishes. Dedicated to Lord Ganesha and his consorts Siddhi and Riddhi, the Siddhivinayak Temple is so famous that even celebrities make it a point to visit it before the beginning of any big project.
The temple dates back to the beginning of the 19th Century, when it was a simple small structure. Now it is a multi-storeyed structure topped by multiple domes. While the main central dome is Gold-plated, the surrounding domes are made with a mix of gold and panchadhatu (5 metals).
The inner sanctum has retained its original deity, which is 2 centuries old and is carved out of a single black stone. It is 2.5 feet high and 2 feet wide. Ganesh ji has the trunk on the right side, a lotus on the upper right hand, an axe on the upper left, a rosary in the lower right and a modak in the lower left hand.
Darshan can be pre-booked by foreigners and NRIs. There is a separate line for VIPs and celebrities.
There are several flower and prasad shops within and near the complex.
The Siddhivinayak Temple is located in Dadar. Dadar beach and Dadar Flower Market are the other places to visit in Mumbai located near the Siddivinayak Temple.
Originally named the Victoria Terminus and presently known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, this main railway station of Mumbai is a major place to visit in Mumbai. The terminus is the lifeline of the city, with many local trains originating and terminating here, connecting the Mumbaikars to their workplaces across the city. This fact is evident from the pulsating energy that can be seen at the terminus during peak travel hours.
However, that is no reason to visit the Victoria Terminus or CST on a tour of Mumbai.
So why is this railway station listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and why does every sightseeing tour of Mumbai include it as a top place to visit in Mumbai?
The answer lies in its spectacular architecture. Built in the late 19th Century, the architecture of CST is a grand mix of Indian palatial architecture and Victorian Gothic style. No effort was wasted in the construction of this terminus.
Stone gargoyles, busts of the 10 Directors of the Railway organization of that time, and intricate stone carvings adorn the façade of the terminus. A collection of high pointed domes including a main dome, arched windows, decorated roofs and frescos, stained glass windows and much more can be seen here – preserved in their original state.
The architecture of the Victoria Terminus is inspired by the Parliament Building in Berlin, Germany and the St Pancras Railway Station in London, UK. It might resemble them in some aspects, but with the inclusion of India style architecture, it is a unique piece of architecture. And that is the main reason that the Victoria Terminus or CST is listed as a top place to visit in Mumbai in most travel guides and Mumbai sightseeing tour packages.
While the terminus was initially built to commemorate 50 years of successful reign by Queen Victoria in India, it was renamed in honour of the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj almost 50 years after independence.
The CST is vast; notable areas that inspire tours include the Ticket Booking Office, a view of the original platforms (Platform 1 to 9), and the façade; the best time to visit is in the evening, when the façade is beautifully illuminated with colourful lights.
Built on land reclaimed from the sea, the Marine Drive of Mumbai is one of the top places to visit in Mumbai – especially in the evenings. Find your spot and sit back and relax, as the sea breeze blows away your worries and the scenic sunset fills your heart with peace. Look around, and it is as if the city that supposedly never stops, has come to a halt, to enjoy and revel in the smallest pleasures of life – by the seaside.
As darkness falls, you can see the thousands of lights illuminating the drive like a Queen’s Necklace. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below only serves to enhance the experience.
Haji Ali Dargah
A truly unique creation by man, the Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque located on an islet just off the coast of Mumbai. The complex has the tomb / dargah of Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari and is one counted amongst the top places to visit in Mumbai.
Open to visitors from all walks of life and religions, the Haji Ali Dargah can be visited only at certain times of the day – when the tide is low. During high tide, the path leading to the mosque is covered in water and cannot be used.
On low tide, the path to the mosque is kind of a dirt track. Often, the waves of the surrounding ocean splashes the visitors as they make their way over to the Haji Ali Dargah.
On Thursdays, you can experience a live Qawali performance, making the Haji Ali Dargah a top place to visit in Mumbai for special experiences of the city.
Even if you do not visit the Haji Ali Dargah, do try to check it out from the mainland itself – the view of this white monument, surrounded by the ocean is a view in itself and a photographer’s delight.
Many sightseeing tours of Mumbai begin with an excursion to Elephanta Caves. A complex of rock cut caves located on an island off the coast of Mumbai, the Elephanta Caves are one of the top places to visit in Mumbai, especially for the historically- and architecturally-inclined.
Interestingly, the caves have been around since as back as the 5th century and were once active places of worship for Hindus. Today, the caves are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites and have become popular places to visit in Mumbai.
A tour of the caves reveal gigantic statues and life-size sculptures of Lord Shiva and Buddha, amongst others. Quite many of these faced damage in the pre-Independence era. Despite the damage, these rock-carved sculptures inspire awe in their visitors.
Walk around the caves or take a combination of toy train rides and pony rides. Either way, you will find yourself spending at least a couple of hours marvelling at the expertise of the ancient artisans who carved these sculptures by hand, chiselling away with hand-held tools.
These historic caves are accessible only by a hour-long ferry ride; ferries are available from the pier at the Gateway of India. A visit to the Elephanta Caves can be combined with a visit to the Gateway of India and the Colaba Causeway market.
Mount Mary Church
One of the most famous churches in India, the Mount Mary Church is also one of the top places to visit in Mumbai. Signified as a minor basilica, this place of worship is renowned for its wooden statue of Mother Mary and child Jesus, which dates back to the 16th Century.
Brought to India by the Jesuits from Portugal, this statue of Mother Mary is believed to have the special power of granting wishes and favours to believers, visiting the basilica. The shrine has grown over the years from a small altar at the top of the mount near Lands End Bandra to the beautiful brick structure of today.
Today, the Basilica is also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount and is most famous as the venue of the Bandra Fair and the Annual Feast of Our Lady of the Mount. Held on September 8, this feast is also known as the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and makes the basilica one of the most visited places to visit in Mumbai at the time.
The fair is an annual affair that is spread across 17 days, with the first 9 days devoted to praying to Virgin Mary and the next 8 days in celebration. There are various stalls selling everything from snacks to souvenirs lining the streets leading to the basilica. There is festivity and joy in the air.
Perched on a small hillock on the shores of the Arabian Sea, the Mahalakshmi Temple in Mumbai is one of the most revered temples in India and one of the top places to visit in Mumbai. Its history, which is uniquely linked to the history of Mumbai, and its marvellous sea views both combine to attract visitors from across India.
According to legend, idols of Maa Durga, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati were immersed in the sea near Worli creek to save them from demolition by invaders. Years later, when Mumbai came under the British and an effort was on to reclaim the land and build a link between Malbar Hill and Worli, success evaded the engineers.
One of the engineers eventually had a vision of Goddess Mahalakshmi, in which the Goddess asked him to retrieve her idols from the creek. The engineer, Shri Ramji Shivji Prabhu, did as directed and placed the idols on top of the hillock. Later, he constructed a temple to house the idols and give them a proper place of worship. Only after the idols were retrieved from the creek, was he able to successfully build the link between Malbar Hill and Worli.
Since the building of the temple, the Mahalakshmi Temple has been a top place to visit in Mumbai for worshipping Goddess Mahalakshmi, Goddess Mahakali and Goddess Mahasaraswati. The temple is especially busy during the festivals of Navaratri, Chaitra Navaratri, Kartik Poornima, and Gudhi Padwa (the Marathi New Year).
The Mahalakshmi Temple is located on Bhulabhai Desai Road in the Mahalakshmi Area of Breach Candy, Cumbala Hill. Many visitors make it a point to visit the backside of the temple to enjoy the sea breeze and sea views after worship. There are many other temples devoted to Lord Shiva, Rama and Ganesha in the vicinity of the Mahalakshmi Temple, making the entire area a top place to visit in Mumbai for prayer and worship.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Just step inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park for a wonderfully refreshing break from the hustle-bustle of Mumbai. One of the few national parks to exist within a city limit, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park offers a pleasant reprieve from the pollution and hectic pulse of the city.
Enjoy a Jungle safari to meet the big cats – lions and tigers; ride the toy train across the national park; have fun boating at the vast lake; and cycle or trek to the Kanheri Caves, a set of rock-cut cakes located within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Either way, there is a lot to see and enjoy here, making the Sanjay Gandhi National Park one of the top places to visit in Mumbai for kids, couples, family and all nature lovers.
For Indians and Mumbaikars, the Dhobi Ghat might not seem like a top tourist place to visit. But for visitors from other nations, especially, those who come to see the poor and rural part of India, this open-air laundromat holds a special appeal.
Visitors to the Dhobi Ghat witness thousands of men washing clothes by hand, while standing in soap-filled concrete tubs. There are rows and rows of these tubs with concrete slabs set against one end, upon which the men beat large and heavy clothes to remove their dirt.
Once washed, the clothes are dried, pressed and delivered to their respective owners – who range from hotels, resorts and clubs to wedding caterers and hospitals.
Over 100,000 clothes are washed by a team of 7000 people every day, making it to be one of the largest laundromats in the world and one recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most people hand-washing clothes in a single location.
The best time to visit the Dhobi Ghat is early morning to see the washing in action and at afternoon to see the lines of clothes drying off!!