First Time in Mumbai: Five Dos and Don'ts

Mumbai, also known as Bombay is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and is home to a multitude of people who belong to different cultures and communities. Each of these varied groups of people have played a role in shaping Mumbai and the city is now a melting pot of these different communities and cultures. Mumbai is a city that is composed of seven different islands that were reclaimed from the sea. It is the wealthiest city in India and is also the most populous urban city in the subcontinent. Mumbai is also the financial and commercial capital of India and is home to a multitude of scientific research centers and nuclear institutes. It is situated on the Western coast of India, also known as the Konkan coast with a natural harbor.

Mumbai Busy Street Scene
Mumbai Busy Street Scene

Getting there and moving about

Mumbai, being one of the major cities in India and the world has excellent connectivity to other parts of India and various international destinations. The international airport in Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport has daily flights to different locations worldwide as well as in India. The airport is located 7.3km (4.5 mi) away from the city center. The railway station in Mumbai is operated by the India Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. Trains to all parts of India can be boarded from here. The Mumbai Central Railway Station is 18.1km (11.2 mi) away from the city center.

The city of Mumbai has an excellent suburban railway system that transports millions of commuters every day and has railway stations at all major localities in the city. The bus service operated by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport and is one of the largest bus fleets in India. Mumbai city also has a metro system that was first introduced to reduce overcrowding on the suburban trains. The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation operates the metro which has different routes that connect the whole city. Taxis and other modes of transport are available in the city but the traffic congestion problem increases the travel time exponentially.

See More: Mumbai Local Trains

Five things to enjoy if it’s your first time in Mumbai

•  Vada Pav is fast food that is native to the state of Maharashtra. The food consists of deep-fried potato dumplings that can be in different shapes, which is then sandwiched between a bread that has been sliced in the middle called Pav. A tangy chutney and deep-fried green chilies coated with salt are accompaniments to this dish. This dish can be found anywhere in Mumbai ranging from street-side hawkers to fancyrestaurants. It can be enjoyed for as little as Rs.10 per plate.

Gateway of India, Mumbai
Gateway of India
See More: Top 10 Mumbai Street Food

•  The Gateway of India is a monument that was completed in the year 1924. It was built to commemorate the landing of the first British King in India. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and the monument has now become synonymous with the city. The best time to visit the monument is in the evenings as the setting sun casts magnificent shadows over the area. It is a popular tourist destination in Mumbai and droves of them can be found on any given day.

•  The Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and a tomb that contains the tomb of Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. It is located on an islet in Western Mumbai that is off the coast of Worli. It is constructed in the style of Indo-Islamic architecture. Access to the islet is restricted to times of low tide since the causeway that connects it to the mainland is submerged during high tide.

•  Marine Drive is a curved beachfront promenade that is 3.6km (2.2 mi) in length. It is also known as the Queen's Necklace. This is since at night if the road is viewed from an elevated point the street lights on the road combined with the shape of the road resemble a necklace. It is an important tourist point in the city with it attracting a large number of footfalls each day.

•  Crawford market or as it is known presently, the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai is one of the most famous markets in South Bombay and has the distinction of being the first building in India to be lit up with electricity in the year 1882. The building has elements of both the Norman style and the Flemish style of architecture with friezes that depict Indian farmers on the outside. The market is closed on Tuesdays but is open for the rest of the week from 11.00 AM to 8.00 PM. A wide variety of different items can be bought in this market.

First time in Mumbai? Here are the things you shouldn’t be doing

•  Mumbai is a very crowded place and as such there will always be strangers jostling against you whether it be while traveling or in tourist areas. These areas are a haven for pickpockets and always check on your wallet. It is preferable to keep your wallet in one of your front pockets rather than one at the back to avoid getting your wallet pinched.

•  India is a deeply religious place and as such footwear, in temples and some cases, houses are also frowned upon. Make sure to never wear footwear inside a temple as you are at risk of offending the religious sentiments of people. Most temples have a place to store the removed footwear. Refrain from wearing stylish footwear as they can be robbed when left outside.

Wearing Conservative Clothes
Wearing Conservative Clothes in Temples

Lavish Colonial Buildings in Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

•  Avoid wearing clothes that reveal too much skin or are very short. India is a conservative country where these types of clothes are frowned upon. Wearing conservative clothes can help you blend in with the locals and avoid unwanted stares from passers-by. Some temples also require you to cover your head when you enter them.

•  Never strike up an argument with a local unless you are prepared to spend a lot of time trying to get your point across. There are some cases where they can even get violent and can assault you. The people best avoided are auto drivers, fisherwomen, and other such layabouts. Not all locals are the same way and some will prefer to help you rather than fight you.

•  Beef is a taboo in the country and cows are treated as Gods. There have been violent protests over this in the country. Care has to be taken while ordering beef in the city as it is home to a sizeable Hindu population who are against it. The slaughter of cows is illegal in the state but the consumption has remained legal.

The city of Mumbai is home to not only marvels of modern architecture but can also boast three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the Elephanta Caves, and a collection of the Victorian era and Art Deco buildings in the city. The climate in Mumbai is tropical and faces a major problem of flooding during the monsoon season. Air pollution is a major issue in Mumbai with a large number of vehicles and other factors.

If you’re travelling for the first time in Mumbai, you will most likely love this city and its people who always look busy. The city is also home to the Bollywood film industry and as such is the entertainment capital of India. For a quick history recap, the first stock exchange in Asia, the Bombay Stock Exchange or BSE was established in the year 1875 and is located in Mumbai.

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