Mumbai is a small city in terms of size, the widest part of South Mumbai is only 3 miles. Most of the things to see and do are in South Mumbai so it made it easy to get around and not worry too much about getting lost. Although in that small area there are A LOT of people. The traffic in the city is intense and luckily the tuk tuks are not allowed in the center which alleviates some of the congestion.
I had specific things that I wanted to do while in Mumbai: 1) see a Bollywood movie, preferably one with Shahruhk Khan in it; 2) sit on Chowpatty beach in the evening; 3) visit the Elephanta Caves; and 4) see the Gate of India. I am very happy to say that we were able to do all of them. On our first day here we wandered around to get our bearings and came across the Eros movie theater which was showing only one movie, RA-ONE starring Shahrukh Kahn. I was very excited, we bought our tickets for the balcony and the ticket seller informed us that there were no subtitles. I wasn't concerned about that at all because it was an action movie so it wouldn't be difficult to follow and a lot of Bollywood movies today are in Hinglish so we are able to understand most conversations. One of the best parts was the intermission when people get snacks of Samosas and popcorn in the middle of the movie.
Our hotel was right next to the Gate of India, in fact our room had a view of it. We stayed at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel which was built in 1903 by Tata in response to another luxury hotel that restricted his access because of racism. Our room was gorgeous:
On the first night we spent some time enjoying the lovely hotel bar:
The museum in Mumbai is in an amazing building and was originally called the Prince of Wales museum. It is only 10 rupees for Indian Nationals to enter, but 300 rupees for each of us as foreigners. it housed miniature paintings from the Mughal period and some interesting artifacts from the people of Tibet. The natural history section left a lot to be desired.
We visited Malabar Hill which is a posh part of town and took a taxi to something they call the Hanging Gardens, even though we couldn't find anything actually hanging. The same gardens have what is called the Towers of Silence at the north end of the park. These towers are where some members of the Jain religion leave the bodies of their deceased to be devoured by vultures. One of our taxi drivers told us that he has had eyes and fingers drop on his car when he was parked there.
We walked down from Malabar Hill and along Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach where locals come to enjoy the cool breeze after work. There are people playing in the sea fully clothed, chaiwallahs, beggars, lovers, and other peddlers. The tide was low and the shore full of trash. There are not many trash cans for use by the public and when there are, the people don't seem to care about using them.
One night for dinner we ate at Masala Kraft in the Taj Palace. It was delicious!
From the Gate of India we caught a Ferry over to the Elephanta Caves where there are carvings for the worship of Shiva in his many forms. No one knows exactly who built the caves which makes them even that much more intriguing.
Families bring picnic lunches and relax on the island, which attracts monkeys who steal their food. Of course people are not supposed to feed the wild monkeys, but they do. I took 15 pictures of the monkeys while we were at the caves, which Matt found amusing. This one is enjoying an ice cream someone gave to it:
This little girl was my favorite, she is scratching her chin and looking right at me like she is thinking about little actions.
This goat was begging for chips from these guys having a snack, sometimes they gave her some.
Apparently, I like having my picture taken with the animals
This cow was minding her own business until she saw some people walking by with Corn on the Cob and she quickly caught up to them and followed them closely to their surprise. I am not sure I have ever seen a cow move so fast.
Around our hotel and Marine Drive, these silver carriages pull tourists around and at night the rope lighting they are covered in is turned on which creates quite the visual.
On our drive to the airport our driver insisted we stop to see the clothes washing which is done by men. Apparently, all of the city's laundry is done here and it is a factory of sorts without automatic washing machines. Anytime you drop your clothes of at a cleaner's store front they will get sent here. We could see hotel and catering uniforms among other things. It was an interesting site.