MUMBAI TOURISM: RESTAURANTS, HOTELS, TRANSPORTATION, SHOPPING AND ENTERTAINMENT

TOURIST OFFICES AND INFORMATION IN MUMBAI

According to Lonely Planet: The head office of the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) has helpful staff and lots of pamphlets and information on Maharashtra, as well as bookings for MTDC hotels. It's also the only MTDC office of note that accepts credit cards. There are additional booths at Apollo Bunder and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) Office & Information Center
M-21, Express Tower, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 01
Tel: +91-22-22024482
Website: www.maharashtratourism.gov.in

Tourist Division and Reservation office
M Kama Road, Mumbai – 400020
Tel: +91-22-22026713
Tourist Offices Information Booking Center
Near Pritam Hotel,
Mumbai – 400014, Tel: +91-22-24143200

CST ( Formerly VT) Railway Station,
Tel: +91-22-22622859

Chatrapati Shivaji Marg
Gateway Of India, Mumbai – 400039
Tel: +91-22-22841877

Government Of India Tourist Office
123, Maroshi Karve Road, Mumbai – 20,
Tel: +91-22-24920510

Government Of India Tourist Office
Churchgate, Mumbai – 400020,
Tel: +91-22-22093229 Maharashtra Tourism

Orientation and Layout of Mumbai

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is a port in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. On a map the main part of the city looks like a peninsula that is actually two islands. Its great natural, deep water harbor is 194 square kilometers (75 square miles) in size. Mumbai spreads out over seven islands on the Arabian Sea and is positioned on the western shore of the subcontinent, below the armpit of Gujarat.

The seven islands and the peninsula on which Mumbai is located were created by ancient volcanic eruptions. During the mid-18th century, the Hornby Vellard Project was launched where major roads and railways were constructed over the sea to connect these seven islands in one of the biggest land reclamation development drives in India. Today roughly half of Mumbai rests on land reclaimed from the sea and the seven islands are all connected together. In some places ghats, which are traditionally placed by the water for the cremation of the dead, are located hundred of meters inland.

Mumbai consists of two distinct regions: Mumbai City district and Mumbai Suburban district. The city district region is also commonly referred to as the Island City or South Mumbai. The total area of Mumbai is 603.4 square kilometers (233 square miles). Of this, the island city spans 67.79 square kilometers (26 square miles), while the suburban district spans 370 square kilometers (143 square miles).

Mumbai lies at the mouth of the Ulhas River on the western coast of India, in the coastal region known as the Konkan. It sits on Salsette Island (Sashti Island), which it partially shares with the Thane district. Mumbai is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west. Many parts of the city lie just above sea level, with elevations ranging from 10 meters (33 feet) to 15 meters (49 feet). Northern Mumbai (Salsette) is hilly, and the highest point in the city is 450 meters (1,476 feet) at Salsette in the Powai–Kanheri ranges. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali National Park) is located partly in the Mumbai suburban district, and partly in the Thane district, and it extends over an area of 103.09 square kilometers (39.80 square miles).

Mumbai City district occupies the southern tip of the island. Mumbai Suburban district occupies the island’s central region. Thane and Navi Mumbai are included in Mumbai Metropolitan Area. Navi Mumbai is on the mainland. Thane is split between the northern section of Salsette Island and the mainland. Mahim Causeway and Bandra-Worli Sea Link Bridge connects the city with its western suburbs.

The eastern side of Mumbai looks out over the great sheltered, natural harbor, unrivaled elsewhere on the subcontinent. At the southern end of the city lies the sweeping, five-kilometer curve of Back Bay, bordered by Marine Drive, a promenade road known as the Queen's Necklace because of how it looks when it is lit up at night. South Mumbai is an upmarket area. Colaba is a shopping district there.

The downtown business area is flanked to the north by an area of busy markets and bazaars Beyond the bazaars, Mumbai is a hodgepodge of densely crowded tenements, slum areas, factories, cotton mills, railway lines, and crowded streets. Getting around is made more confusing than it otherwise might be because many streets and landmarks were renamed like Mumbai itself when Hindu nationalists came to power in the 1990s. The new names are sometimes on maps. Sometimes they are not. Most inhabitants use the old names.

Entertainment in Mumbai

Mumbai is regarded as the nightlife center of India. Many discos and nightclubs are found in large or trendy hotels. There are discos with names like the Razzbery Rhinoceros and Western-style bars. The local elite often head to the Kala Ghoda District, which is also home to the Jehangir Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art, or drive to Banddra, the Mumbai version of Beverley Hills. In the 2000s the happening places for “Bombabes” and “Bomboys” included Olive in Bandra and Indigo behind the Taj Hotel. These places are still around. Juhu district is a hopping club, bar and restaurant area.

Mumbai is a center for Indian and western classical music. Well-known Indian and international artists perform in Mumbai's concert halls. Folk dances and music are sometimes performed at restaurants. The Red Light District is on Falkland Road. Hollywood as well as Bollywood films can be seen at local movie theaters. Cricket and field hockey are often played in the city's parks. Sports enthusiasts can also enjoy basketball, swimming, sailing tennis, and golf. A calendar of events may be obtained from the tourist offices. Also check out local newspapers, websites, the Lonely Planet Books and other guide books as well as posters put up around town.

Maharashtra has many different types of indigenous dance forms and these can all be seen in areas in and around Mumbai. The ethnic dances of this region can be either colorful folk dances performed in groups as entertainment during weddings and festivals or those that that tell popular folk and historical tales as well as the more spiritual and personalised dance experiences that celebrate life. Povada is a dance form that showcases the lifetime achievements of the celebrated Maratha ruler, Shivaji Maharaj. Lavani and koli dance forms entertain with their mesmerising music and rhythmic movements. The Dhangri gaja dance form by Dhangars of Sholapur pays respect to god. Dindi and kala are religious folk dances, which express the ecstasy of Lord Krishna. Maharashtra has also had great saint poets, like Jnandev, Namdev, Tukaram, Jani and Soyara, who through their folk songs have taught importance of worship and urged everyone to merge into oneness with God.

If you’ve got money, Mumbai can be a wild place. Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times: This isn't Delhi, where public outcry ensued after Richard Gere recently planted a public kiss on the actress Shilpa Shetty at a fund-raiser. This is Mumbai, the commercial and entertainment center of India and the country's fastest-growing city, home to more and more millionaires and Maybachs and restaurants and nightclubs and strip bars and movie studios and immigrants and luxury-goods stores every day. And its citizens — or some of the privileged ones, at least — are eating it up, embracing the explosion of luxury culture. [Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

Upper Class Fashion Show at the Taj Mahal Hotel Palace

Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times:“The nexus for social life in Mumbai is the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. It sits just behind the Gateway of India, the city's most famous monument, a wedding cake of basalt and concrete built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. The hotel is home to seven restaurants of various global cuisines with names like Souk, Masala Kraft and Wasabi by Morimoto.[Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

“On an April evening in pre-monsoon Mumbai, India, about 600 of the city's glitterati gathered in the ballroom of the Taj Mahal Hotel Palace and Tower for a fashion show. Waiters in white jackets passed flutes of Champagne and trays of caviar. Like any other large city, Mumbai has its highly visible reigning class, the wealthy people who want to be seen — in contrast to the wealthy people who will do anything to remain unseen. This night's audience was composed of the former group, dressed in their latest couture purchased on their last jaunts to Europe, professionally lacquered and coiffed, turning their angular chins and dermatologically plumped lips at pleasant angles for the photographers there to capture Mumbai's blossoming beau monde.

“Pop! There were Yash and Avanti Birla, the 30-something couple who had posed for the cover of Indian L'Officiel, a popular society magazine, the previous month. For the evening, Yash, a member of one of India's leading industrial families, wore blue jeans and a sleeveless mesh T-shirt, through which his nipples were visible. ““He's not your typical Indian dresser,” said his wife, in highlighted hair and Christian Louboutin shoes. They waved to Karan Johar, a young filmmaker and talk-show host. The photographers scurried over like a pack of panicked beetles. Flash! The SLRs clicked furiously as Parmeshwar Godrej, a fixture of Page 3, the celebrity- and socialite-obsessed gossip page of The Times of India, walked in wearing a sequined beret and looking very much like a brunet Donatella Versace. The previous month, Godrej, a reigning queen of Mumbai society, had hosted the party of the season — the wedding celebration for Elizabeth Hurley and her Mumbai-bred husband, Arun Nayar. The crowd was still chattering on about it.

“The lights dimmed and a video, courtesy of the Centurion Bank of Punjab, was projected onto a large screen. A voice-over intoned, “It's not easy to live a superlative life.” James Bond theme music played as actors portraying wealthy young Indians stepped from limousines, flashing nuclear-white dental veneers and toasting one another with goblets of red wine. Young women strolled through the audience passing out pamphlets explaining the bank's trust and estate services.

“When the lights went up, Shobhaa Dé, a model-turned-romance novelist as well as a lifestyle columnist for The Times of India, and the wife of one of Mumbai's wealthiest men and the fashion designer behind the evening's real entertainment, stepped to the microphone. Dé, her long black hair flowing and a red bindi (symbolizing marriage and love) marking her forehead, introduced her new sari collection. She explained that they were meant to be a contemporary turn on the garment, which Indian women have worn since before the birth of Christ. “These are fun, these are powerful, but above all, they are sexy,” she said as the models began to move down the catwalk, their torsos seemingly unattached to their legs, which traced lazy figure eights along the stage. Some of the saris showed the crest of the buttocks, while others soared in potentially scandalous slits up the thigh. But there were no signs of protest from the crowd.”

Restaurants in Mumbai

Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city that offers a wider variety of food than other Indian cities. The best restaurants are generally located in the large hotels. Indian, Chinese, French, Italian, Thai Japanese and Korean food are all available in Mumbai. You can even get a grilled steak and a drink after midnight. Many fast food outlets are on Mahatma Gandhi Road. There are also some cafes and coffee shops.

Mumbai tourist offices may be able to provide you with a restaurant guide. Also check lists of restaurants in local entertainment magazines, the Lonely Planet books and other guidebooks. Bhelpuri is a fast-food savoury snack made from puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and tangy tamarind sauce. It is mostly available as chaat (savoury snack) at the beachside eateries and the alleys of Mumbai. Mumbai is a coastal city with a long history of fish trade as the city's natives were kolis or fishermen. For this reason, seafood is an essential culinary item that forms an important part of Mumbai cuisine. Some of the main seafood items offered in Mumbai include fish koliwada, tisriya masala, prawn tikki, fish thali, chanok fish fry, bangda tikhale, surmai fish curry etc. One main dish to try in Mumbai is the bombil fish fry or Mumbai duck, which is actually a fish found aplenty in the waters around the city. It is crunchy on the outside and succulent on the inside. To prepare this, the fish is first flattened, then dipped in a batter of gram flour enriched with spices, and finally fried. It can be eaten as a meal in itself or can be served with rotis (Indian flatbread).

Most basic food items are available locally. Beef has become increasingly scarce since the ascension to Maharashtra state power of a Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, in 1994. Mutton, pork, ham, and chicken are readily available. A good variety of vegetables is found in plentiful supply year round—tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, beets, beans, onions, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and okra. Lettuce and celery are available. Many wonderful fruits are available at different times of the year—papaya, mangoes, pineapples, oranges, tangerines, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, apples, and strawberries. Prices of fruits and vegetables can be as much as 80 percent less than the would cost in the U.S.

On restaurants and clubs in Mumbai in 2007, Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times: “ “Enigma. The party goes late and the drinks are expensive at this lounge located in a fashionable suburb. Marriott Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu Beach; 011-91-22-5693-3000. Golden Dragon. Standout Chinese food and a great view of the Gateway of India. Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Apollo Bunder, Colaba; 011-91-22-6665-3366; entrees $16 to $34. India Jones. Wide-ranging Asian cuisine, from deep-fried mango-and-rice rolls to satay chicken. Hilton Towers, Nariman Point; 011-91-22-6632-4343; entrees $8 to $32. India Khyber. Intimate restaurant with a classic Mughlai menu. 145 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda; 011-91-22-2267-3227; entrees $15 to $24. Indigo. A favorite among the foodie set, the place turns into a jam-packed nightclub after 11 p.m. 4 Mandlik Road, Colaba; 011-91-22-6636-8999; entrees $7 to $20. Masala Kraft. Superb modern-Indian fare. Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Apollo Bunder, Colaba; 011-91-22-6665-3366; entrees $12 to $37. Tiffin. The destination for lunching ladies and power brokers, it serves sushi as well as staples like a good old-fashioned Caesar salad. Oberoi Mumbai, Nariman Point; 011-91-22-6632-5757; entrees $15 to $33. [Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

Accommodation in Mumbai

Mumbai has quite a few deluxe hotels including the Taj Mahal, Oberoi and Ramada Plaza Palm Grove in Juhu, a Four Seasons and a Hyatt. There are also quite a few standard hotels, hostels, guesthouses, YMCAs and other hotels. Some of the most popular cheap hotels and guesthouses are located in Bandra. Hotel rooms are sometimes difficult to find because businesses caught in a bind by high office space cost have leased rooms. Because many flights arrive in the middle of the night some people stay at Juhu beach, which is relatively close to Sahar International Airport. The Lonely Planet books good lists of cheap accommodation options.

Some large hotels are located around the Colaba Causeway (officially known as Shahid Bhagat Sing Marg) in southern Mumbai. Many hotels dot Marine Drive. The most prominent among them are the 5-star Oberoi (formerly the Oberoi Hilton), The Intercontinental, Hotel Marine Plaza, Sea Green Hotel and a few other smaller hotels.

The premier hotel and nexus for social life in Mumbai is the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. Situated just behind the Gateway of India, the city's most famous monument, according to New York Times, “it is a wedding cake of basalt and concrete built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. The hotel is home to seven restaurants of various global cuisines with names like Souk, Masala Kraft and Wasabi by Morimoto.

Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times: ““Gordon House Hotel. Rooms in this boutique hotel come in three flavors: Mediterranean, Scandinavian and Country Cottage. It's also home to Polly Esther's, a popular retro-themed nightclub. 5 Battery Street, Colaba; 011-91-22-871-122; www.ghhotel.com; doubles from about $200. Oberoi Mumbai. The city's most modern and luxurious hotel, located in the center of the business district. Nariman Point; 011-91-22-6632-5757; www.oberoimumbai.com; doubles from $460. Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. V.I.P.'s from maharajas to Mick Jagger have stayed at this well-located and historic property. Apollo Bunder, Colaba; 011-91-22-6665-3366; www.tajhotels.com; doubles from $450. [Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

According to Lonely Planet: The head office of the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) has helpful staff and lots of pamphlets and information on Maharashtra, as well as bookings for MTDC hotels. There are additional booths at Apollo Bunder and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) Office & Information Center
M-21, Express Tower, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 01
Tel: +91-22-22024482
Website: www.maharashtratourism.gov.in
Tourist Division and Reservation office
M Kama Road, Mumbai – 400020
Tel: +91-22-22026713
Tourist Offices Information Booking Center
Near Pritam Hotel,
Mumbai – 400014, Tel: +91-22-24143200

Shopping in Mumbai

Shopping in Mumbai can be fun and interesting. The city has many handicraft shops that specialize in crafts from a certain ethnic group or specific part of India — especially Kashmir and Gujarat. These places sell things like gemstones, jewelry, embroidery, leather goods, antiques, carved screens, brass, gold items, and carpets. Colorful street vendors line Colaba Causeway, a good place to shop for souvenirs. Fascinating Chor Bazaar Thieves Market and Crawford Market have been around long enough that they are considered historical landmarks as well as shopping places. Linking Road in Bandra is a good place to shop for cheap shoes and clothes.

The best shops and name brand places are located in and around the large hotels around the Colaba Causeway (officially known as Shahid Bhagat Sing Marg) in southern Mumbai. Colaba has a good variety of books, jewellery, clothes, shoes and handicraft items. The downtown business area is flanked to the north by a belt of thriving markets and bazaars.The Linking Road in Bandra is known best for accessories, clothes and shoes for both men and women. The Hill Road in Bandra has some exquisite variety of hardware, woodwork and textile shops.

The well-known Fashion Street on MG Road sells trendy and high-end street fashion at reasonable prices. This huge market has over 300 shops with an endless array of fashion items that can take an entire day of shopping. Hindmata Market in Parel has an exclusive variety of traditional and Indo-western clothes for weddings. For people wanting to shop for high-end and designer apparels, there are many options in this glamorous city of nationally and internationally renowned designers displaying the best seasonal trends. They even customise according to one's requirement. Handloom textiles and sarees from all over the country are available at Colaba and the Central Cottage Emporium.

Ganesha Idols are popular souvenir items as they are said to symbolize wisdom and bring good luck. Workshops where these idols are made can be seen all over Mumbai, especially in areas like Parel, Chinchpokli and Lalbaug. The village of Pen, about two hours south of Mumbai, is known for its highly skilled artisans who craft lakhs of Ganesha statues annually. Lately, due to environmental concerns that have arisen from the immersion of the idols at the shores of Mumbai, many artisans are gradually moving towards more eco-friendly idol-making techniques like using red soil, fertilisers, natural color, papier-mâché and other biodegradable materials.

Tailors and dressmakers are inexpensive. They can easily copy already existing items (rather than sewing from pictures or patterns). Tailors are not as speedy as in Hong Kong or Bangkok, nor is the finished product as skillfully made, but one can usually find a tailor who does adequate work. Good-quality fabrics are available here, but notions thread, buttons and fasteners may be Western standards.

Markets and Shopping Streets in Mumbai

Zaveri (Bhuleshwar in South Mumbai, just north of Crawford Market) is a bustling street with stalls offering silver, gold and diamonds as well as jewelry hoops, chokers and pendants made from precious metals and stones. Zaveri is a maze of narrow lanes, dotted with hundreds of jewelry shops including Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ), Dwarkadas Chandumal, Dhirajlal Bhimji Zaveri and UTZ. About 65 percent of all gold trading and dealing in India is estimated to originate from the market. It is named after early 19th century jeweller, Ambalal Zaveri, who was very famous for the huge amount of gold he possessed and the fighting that broke out between his sons after his death. Silver bullion brokers used to line up outside the windows of dealers and use hand signal to seal deals just like old time traders on the floor of the New York stock exchange.

Crawford Market (near Churchgate, officially Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai) is one of Mumbai's most fascinating places that can be enjoyed for its impressive colonial architecture and fresh food and spices. The sculpture of village life by the main entrance of the building was made by Rudyard Kipling's father. The three-story, fortresslike market features fruit and vegetable hawkers and bookkeepers in little rooms near the roof. the market is surrounded by a Muslim neighborhood. This market has all sorts of fruit, vegetables, meat and spices as well as kitchen appliances, saris, medicine and jewelry.

Chor Bazaar (on Mutton Street opposite Shafi Masjid) is popularly known as the Thieves Market. Here you can get antiques from the British colonial era such as wind up phonographs and parrot cages. Watch out for fakes. One of the largest flea markets in India and formerly a place where some thieves fenced goods, it is place that requires some time and rummaging to come up with good bargains. A store called Mini Market offers old Bollywood posters. There are a lot of automobile parts and junk. Nearby are shops that sell Dior fashions and Gucci handbags.

Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times: “Art Karat. A jewelry lover's paradise, this chain store sells semiprecious gems as well as cubic zirconium to create really expensive-looking pieces. SP Business Centre, 41/44 Minoo Desai Marg, Colaba; 011-91-22-6638-5474; www.artkarat.com. Aadit Gems. Shrenik Zaveri makes precious jewelry of the highest quality. This shop is almost worth the trip alone. 54 Dreamland Building, Fifth Floor; 011-91-22-2364-9955 (by appointment only). Mumbai Electric. International couture labels and high-end pieces from Indian designers. 1 Reay House,Apollo Bunder, Colaba; 011-91-22-2287-6276. Lokmanya Tilak Marg. Fabindia. A chain store that sells chic furniture, clothing, linens and basketry, with a total of five outlets in the city. Nos. 2 and 4, Navroze, 66 Pali Hill, Bandra (West); 011-91-22-2646-5286; www.fabindia.com. Mélange. Offers a mix of Indian and American fashion. 33 Altamont Road; 011-91-22-385-4492; www.melangeworld.com.Oberoi Mall. Underneath the hotel you'll find jewelry and fabric shops, a New York-style deli and a popular pharmacy. Nariman Point; 011-91-22-6632-5757. Pinakin Architect. Pinakin Patel's new store sells contemporary, handcrafted furniture. Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Second Floor, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel; 011-91-22-6500-2400; www.pinakin.in. Tarun Tahiliani. Tahiliani is the Oscar de la Renta of India — wedding dresses, couture and casual clothing for both men and women. Apollo Bunder, Colaba; 011-92-22-2287-0895; www.taruntahiliani.com. [Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

Galleries: Chemould Prescott Road. The founders of this recently relocated gallery have been a vital part of India's contemporary art movement for more than 40 years. Queens Mansion, Third Floor, Prescott Road, A. K. Nayak Marg; 011-91-22-2200-0211. Jehangir. Mumbai's largest art gallery and a gathering place for Mumbai's emerging talent. Kala Ghoda, Colaba; 011-91-22-2283-3640. See Jehangir Art Gallery Under Museums.

Transportation in Mumbai

Mumbai's has an excellent but overcrowded commuter train system (the Mumbai Suburban Railway) used mainly by office workers to go to and from work. There are also taxis, buses and auto rickshaws. Horse-drawn carriages, known as Victorias, function as taxis in some areas of the city. They are primarily used by tourists. Taxis are metered. Fares are reasonable. Taxis provide service throughout the metropolitan area, but are most readily available in South Mumbai. BEST taxis are black and yellow. BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) also provides bus, taxi, auto rickshaw and ferry transport.

Public transport is well developed, but often overcrowded. System is being expanded to meet growing demand for transport services. Limited infrastructure, inadequate public transport and rapidly increasing numbers of road users create difficult traffic conditions.There is often a massive rush hour crunch on the commuter trains in Mumbai. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 2010]

Ferry transport is available to islands near the city. Ferries leave from the Ferry Wharf in Mazagaon. The metropolitan area has two of India’s largest ports: Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust located in Navi Mumbai. Traffic on roads serving the ports is often congested.

Auto Rickshaws are metered. Fares are fixed. Drivers are not permitted to request a surcharge before midnight. They not permitted to operate in South Mumbai. Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times: “The auto-rickshaw is a sublimely apt symbol for contemporary India, one that combines both the desire for progress and the dubious methods by which that progress is sought. Only here, in the most densely populated city in the world, would it have struck someone as a good idea to take an already unstable means of transport — a seat with no seat belts, a platform with no doors, a steering wheel and windshield, all supported on three small wheels — and add to it a powerful engine, enabling it to hurtle along a highway at up to 35 miles per hour. Being driven through the narrow alleys of Khar in an auto-rickshaw felt like the most dangerous risk I'd taken with my life. Yet, as I clung to the vehicle's flimsy metal frame while we sideswiped buildings and endured the shaking fists from threatened pedestrians, I couldn't help but feel that I was being transported inside the very symbol of India — and of Mumbai.” [Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

Roads, Driving and Traffic in Mumbai

Mumbai is well-connected by decent highways and roads to all major cities and towns in India. Main roads serving the city include: NH-3, NH-4, NH-8 and Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway, Western Freeway, Eastern Freeway are under construction. Secondary roads are generally narrow. Main secondary roads are often congested, especially during rush hours. Many roads in the metropolitan area are being widened or improved. Be alert for construction zones. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 2010]

Five north-south arterial routes serve the suburbs. Some sections have not been widened. Congestion is common, especially at the many intersections with major and minor roads. MMRD Mumbai Projects, “Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Projects” Arterial routes include: 1) Eastern Express Highway, linking Sion and Thane; 2) Sion Panvel Expressway, linking Sion and Panvel; and 3) Western Express Highway, linking Bandra and Borivali.

Traffic can be congested and chaotic, especially at junctions with main roads. Overpasses reduce congestion at key junctions. Monorail construction is in progress on many roads, including Sai Baba, G .D. Ambekar Marg, Shaikh Misari Road, Wadala TT, Anik-Wadala, Anik-Panjarpol Link Road, R.C. Marg and Wadala Depot roads. Traffic may be congested in construction zones.

Many drivers are undisciplined or lack knowledge of traffic rules. Drivers often run red lights, cut in front of other vehicles without signaling and park illegally. Jaywalking is common. Mumbai Skywalks (pedestrian bridges) are available in highly congested areas. Vendor stands and illegaly parked vehicles often encroach on streets and block sidewalks. They may restrict traffic flow and force pedestrians to walk on streets.

Alex Kuczynski wrote in the New York Times: “In a car, taxi or auto-rickshaw, the vehicle bearing you will knit itself into the complicated ballet that is Mumbai traffic, which makes the 405 in Los Angeles at rush hour seem like a Nascar speedway. There are men on bicycles; couples on moto-scooters, mobile-phone headsets attached to their ears; three or four spaghetti-limbed teenage boys stacked up on motorized tricycles; and hundreds of taxis with ornately scrolled Victorian luggage racks secured to their roofs, balancing luggage, rucksacks and animals in cages.” [Source: Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, September, 23, 2007]

Buses in Mumbai

Asiad Bus Service: Government-operated buses that leave from the station near Mumbai-Pune taxi stand. Buses travel between the station and Dafar Circle in Mumbai. Service is every 15 minutes. After reaching Pimpri-Chinchwad, drivers will drop passenger almost anywhere along their route.

Private bus services also provide service between Dafar Circle and Pune. Buses leave from many locations in Mumbai. Fare varies with type of service, time of day and season. They travel to Pune Railway Station, Kothrud, Swargate or Shivajinagar.

Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport(BEST) provides bus transport throughout the city and sections of Navi Mumbai, Mira-Bhayandar and Thane. Fleet includes single- and double-decker buses, low-floor and handicap- accessible buses. Buses are air-conditioned.

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses provide inter-city bus services, linking Mumbai with other major cities in the state and other areas of India. Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) buses provide service between Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Bandra, Dindoshi and Borivali. Mumbai Darshan operates tourist bus services to popular destinations in Mumbai. Mumbai BRTS provides transport on seven BRT routes.

Suburban Trains in Mumbai

Mumbai's has an excellent commuter train system (the Mumbai Suburban Railway) with many stations used mainly office workers to go to and from work. It is the city’s most heavily used public transport service. Even though the trains arrive every four minutes tains are severely overcrowded during rush hour. Train cars lack doors. In the early 2000s, an average of ten people were run over by trains everyday.

There is often a massive rush hour crunch on the commuter trains in Mumbai. The first car of local trains is reserved for women. The policy was initiated in the late 1980s after women complained of being molested and harassed. The doors are often left open when the train pulls into some stations so passengers can leap off and on and quickly be on their way.

The Mumbai Suburban Railway (known in Mumbai as local trains or simply locals) consists of exclusive inner suburban railway lines augmented by commuter rail on main lines serving outlying suburbs to serve the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Spread over 390 kilometres (240 miles), the suburban railway operates 2,342 train services and carries more than 7.5 million commuters daily, making it is one of the busiest commuter rail systems in the world. Trains run from 04:00am until 1:00am, with some trains running up to 2:30am. It is the second largest suburban rail network in terms of route length after the Kolkata

Mumbai Metro and Monorail

The Mumbai Metro is a rapid transit system serving the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra, and the wider metropolitan region. The first line opened in 2014. As of August 2018, Mumbai metro consisted of one operational line (Line 1 - elevated metro from Versova to Ghatkopar), and four lines under various stages of construction. The system is being built in three phases over a 15-year period, with overall completion expected in 2025. When completed, the system will have eight lines, spanning a total of 235 kilometres (146 miles) (24 percent underground, the rest elevated) with 200 stations. Many metro projects were being delayed because of late environmental clearances and land acquisition troubles.

Line 1 connects Versova in the Western Suburbs to Ghatkopar in the Central Suburbs, covering a distance of 11.4 kilometres (7.1 mi). It is fully elevated, and consists of 12 stations. About 450,000 ride it daily. The trains run every three minutes during peak hours and eight minutes in off-peak hours.The average speed is 33 km/h (21 mph). Top speed is 80 km/h (50 mph).There are tickets and smart cards.

Mumbai Monorail is run by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and is the first monorail in India since the Kundala Valley Railway and Patiala State Monorail Trainways were closed in the 1920s. The system started commercial operation after partially opening its Phase 1 to the public in 2014. As of 2019, the Mumbai Monorail is the sixth-largest monorail system in the world. The system has one line with 17 stations. Trains run every 45 minutes. The system is 19.54 kilometers (12.14 miles) long. The average speed is 32 km/h (20 mph). Top speed is 80 km/h (50 mph). Line 1 of the monorail connects Jacob Circle in South Mumbai with Chembur in eastern Mumbai. There are tickets and smart cards.

Trains Stations and Long-Distance Trains from in Mumbai

There are five major railheads in Mumbai connecting the city to various parts of the country. The city is a major hub for railway transport in India. Intra-city train service: Service is provided on three lines: Harbour Line, Western and Central lines run north-south the length of the city. Cars are overcrowded during rush hour. Overcrowding is a serious safety concern on trains. Not recommended for tourists on weekdays, especially during rush hours. Avoid using north to south trains from 8:00-11:00 am and south to north trains from 6:00-9:00 pm. Avoid using express trains any day, especially trains to Virar. Express trains are also known as “fast trains.”They are indicated by a letter “F” on train schedules.

Mumbai is home to three railway zones: Central (CR), Konkan (KR) and Western (WR). The most prestigious trains in the country run on the WR while CR is the carrier of the “mango” people” The main train stations include 1) Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), 2) Dadar Station, 3) Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, 4) Mumbai Central Station, 5) Bandra Terminus, 6) Andheri and 7) Borivali Stations.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai CST) (formerly earlier known as Mumbai VT) is the where you catch most trains on the Central Railway and Konkan Railway. Dadar station on the CR was launched because Mumbai CST was too congested but few trains that originate or terminate here. Kurla Terminus, later renamed Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and known as Kurla LTT, was founded in late 80s on swampy land but because it is out of the way and not so well connected with public transport it is not used so much. [Source: Prasanna Bhalerao, Quora.com, April 12, 2017] Mumbai Central Station, formerly Bombay Central Terminus (BCT) and widely known as BCT, is the home to nearly 90 percent of the trains on Western Railway (WR). To ease the congestion at BCT, a new terminus was started at Bandra in the early 90s on the same lines as Kurla LTT. But Bandra terminus is not very popular. Note that there are quite a few trains which just touch Mumbai and bypass it via the Kalyan-Diva-Bhivandi-Vasai link. One can get off at Kalyan, Diva, Bhivandi and Vasai and use these trains to go to Mumbai. Just get off at the stations and travel to Mumbai via public transport: namely Mumbai locals (suburban trains) or BEST buses.

Highways in the Mumbai- Pune Area

Mumbai-Pune Expressway: is also known as Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway. An access-controlled, 6-lane, toll expressway with paved shoulders and a median. Road surface is concrete and in good condition. Speed limit is 80 km/h (50 mph). Only vehicles with at least 4 wheels are permitted to use the road. Links Mumbai and Pune. The road is part of NH-4. Has barbed wire fencing to keep wandering cattle off the road, but residents, desiring to cross the road, have cut the fencing several places. Be alert for pedestrians, cattle or other animals on the road, especially near Vadgaon Maval. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 2010]

Traffic has increased five fold in the last 10 years. High road crash risk, often due to driver error, speeding, lane cutting or burst tires. Radar is used to detect speeding. Road lacks adequate reflectors in high risk areas. Broken down vehicles and heavy goods vehicles, parked on the shoulders, often lack reflectors. Robbery risk continues to be high. Robbers may block the road with stones or throw stones at passing motorists. When drivers stop, robbers attack the occupants. Increased police patrols have reduced robbery risk, but thefts continue. Landslides may block the road, especially during the monsoons season. Highway Helpline: If caught in a traffic jam, use a cell phone to call a highway helpline to get an estimate of when it may clear. Helplines include: Vadgaon: 02114-73822, Khandala: 02114-73822 and Khadki: 020-5819301

Old Pune-Mumbai Highway: Heavily traveled. High road crash injury and fatality rate. Most sections are 4-6 lane in Pune. The section in Pimpri- Chinchwad has been widened to 8-lane. Has four concrete lanes in the center and a 2-lane asphalt-paved service road on each side. This section has no traffic lights or at-grade intersections. The road begins in the center of Pune and ends at Dehu Road. Runs near the railway line.

National Highway 4, NH-4: A 4-lane dual carriageway, passing through Western and Southern India. Links Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states. Makes up about 90 percent of the Golden Quadrilateral’s Mumbai-Chennai segment. Provides access to major cities in India and neighboring countries. Intersects with NH-3 in Thane, NH-8 in Mumbai, NH-9 and NH-50 in Pune, NH-63 in Hubli, NH-48 and NH-7 in Bangalore and NH-5, NH-45 and NH-205 in Chennai. Known as Pune-Bangalore Road or PB Road in Karnataka state. Known as Mumbai-Pune Expressway in Maharashtra state.

National Highway 13, NH 13: Many sections are narrow and winding. Road crash risk is high in these sections. Links Solapur in Maharashtra state to Mangalore in Karnataka state. Intersects with NH-4 in Chitradurga state and NH-17 in Mangalore. Passes through all regions in Karnataka.

National Highway 234, NH-234 is also known as the Mangalore-Villupuram Highway. It Links Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states. Kadur-Kanhangad, and Mudigere-Venkatagiri State highways were upgraded to form the NH-234. Begins in Mangalore at Mahavir Circle. Passes along the NH-48 from Mangalore to B.C. Road. From B.C. Road, it continues to Belthangady, Chintamani, Kota, Katpadi, Polur and ends at Tiruvanamalai-Villupuram in Tamil Nadu. The state highway linking Kadur and Mudigere has not been upgraded to national highway standards.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: India tourism website ( incredibleindia.org), India’s Ministry of Tourism and other government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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