When Lauren and I were planning our trip to India, Mumbai was a question mark. We weren’t sure we had enough time to include Mumbai into our trip or that there was much to see. We are so glad we ended up including it into our itinerary because Mumbai was fantastic. We had not arranged ahead of time to have a guide or driver in Mumbai, thinking we could wing it on our own for a couple of days. After spending 10 days in India and seeing how difficult it was to get around in traffic and how uncomfortable it was as single women to travel around the cities, we called our tour company in Rajasthan and asked if they could provide a guide and driver for a couple of days to take us to the main sites. We stayed at the historic Taj Mahal Hotel which overlooks the Gateway to India. The very hotel that was attacked and set on fire by terrorists in 2008 but has since been restored to its original grandeur.
We arrived at the hotel in the morning and met our guide who was female (which Lauren and I were happy about because we knew she would know where the good shopping was) for our first excursion before lunch. Our first stop was Elephanta Caves which required a 1 hour ferry ride across the bay to get to. Everyone we talked to when planning our trip said this was a must see site in India. Elephanta Caves is a network of rock cut stone sculptures dedicated to the God Shiva.
It took the rest of the day to visit the caves and take the ferry back to Mumbai Harbor and to our hotel. We got a recommendation from our guide for a good restaurant for dinner and she said it would be an easy walk from our hotel. So with her handwritten directions in hand, we set out on foot to find the restaurant. The fact that we were walking around the city was significant because until Mumbai, Lauren and I did not feel very comfortable walking around the cities and towns we were visiting. We found the restaurant and had a fantastic meal and walked back to our hotel in the dark. Along the way, we encountered an Art Festival and were really entertained by the music and exhibits especially a maze that we could walk through made out of plastic water bottles.
The next morning after breakfast, our guide picked us up for a city tour. Our first stop was the Victoria Railway Station which was like watching a movie in fast forward. So many people all moving in a hurried pace coming and going.
We then visited Ghandi’s home which is now a Museum. Other sites we visited was the Dobi Ghat – an extensive outdoor laundry system built during the war and we were fortunate to see the Tiffin men delivering lunches throughout the city. Afterwards our guide took us to some great shopping places for clothes and jewelry.
Mumbai is a very cosmopolitan city and a lot more modern than Delhi or the Rajasthani cities. Lauren and I wished we had a little more time in Mumbai, a couple of more days would have been perfect.