Mumbai is an incredible city. And I do not say this because I was born and brought up there.
But the fact of the matter is that the city holds a very very special place in my heart. For me it’s like a love affair that will always continue even though I don’t live there anymore. (how I wish I was)
The city though is a ‘dream city’ and its not just because of being home to the biggest film industry of the country. The city has an electric, energetic, and throbbing vibe that you just can’t miss. The city is life itself. And no other city in India can hold a candle to the vibrancy that Mumbai has.
You can sense the little hearts around my eyes don’t you?
And the best part about the city is the people living there. They go about their business very seriously yet having loads of fun at the same time. The people make this city what it is. Their spirit is undeniably perhaps the one thing that other people find most unbelievable about Mumbai.
They have survived bad infrastructure, floods and repeated terrorist attacks, only to go back to work the very next day. Not something you’d see in a lot of other countries, and something that continues to startle other people to this day.
Here are a few gems of the ‘maximum city’ that you probably didn’t know about.
It Was An Island!
Yes! Mumbai was a name denoted by 7 closely located islands which were Portuguese territories until the 16th century. In 1961, Portuguese gave England these 7 islands as dowry in Catherine of Braganza & Charles II marriage. Around 60 years (1784-1845) were taken to combine these 7 islands into a coastal city.
First Train in India!
On 16 April 1853, Bombay (now Mumbai) witnessed first train movement in India. With 14 carriages & 400 passengers left Bori Bunder (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal- CST ) for Thane in Maharashtra. Bombay (now Mumbai) also witnessed India’s 1st rail bridge.
Sprawling slums and the rich-poor divide!
I know, I know, what could I say about Mumbai’s slums that hasn’t already been spoken, written or sung about in articles, films or music videos? The slums have been analyzed, studied, investigated, dissected, condemned, saved, conserved, exploited and celebrated — but there’s no denying their place on this list. Dharavi, once Asia’s largest slum and housing nearly 300,000 people, and the slums in other areas of Kurla-Ghatkopar, Mankhurd-Govandi and Bhandup-Mulund — all larger than Dharavi — account for more than half of Mumbai’s population of close to 13 million people. Another Mumbai cliché that never fails to amaze visitors is the rich-poor juxtaposition. Where else in the country, or the world, can you find slums or shanties, next to multi-million (and now multi-billion) dollar homes and hotels?
National park in the middle of the city!
Leopards, deer and monkeys right in the heart of Mumbai. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is a unique 104-square-kilometer park within a metropolitan area, -a protected forested area that houses around 5,000 insect species, 1,000 plants species, 250 bird species, 40 mammal species, 38 reptile species, nine amphibian species and ancient Buddhist caves going back to the first century. In fact, Mumbai may be the only city in the world to have a fully functioning national park with freely roaming large carnivores, within city limits.
A Geological Wonder in the Heart of the City!
Located in the Andheri West, the unique Gilbert Hill is a 200 ft single column of black basalt rock. Also referred to as Gilbert’s Toe, the hills is more like a sudden protrusion from the ground with a sheer vertical face around it. It was formed a little over 65 million years ago when molten lava was gushed out of the crust and cooled, during the Mesozoic Era.
Secret Tunnels and Escape Routes!
South Mumbai still retains its old world charm, filled with beautiful colonial-era buildings and other monuments. Not surprisingly, it has also clung on to some secrets. An underground passage speculated to be dating back to 200 years was built by the British who were worried about a possible French invasion. The entrance to the tunnel and its existence only came to light a few years back , when it was discovered below, what is today, Mumbai’s General Post Office (GPO).
Colaba Railway Station!
Ask any youngster in Mumbai and it’s likely that he /she hasn’t even heard about Colaba station. Although long forgotten, Colaba once had its own railway terminus, and began operations in 1893 .It was housed in an imposing stone building with high towers, just adjacent to Wodehouse Road and next to Sassoon Docks. As the city kept expanding and reclamation efforts accelerated, the rail line between Colaba and Churchgate had to be severed, to make way for the creation of Backbay Reclamation.
Best Food Suppliers in the World!
If you ever travel to Mumbai and notice a person wearing a white cap and holding too many lunchboxes or tiffins as they are known by, you might wonder what will he do with these many lunch boxes? Known as Dabbawalas these people are a part of the giant organization. They collect the tiffins of food from homes to reach the customers office and return back with empty tiffins back to the homes, efficiently without any flaw. Every day they transfer 260,000 dabbas only in 6 hours. They work 52 weeks of a year and more impressively have got a six sigma compliant. Usually transporting these dabbas by the local train they get only 40 seconds to load and unload these boxes. They have been doing it since 1890 every day at a very steady rate. But what is even more surprising is that even after their average literacy being of 8th grade, they are chosen for various management case studies and their management skills are discussed in colleges like Harvard and Stanford.
Many places of Worship!
Mumbaiites are very proud of their cosmopolitan culture and their embrace of religious diversity. This is one of Mumbai’s proud traditions, with temples, mosques, gurudwaras, and churches to be found in almost every corner of the city. In the older areas you will also find fire temples and synagogues. What most of the city’s inhabitants do not realize is that Mumbai is also home to Chinese and Japanese temples that date back to the colonial era. At the time, Mumbai was an international trade hub, attracting merchants from across the world. Many lived and worshipped in the city. In the Mazgaon area, you will find Kwan Tai Shek, a Chinese temple, while at Worli Naka, you will find Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist Temple.
So the next time you are traveling through Mumbai, look around and soak in the rich history. These interesting facts should enrich your experience and help you appreciate the amazing city.