Beach baby or a Mountain monk?

beach

And this debate will be on for times to come!

This one will never have fair voting. Both locations have huge appealing qualities, and yet every person will have a strong preference for one over the other.

According to a study carried out in University of Virginia it has been revealed that being an extrovert or an introvert actually has an association with deciding the geographical location of their choice of destination.

In fact many writers have traced down a significant way to decide that people who love the beach are more outgoing, energetic and extroverts, while the ones who love the mountains are romantic, self-reserved and introverts! Which is quite an interesting perception, don’t you think?

For example, the beach may sound like an alluring place to be what with its perfectly tanned humans sipping margaritas with pretty hats and laying with umbrella sheds and unwinding near the blue ocean watching the sunset or just calming  your nerves, all by yourself . But then that does sound like the attributes of the introverts, doesn’t it?

So when you ask people what would they choose more, beach or mountains? Trust me, they couldn’t choose!  I believe most can’t, especially the ones who dream to travel the whole world.

You simply cannot frame one attribute to the entire population, each with their emotional pattern and life. But according to me, although there are so many factors deciding your destination, you will eventually go by the calling of your soul at that point of time.

So the question is more like Who You Are, NOW?

What is calling you more, right NOW?

I cannot talk for the rest of you here but I can definitely say this about me though. I just love, love, love being near the beach.

Just watching the horizon expands my mind to the realization of how small I am in the greater scheme of things.

I could spend my days near a beach doing a whole lot of creative stuff or sometimes nothing at all just gazing inwards.

Take Goa for instance, I am never ever tired of going there again and again. It’s always my ‘go to’ destination when I can think of no other.

sinquerim

Whether you are looking for the quieter beaches of  Candolim and Sinquirem , in North Goa , with its hip happening and crazy night life ,or  Benaulim beach in South Goa, with  groovy  music playing in most of its bars and pubs , Goa has it all sorted.

nigh goa

And then there are some days when the mountain beckons. The cool and crisp mountain air, an off-the-beaten path in the natural wonder, or a new adventure trekking the narrow pathways amidst the tall trees sounds very appealing. My last mountain vacay was when my sisters and I went to Lake Tahoe couple of years back.

mt Tallac

We took a 5 mile trek through Van Sickle Bi-State Park which offered hiking on both sides of the California-Nevada border and stunning panoramic views of the South Shore. The views of the lake and the peaks of Mt. Tallac were stunning.

The other trip ,although taken years back is still fresh in my mind. The trek through the lush green forests of Dhanaulti , a small town near Mussoorie, nestled amid the lofty Himalayan peaks, is something that is forever remembered.

Dhanaulti

Irrespective of whether you choose to travel to a beach or the mountains, it’s all about satiating your wanderlust. As long as you are with like minded people, or even alone for that matter, you can enjoy both the experiences, the all night party at the beach or the early morning vision of watching the sunrise from the top of the mountain.

 

🙂

 

What’s your take on this? Do reply in the comments.

 

 

 

PC: Travellersjoy; UttarakhandTourism; GoaTourism

HOW TO? Travel Tips and tricks

bleisure

How to get more comfortable airline seats:

  1. Typically “low cost” carriers have some seats with extra legroom. Book those if you want some space.
  2. Look for the good seats in economy. The exit row and bulkhead seats typically have more room than a standard seat, if you can afford them. The worst seats are the ones in the rear of the aircraft, which don’t recline.
  3. “Premium” seats cost extra, however sometimes you can get an upgrade at the gate if you are lucky.

airline seat

How to find quiet when you travel:

  1. Book where there’s less noise. The front of the aircraft is less noisy and tends to have a quieter kind of passenger (read: business travellers). On a train, look for the quiet cars. 2. Block it. Noise cancelling headsets or ear plugs are a good idea to filter out unwanted noise.
  2. Timing is everything. Don’t expect to get much quiet if you’re in New Orleans around Mardi Gras or in London during the summer break, when every attraction has serpentine queues of students and adults alike.

 What you need to know about minimum connection times:

  1. Minimum connection times are initially set by a group of airlines or by an airport operating committee. The times are built into the airline reservation systems, and are specific to airports or flights.
  2. Times can change if a terminal is under construction or an airport train closes for repairs. It’s always a good idea to check your airline’s airport-specific page for any changes.
  3. They are not a guarantee that your connecting flight won’t leave without you. They are only guidelines that are meant to get you to your destination as quickly as possible

How to write an airline consumer complaint:

  1. Be precise. Include details such as your confirmation code, flight number and travel date.
  2. Explain precisely what you want. Don’t leave the airline guessing. Are you asking them to refund your checked bag fee? Or claiming a delayed baggage allowance?

 Three things airlines won’t tell you about vouchers:

  1. Most carriers will not offer cash for a delayed /cancelled flight. Instead it will try to offer to rebook the flight or give you a voucher.
  2. You may be unable to redeem the voucher on the blackout dates. Read the fine print on the voucher before you agree to it. If you don’t like the terms, ask for a better deal, or a refund.

hotel 3

How to book a hotel the smart way:

  1. Start with a thorough search. Check an Online travel agency like Expedia or Booking.com or call your travel agent. Check the rate against the price your preferred hotel would charge if you book direct.
  2. Review the restrictions. Hotels can impose restrictions for booking through their site, like making their rooms non-refundable, so read the conditions closely before deciding where to go. You might be better off working with a big agency that has negotiated better terms.
  3. Check the incentives. Ask yourself if you really need the points or the upgrade.

 How to spot a fake review:

  1. Check the reviewer’s record. Fake reviews are often posted by accounts with little or no additional review history.
  2. Do check out the photos of the property either through the hotel itself or through people who have stayed on the property.
  3. If you see a one-star or a five-star rating or a lot of superlatives in the description, chances are you’re looking at a fake.

 What you need to know about an apartment hotel:

  1. Amenities. Most apartment hotels have kitchenettes, but they may not have an oven, in-room laundry facilities or separate living room area. Check the property descriptions carefully.
  2. Services. While some of them offer room service, many clean their rooms only weekly.
  3. Policies. Most properties generally don’t charge mandatory “resort” fees. But it’s important to pay attention to their cancellation policies, which can vary.

hotel room 2

How to get a hotel room upgrade:

  1. A special event. Honeymoons rank high on the list. Hotels will try to make your special occasion more memorable if you ask.
  2. A special circumstance. If you’re thinking of coming back to the hotel and bringing a big group with you, mention it. If you’re planning to return again in a month or a year, say something. Anything that sets you apart as a more valued customer can sway a hotel to upgrade you.
  3. A special need. Some of the larger rooms are more disability-friendly. If you need extra room to accommodate a wheelchair, or walker, the only room that might fit you is a suite. Don’t be shy about asking.

car rental

Tips for getting a vehicle when they run out of rental cars:

  1. Confirm your reservation: Contact your car rental agency a day before you arrive. Always bring your reservation confirmation to show the rate you paid. Make a printout, just in case the battery on your phone dies.
  2. Arrive on time: Check in as close as possible to the time indicated on your reservation.

How to get a refund from a travel company:

  1. Patience. Give the company at least a week to respond to your refund request and two credit card billing cycles to pay you.
  2. Persistence. Don’t let months pass by without letting the company know that your money is still missing. If necessary, set a calendar reminder so that you don’t forget.
  3. Politeness. Angry demands for a refund and threats to take a company to court almost always backfire. The company may refer your case to its legal department, where it could linger for weeks or months. Be nice!

 How to select the right travel app for your next trip:

  1. Download from a trusted source. That would be iTunes or Google Play. 2. Read the stars – and the reviews. The best travel apps should have at least four stars. Pay attention to the reviews, more so if you need the app for a specific purpose, like translating a particular language.
  2. Test for any flaws, such as consumption of too much data or battery life or even if is accessible anywhere in the world, before you take it on the road.

bag

How to pack select the right kind of clothes:

  1. Does it match your trip? You definitely won’t need that jacket for your beach vacation, but you surely could use a light windcheater in case it rains. Bug repellents, sunscreens, lip balms, should be the staples if you’re going on an African safari. Simplify your choices of clothes, carrying the essentials rather than over packing the suitcase.

 How to avoid getting robbed on vacation:

  1. Don’t leave your valuables, passports, laptops, ipads, cameras, cash etc in your hotel room open to view. Lock them up in the safe or the suitcase in case you are not using them.
  2. Don’t flash your jewelry, cash etc

How to not look like a tourist (even if you are one):

  1. No maps! Don’t walk around with a giant map in your hands. Instead, keep the map on your phone – and stay cool.
  2. Slow down. Tourists try to do everything in a day. If you stop running, you won’t stand out.

tourist

 

 

 

PC:Getty images;Shutterstock

 

 

Don’t let hidden costs ruin your holiday.

flight-booking-reservations-918x516

Holidays are something everyone looks forward to. My family loves to travel and there is always a budget we have in mind before taking the flight out.

So if ever we are suddenly burdened with additional expenses and unforeseen costs, it irks us. Which is why it’s best to do some research, and read the fine print to build some extra padding in our travel budgets, so we can tide over those pesky hidden costs without ruining our holiday?

  • Reservation

Booking a reservation for your flight or hotel online is so common place now. But whenever you may need to speak to an agent for some clarity on your booking or finding out other details such as booking attractions/car rentals they may often charge you. Much of the times this gets included in your billing as other expenses /taxes and often goes unnoticed. Make sure you know this beforehand.

Tip: Call for clarification or to ask any questions, but book online either directly with the airline or through a third-party site like Expedia or Booking.com. Just check the total price to make sure there’s no booking fee.

  • Refund

Man proposes and God disposes. So many times we have had to cancel plans last minute due to other obligations. And then you either re book or cancel the trip completely and that’s when you end up paying hefty cancellation charges which could be almost close to the actual price of your ticket.

Tip: Some OTA’s offer a 24-hour flexible booking period, during which you can get a refund or change your flight/ hotel without penalty or incurring cancellation charges.

  • Miles

Frequent flyer programs seem to offer great deals, but they’re not so great if you have to pay extra fees for your “free flight”. In addition to fuel charges and airport fees, some airlines will charge you just to use the miles.

Tip: Avoid the fee by booking early or using miles from an airline that doesn’t have time constraints.

  • Extra baggage

Often we get carried away when shopping abroad. Make sure you are within the permissible limits of weight for you checked and cabin baggage lest you end up paying a huge amount of excess baggage charges. Some carriers in the US also charge a rate of $25 upwards per piece of baggage checked in the economy class.

 Tip: Buy yourself a luggage scale to save the hassle by checking if your luggage is overweight in advance. If your luggage is already overweight then you can adjust some things in your carry on baggage before you get to the airport or take out the extra stuff you don’t need at home instead of having to deal with it at the airport.

  •  Currency exchange

Will you exchange money before you travel or use your card to get money out of the ATM when you arrive? Do your research beforehand to ensure you get the best exchange rate. Using ATM’s abroad generally always incurs extra transaction fees each time you withdraw cash. Although some credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, its better you check with the bank beforehand.

Tip: It’s best to travel with a credit card or cash card when travelling abroad as most establishments accept credit/debit cards.

eur-usd-hero

  • Getting to and from the airport

Check if the hotel you are staying at provides pick up and drop service from /to the airport. Make sure to check if its chargeable or part of the package.

Most cities also have public transportation such as bus or train that offer a 2 or 3 or 7 day pass which can be used both for bus and train for easy accessibility.

 

off peak

Tip: Downloading the Uber or a similar app for taxis on your smartphone is the best way to getting around in a new place.

  • Departure Fees

Most departure fees are included in your plane ticket, but not all!  There are quite a few countries that charge a departure fees even if it is not your final destination. These fees may add up quickly, especially if you are travelling to a number of places.  Find out from the airline that you are travelling with if there is any departure fees associated with your flights.

Tip: Keep some currency aside to pay for Departure tax

  • Water

Airport security is too tight to let you bring your water into the boarding area, so if you get thirsty at the gate, you can end up spending $4 or more for a bottle of water.

Have you ever noticed that vending machine prices go up after you go through security? The airport vendors know that you have limited options, and they’ll charge you accordingly. Although you can always get a complimentary beverage on the plane, but sometimes you are either too thirsty or too embaraased to ask for water often served in the small cups again and aigan

Tip: You can’t bring the water in, but an empty bottle is just fine. Pack a reusable water bottle in your carry-on bag, and fill it at a water fountain near your gate.

  • International Roaming Charges

You may or may not plan to make calls back home to family using international roaming. Ever since Whatsapp has included calling through its app it’s become very convenient to use data to make those calls . But you never know when you might need to make local calls so it’s best to take precautions.  You can save yourself a lot of time and effort and money if you contact your service provider and select a plan that allows you international roaming for calls and data use. That way you can ensure if you need to use your phone you won’t be hit with a bill that costs more than your entire holiday.

Tip: Check with your telecom service provider for rates/ plans on international roaming and buy/activate it before you leave your home country.

  • Room Service and Mini Bars

Room service and minibars are an expensive way of having the luxury of food and drink in your hotel room, some hotels have sensors in the fridge so if you even move anything you will be charged for it.  Make sure you always have a few snacks and a bottle of water (bought from the local store) in your room so you don’t get a massive mini bar bill after your stay!

Tip: Find a supermarket nearby to stock up on bottles of water/ snacks .

Hotel-minibar

  • Resort Fee

Believe it or not, many hotels will charge what is known as a “hotel resort fee” upon checkout. Often, this fee will be an extra 10% per night. Thus, even if you have already prepaid through a site like Expedia or TripAdvisor, you will have to pay an extra 10% when you checkout. It’s essentially a higher nightly rate, hidden in the fine print.

Tip: Read the fine print, and remember that all hotels must disclose this fee upon booking. Make sure to consider the fee when you decide if this hotel indeed offers a reasonable rate.

  • Tipping

Eating out at any restaurant could be extra costly depending on what country you are in, the rules relating to tipping are different and before you know it you could have spent a small fortune on service charges.

Tip: Usually anywhere between 15-20% of the bill is followed in most countries.

  • WiFi

Nobody can do without WiFi anymore. Make sure to check out the WiFi rates at your hotel while checking in. Is WiFi included in your hotel for free or is there a daily charge?  If WiFi isn’t included it might be more economical to get a data plan before hand rather than hunting around for  a free internet café or paying hefty bills on your return.

Tip: Free WiFi ranks #1 in the list of desired hotel amenities. Check out the list of amenities before you book the room. I suggest you ask your telecom service provider to suggest a plan for data roaming.

A dollar or two here may not seem like a big deal, and even a twenty dollar fee there might just sound like something you have to tolerate. But guess what? You don’t.

In the end, you can’t get out of all of these expenses, but you can adjust your planning accordingly.

hidden

-Madhavi

 

PC: Citypress;Matador;FairFX;Tripadvisor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A train ride on a loop and a curve

toy-trains-of-india

The crispness of the cool mountain air, traversing through the slow moving train, tranquility amidst the lap of nature with green valley’s surrounding you, the veil of clouds falling on your face kissing your cheeks and filling you with its heady intoxicating mist.

Nothing quite beats the romance of travelling on a steam train or shunting through mountains. It’s no wonder, that the whistles and sounds of a steam engine featuring the humble ‘toy train’ is a staple in many a Bollywood song, even today.

We have to acknowledge the British who not only established their cantonments into the various parts of the Indian subcontinent, but they also developed many hill resorts where they could go for breaks to beat the excruciating heat in the plains.

The rail routes that they laid to reach these hill stations still exist and function with the very same engines and carriages. The Mountain Railways of India are the best example of bold, ingenious engineering solutions for the problem of establishing an effective rail link through a rugged, mountainous terrain. A trip to the hills by rail is a real treat to the eyes, with these 5 amazing mountain rail routes showcasing India’s spectacular landscapes.

1.Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

darjeeling

Inaugurated in 1881 over the beautiful hills of Darjeeling, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, popularly known as the ‘toy train’ is an engineering marvel.

It covers a distance of 88 km in West Bengal from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling in seven-and-a-half hours. The station Ghum is India’s highest railway station having an altitude of 2,257 metres. The route has 8 major bridges, 542 minor bridges and 177 unmanned level crossings. This train has the narrowest of the regular narrow gauge rail tracks and use diesel electric or steam engines.

The Railway received the World Heritage Site status on Dec. 2, 1999.

2. Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

Nilgiri-Mountain

The first leg of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Mettupalayam to Coonoor was opened to traffic in June 1899 and was extended up to Ooty only by 1908. The Nilgiri toy train travels all over the Nilgiri hills aka ‘The Blue Mountains’.

The main features of this meter gauge line are the unique rack rail system, and the equally unique and complicated steam locomotives.

The delightful little train covers a distance of 46 km from Mettupalayam to Ooty in four-and-a-half hours. The real thrill of this train ride is the engine which is at the back pushing the carriages up the hills its twists and turns around the hills, passing through many tunnels, bridges, traversing forests and tea plantations.

On July 15, 2005, UNESCO recognized Nilgiri Mountain Railway as a World Heritage Site.

3. Kalka-Shimla Railway.

kalka

Shimla is a very popular destination with Indians as it was to the British. The Kalka-Shimla Railway line which opened to traffic on Nov. 9, 1903, connects the residents of the plains to the summer capital of British India.

The six-hour-long, 96 km journey, crossing with 101 tunnels, is an engineering masterpiece on narrow gauge and covers many arched bridges and several picturesque stations. The slow movement of this train enables many travellers to sit on the doorway or stick their heads out of the windows to smell the fresh mountain air and enjoy the breathtaking visual of the Himalayas.

On July 7, 2008 the Kalka-Shimla Railway was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

4. Matheran Light Railway.

matheran

The Matheran Light Railway, which connects Neral to Matheran , was opened to traffic in March 1907. The floods in 2005 forced its shut down but it was re-opened in 2007 much to the people’s delight.

This narrow gauge line takes the sharpest curves when compared to any Indian hill railway line. The view along the journey is indeed breathtaking, and the 21 km ride is covered in two hours. The unique feature of the train ride is the One Kiss Tunnel (the only tunnel on the route, which earned its nickname because the tunnel is just long enough to exchange a kiss with one’s partner).

All stations on the route have solar power and wind energy plants,and energy-efficient LED lights and fans. the train travels over forests and mountains to reveal the astounding beauty of Nature.

5. Kangra Valley Railway.

kangra

Commissioned in April 1929, the Kangra Valley Railway line starts at Pathankot (Punjab) and ends at Joginder Nagar(Himachal Pradesh), travelling on a narrow gauge for 9 hours and 20 minutes, covering 164 km.

Apart from the Kalka-Shimla railway it is the second railway that runs through the beautiful hills of Himachal Pradesh. There are only two tunnels on this stretch, which give tourists an opportunity to enjoy the mountains and valleys without any distraction. This railway line, which is famous for its 993 bridges, connects the state with its hydroelectric power house.

darjeeling-06

All the five mountain railways of India are around a hundred years old. These train trips epitomize the old saying about the journey being as memorable as the destination. There are intriguing stops along each of these lines, leaving it up to the traveller to have nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the scenery.

 

 

 

 

PC: Better India; Tripadvisor; Wikimedia; Travel Leisure India;Discover My Travel

 

 

Sustainable Tourism

queens necklace

Mumbai’s Marine Drive has a curvy, 3.6 km long boulevard and is perhaps, one of the most famous landmarks in the city.

Popularly known as the Queen’s Necklace,  when the coastline gets lit up in the evenings, is an essential on every tourist’s itinerary or for that matter even the locals as they love taking a casual stroll around the periphery of the Marine Drive or simply sitting by the Arabian sea watching the sunset.

However, the same Marine Drive is now in the news, albeit for the wrong reasons. Recently the Arabian Sea washed up more than two lakh kilograms of garbage on the shoreline after the recent high tide.

mumbai

Needless to say, it was the same litter that people tossed in the sea and other water bodies.

However, Mumbai is not the only city that has been grappling with the issue of sea pollution. In 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage, a long stretch of area in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, created waves on the internet for the shocking amount of garbage it contains that is choking all the marine life.

pacific

All this reiterates that it is high time both tourists as well as local citizens and government bodies , take the responsibility  to maintain the sanctity of the destinations specially those that are abundant in natural resources and find ways and means to reduce the impact of ecological degradation.

The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. The Aayog supports a cooperative federal structure where the Center and the States prepare development policies together.

Under its vision documents for 2017-2024, one of the focuses is on the impacts of mass tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) in particular.

NMSHE

IHR is significant for India. Stretching for about 2,400 kilometres, the IHR extends from the Indus River in the west to the Brahmaputra River in the east. It covers 10 mountain states and four hill districts of India that make up the country’s north and north-eastern borders.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh , Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya , Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the part of the IHR.

IHR also shares borders with six neighbouring countries (China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh)

Springs

With its towering snow-laden peaks, majestic landscapes, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage, the Indian Himalayan Region has regularly drawn visitors and pilgrims from the Indian sub-continent and across the world. Every year an average of about 100 million tourists visit the ecologically sensitive area which is home to about 50 million people.  This number will soon be touching the 240 million mark in seven years, putting a huge pressure on the state’s natural resources.

himalayas

Some of the proposals of NITI aayog in promotion of Sustainable Tourism in IHR are:-

  • Disaster management and Pollution control (including Climate Change)
  • Visitor Control Mechanism to track the number of visitors every year.
  • Tourist Traffic Management Mechanism to forecast and manage vehicular traffic in the destination.
  • Recommended introduction of a “green cess” from consumers to increase tax revenue and assist in maintaining critical services
  • A zero waste policy to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste.
  • Mapping and revival of springs across the Himalayas
  • Ensuring that infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants, and road and rail networks in forest areas are ecologically friendly.
  • Controlling decibel levels (No loud talking or music in protected areas).
  • Resource and Ecology management mechanism, to conserve biology as well as, restore ecology for better management of natural resources and biodiversity.

himalayan-glacier

Tourism is a very complex industry involving numerous stakeholders and requiring significant amount of resources. As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The need for sustainable planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

Source Credits : NITI Aayog
PC;NDTV;Reddit;wwf.org.au;Countercurrents.org;NMSHE; Downtoearth.org;

Mumbai- My heartbeat!

gateway

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!

mumbai-final

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!

train

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!

mumbai slum

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!

Sanjay-Gandhi-National-Park

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!

gilbert

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!

20-GPO-Mumbai

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!

colaba-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!

Dabbawala

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!

pagoda-mumbai

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.

mumbai bandra

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.

 

Madhavi

 

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