Introducing Mumbai (Bombay)
Mumbai is big. It’s full of dreamers and hard-labourers, starlets and gangsters, stray dogs and exotic birds, artists and servants and fisherfolk and crorepatis (millionaires) and lots and lots of other people. It has the most prolific film industry, some of Asia’s biggest slums (and the world’s most expensive home) and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone. It’s India’s financial powerhouse, fashion epicentre and a pulse point of religious tension. It’s evolved its own language, Bambaiyya Hindi, which is a mix of…everything.
But Mumbai does not have to be overwhelming: it just has its own rhythm, which takes a little while to hear. Just give yourself some time to appreciate the city’s lilting cadences, its harmonies of excess and restraint, and before you know it, Mumbai might just decide to take you in like you’re one of her own.
Need to know
In the middle of Mumbai Harbour, 9km northeast of the Gateway of India, the rock-cut temples on Elephanta Island (Indian/foreigner Rs 10/250; caves 9am-5.30pm Tue-Sun) are a spectacle worth crossing the waters for. Home to a labyrinth of cave-temples carved into the basalt rock of the island, the artwork represents some of the most impressive temple carving in all India.