Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sightseeing in Mumbai - part 1

I have not been able to update my blog for a long time as hubby and I moved to a new apartment in Yurihonjo City and had been quite busy. Now things are more or less settled and I am back to blogging. As I wrote in two posts (check here and here) in March, hubby and I had been to India during New Year Holidays. We visited my parents in India and also did some sightseeing in Mumbai and Pune. In this post I will write about the sightseeing places in Mumbai that hubby and I visited on 30th December 2013. More specifically, I will write about the morning time sightseeing in this post, and about the afternoon sightseeing in the next post.

On the morning of 30th December, hubby and I hired a taxi for about 8 hours and visited the must-see sightseeing places in Mumbai. The taxi driver was very helpful and he recommended the places we should visit. First we went to Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat. Dhobi Ghat is a well known massive open-air Laundromat which was formed in 1890. The Dhobis (washer-men) work in open and hand-wash the dirty laundry brought from all over Mumbai. There are rows and rows of open-air concrete wash troughs fitted with flogging stones. It is possible for the visitors to take the stairs and go right down to observe the working of about 500 Dhobis simultaneously hand-washing clothes at a single location. However, hubby was extremely uncomfortable to see the poverty all around and so we decided to skip going down.
Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat as seen from an adjacent road

Another view of Dhobi Ghat

We can see rows of concrete troughs as well as rows of washed clothes hanging from the clotheslines

Next, we stopped our taxi to see the Bombay Municipal Corporation Building. It is a Grade II A heritage building. The building houses the civic body that governs the city of Mumbai, which is now named as the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika. The building has a Gothic revival architectural style, and is V-shaped when viewed from the top. Its construction started in 1884 and was completed in 1893. The building has golden-beige basalt rock exterior structural system, and is well known for its tower that is 77.7 meters tall. We got a picturesque view of the building and the roads in front of it, and took a few photos of the building.
Bombay Municipal Corporation Building and the roads in front of it

The building and I

Opposite to Bombay Municipal Corporation Building, we saw the famous building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). CST is an historic railway station in Mumbai and serves as the headquarters of the Central Railway. CST was formerly known as Victoria Terminus (VT), and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architectural style of the building is Indo-Saracenic and is an outstanding example of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture blended with traditional Indian Mughal architecture and Hindu architecture. The construction of the building started in 1878 and was completed in 1888. The building was constructed to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s accession to throne. We walked right up to the entrance gate of the building and loved viewing the unique architecture of the building with its remarkable stone dome, turrets, and pointed arches. We took several photos of the building up close from various positions and angles. Next we crossed a road and took a few photos of the building from afar. Afterwards we went inside the station building and were impressed by the huge ornate pillars and the exquisite ceiling of the building. Presently CST is the busiest railway station in India that serves as a terminal for both long-distance trains and commuter trains of Mumbai Suburban Railway. CST has 18 platforms, of which 7 are for locals trains and 11 are for long distance.
Portion of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus building to our left side as viewed from up close

Portion of the building right in front of us

Hubby standing at the entrance area of the building

The building is the headquarters of the Central Railway

I am standing in front of the entrance area of the building

A portion of the building as viewed from afar after crossing a road

Hubby and the building

Front view of the building as viewed from afar

We and the CST building

Ornate pillars inside the building

Exquisite ceiling of the building

Crowd at the platform area

A train at one of the platforms

Next, we stopped our taxi for a moment to take a look at a fountain named Flora Fountain. The fountain is located at Hutatma Chowk, and is an ornate exquisitely sculpted monument. The fountain is a fusion of water, architecture and sculpture, and depicts the Roman goddess Flora. It was built is 1864 and has an architectural style of Neo Classical and Gothic Revival. It was sculpted in imported Portland stone and coated with white oil paint. The fountain looked so wonderful.
Flora Fountain

Next we visited the most famous monument of Mumbai, the Gateway of India, which is a major tourist destination. It is located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder port area in South Mumbai and overlooks the Arabian Sea. The foundation stone for the gateway was laid in March 1911. The gateway was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai, when they visited India in December 1911. However, they only saw the cardboard model of the structure because the actual construction started only in 1915 and was completed in 1924. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style, which combined the elements of the Roman triumphal arch and the 16th century architecture of Gujarat. Its design is a combination of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles; the arch is of Muslim style while the decorations are of Hindu style. The gateway was built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. The central dome is the main part of the gateway, which is 15 meters in diameter and 26 meters high. The gateway faces out to Mumbai Harbor from the tip of Apollo Bunder. In fact behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water where visitors can get onto the motor launches for a short cruise through Mumbai's natural harbor or go up to Elephanta Caves. We loved viewing the gateway and took several photos from various positions and angles. Opposite to the gateway we saw the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was a 17th century king and is a symbol of ‘Maratha pride and courage’. The statue was unveiled on 26 January 1961.
I am standing in front of the Gateway of India

Hubby standing in front of the gateway

Side view of the gateway

The gateway as viewed from up close

The opposite side of the gateway facing the Arabian Sea as viewed from up close

Hubby standing near the gateway facing the Arabian Sea

Many motorized launches in Mumbai Harbor

Statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj located opposite to the gateway

From the Gateway of India, we got a beautiful view of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. It is a five star hotel located next to the gateway, and has 560 rooms and 44 suites. The hotel has two distinct buildings named the Taj Mahal Palace and the Taj Mahal Tower. The two buildings were built at different times and have different architectural designs. The Taj Mahal Palace building has Indo-Saracenic architectural style, has seven floors, and was opened in December 1903. On 26 November 2008, in a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, this building was attacked and some material damage occurred, but it has now been rebuilt. The Taj Mahal Tower building was constructed in 1973 and has 22 floors. Standing at the Gateway of India, we took a few photos of the hotel buildings.
The Taj Mahal Palace (left), the Taj Mahal Tower (right), and I (foreground)

Hubby along with the hotel buildings in the background

Hubby and the Taj Mahal Palace Building

The taxi driver had parked the taxi about 1.5 kilometers away from the Gateway of India as all the nearby parking areas were full. While walking back towards the taxi, we saw several magnificent historical buildings around us. In fact, Victorian era buildings are common features in the streets of Mumbai, forming a somber contrast against the vibrant landscape. To our left side, we saw a building named Hotel Majestic. The building has Indo-Saracenic architectural style and features domed minarets. It was constructed in 1909 with 96 bedrooms and two electric elevators. It is a Grade II A heritage building. It now houses the state owned cooperative general store named Sahakari Bhandar and also functions as an MLA hostel. To our right side, we saw another building named Indian Mercantile Chambers which houses the offices of the State Excise Department, a cafe, and a book house. It was originally known as the Waterloo Mansions and was built exclusively for residential purposes. Its architectural style is Gothic with turrets (which have gone missing), pointed arches and black stone facades. These two buildings were the most photographed pieces of architecture in the city during the early 20th century. On our way, we also saw a statue of Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Two Victorian era buildings

Hotel Majestic located to our left side

Indian Mercantile Chambers building located to our right side

Statue of Lal Bahadur Shastri

Afterwards, our taxi driver took us to a restaurant where we had a simple lunch of chicken Biryani, chicken curry, Dal, Roti, omelet, and salad.
Our lunch

Hubby having lunch

We had fun visiting various historical places and structures in Mumbai. In the afternoon, we saw several more sightseeing places about which I will write in the next post.


Mumbai Photographer said...

Hi Manisha, nice to read about your visit and photos from Mumbai. Quite interesting to note, that unlike in a developed country where we quite literally trust a stranger to click a photo with our camera - in India that´s not the case.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks 'Mumbai Photographer' for your comment. Oh I did not know about it. Probably because I did not really notice it. While in India I was a student (about 20 years ago) and hardly had money to buy camera or indulge in sightseeing. So all my 'camera-manners' I learned in Japan. Here in Japan it is generally considered extremely rude to ask others to click our photo, unless the stranger themselves help. So hubby and I both of us are not used to ask others to click our photo. That is why I click his photo and he clicks mine :) ...At least for us, it is not a trust-issue but the social-manners issue that we are used to. But we did ask a guy to click our photo near VT station in India :)