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A tourist’s check-list in Mumbai

November 28, 2017 01:41 am | Updated 01:54 pm IST

The Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Colaba

Portal to the city

Mumbai, 1707/2017: Landmark heritage structure Gateway of India reflected in the accumulated water after havy rainfall in Mumbai. 
Photo: Emmanual Yogini

Mumbai, 1707/2017: Landmark heritage structure Gateway of India reflected in the accumulated water after havy rainfall in Mumbai. Photo: Emmanual Yogini

The 1911 edifice built to welcome King George V and Queen Mary, and the newer plaza around it is always crowded with tourists and locals alike. It can be your gateway outward as well: you can take boat rides, just around the bay if you want, or to Mandwa on the mainland, and from there to Alibag or beaches further south, or to Elephanta island, to see caves with Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and iconography, and carvings narrating mythological tales. Or you could just wander down the waterfront, and sample the many restaurants in Colaba’s bylanes, including the kebab haven Bademiya.

Right next to the plaza is The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai’s grandest five-star hotel, which has hosted dignitaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and continues to be a temporary home to celebrities and the well-heeled from across the world. In 2017, the hotel acquired an image trademark, making it the first structure in the country to get its architectural design protected by intellectual property rights. 

Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan & Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla

Animals, and the past

17/05/2017 MUMBAI: International Museum Day on May 18th  which was created with an aim of raising awareness of the importance of museums in the development of society.   The 133-year-old Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (the erstwhile Victoria and Albert Museum) has received the ?Award of Excellence? in the 2005 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. The Museum is a fine example of a Palladium-style building with an ornate Victorian interior, extensively gilded with gold. Phot: Paul Noronha

17/05/2017 MUMBAI: International Museum Day on May 18th which was created with an aim of raising awareness of the importance of museums in the development of society. The 133-year-old Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (the erstwhile Victoria and Albert Museum) has received the ?Award of Excellence? in the 2005 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. The Museum is a fine example of a Palladium-style building with an ornate Victorian interior, extensively gilded with gold. Phot: Paul Noronha

The city’s zoo, known also by a shorter name, Jijamata Udyan, or as some call it affectionately, Rani Baug (it was once named for Queen Victoria, before being renamed to honour Shivaji’s mother) is not much joy for animal lovers or environmentalists, with its animals living in deplorable conditions. In 2016-17 alone, the zoo lost 77 animals, birds and reptiles. A new attraction is the penguin house, home to Humboldt penguins.

Sharing the grounds is the city’s oldest museum, built in 1872, and formerly known as the Victoria and Albert museum. It got a makeover in 2014, and now, in addition to housing treasures of the past, it hosts art shows and cultural events. The museum’s exteriors sport Palladian architecture and, inside, intricate woodcarvings, etched glass and Minton tiled flooring. The collections include a 17th-century manuscript of Hatim Tai, a famous Arab poet, and in its gardens is a monolithic basalt elephant sculpture recovered from the sea, originally a part of Elephanta Island. Lining a lawn are statues from the Raj era, moved from their original locations around the city during the 50s and 60s. 

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali

A genuine urban jungle

Mumbai 11/03/2017:  The Maharashtra forest department's Mumbaikars for Sanjay Gandhi National Park project focuses on mitigating human- leopard conflict through collaboration with differant collaborators as part of the project includes a forest trail ,on Saturday.
 Photo:  Vasant Prabhu

Mumbai 11/03/2017: The Maharashtra forest department's Mumbaikars for Sanjay Gandhi National Park project focuses on mitigating human- leopard conflict through collaboration with differant collaborators as part of the project includes a forest trail ,on Saturday. Photo: Vasant Prabhu

In the middle of one of the world’s most congested metropolitan areas, this park sprawls across the north of the island city, separating the northern half into the eastern and western suburbs, with two of the city’s largest lakes, Tulsi and Vihar, nestled in the jungle. It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including leopards, spotted deer, Indian flying foxes, Hanuman langurs and sambar, and of course countless smaller life forms. Visitors can take a safari to see lions and tigers, but these big cats are in fenced enclosures. Alternatively, you can hike or cycle through the safer parts. One of its attractions, particularly for kids, is The Van Rani toy train, that takes a short circuit around a part of the forest, covering the Gandhi tekdi hillock. Also within the forest are the Kanheri Caves, a group of natural caves and rock-cut carvings, more than 2,000 years old, with Buddhist carvings and inscriptions. Adjoining part of the park is the Aarey Forest, also a protected area, but not as thickly forested with a road through its centre. 

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Fort

Halls of history

   Attn:  For SUNDAY MAGAZINE   ( Mumbai Museum) The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya   Photo: Paul Noronha

Attn: For SUNDAY MAGAZINE ( Mumbai Museum) The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Photo: Paul Noronha

Originally the Prince of Wales Museum, it was paid for by prominent citizens to commemorate the visit of the then-Prince of Wales (the future George V), who laid the foundation stone in 1905. It was designed by George Wittet, who had worked on the General Post Office and would later design the Gateway of India. Completed in 1915, it first served as a military hospital during World War I, and only opened in 1922. The CSMVS has a massive collection of 50,000 artefacts chronicling Indian history as far back as the Indus Valley civilisation, as well as antiquities from other lands. The exhibits are in three broad categories, archaeology, art, and natural history. And the building itself is a Grade I heritage structure. Over the last decade, the museum has also created five new galleries for permanent exhibits, plus a visiting exhibition gallery and a seminar room, and regularly hosts lectures, exhibitions, performances and other arts- and culture-related activities. 

Moghul Masjid, Dongri

From Persia, with reverence

Deep in the heart of Dongri, a Shia-dominated area, this architectural marvel is the main centre for the Ishna Ashari Shia Muslims in the city. During the 10 days of Moharram — the mourning period commemorating the sacrifice of Husayn ibn Ali, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson — it attracts huge throngs of the faithful. The mosque’s exterior is typical of Iranian architecture, with two minarets and no dome, and mirrors that of the mosque in Shiraz, Iran. It was built in 1860, by a wealthy Iranian merchant, Haji Mohammad Hussain Shirazi. All the material, from the opulent three-tier chandeliers, to the carpets and blue mosaic tiles, were imported from Iran. The walls of have been engraved with verses from the Qur’an. It reserved a space for women, setting a precedent for other conservative places of worship. The mosque also has the last functional hamam, or Turkish Bath, in the city, which will cost a visitor ₹150.

 

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