Welcome to Mumbai
Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is India's eastern gateway and, with a metropolitan population of more than 20 million, an accurate introduction to the country's unique mix of madness and majesty. Both a booming financial center and the heart of the Bollywood film industry, Mumbai attracts ambitious professionals, hipsters, and hopefuls from around the world. But it is also home to some of India's largest and poorest slums. Many of Mumbai's tourist attractions are centered around Colaba, the rounded tip of the peninsula that juts out into the Arabian Sea. While parts of the city are walkable, a sightseeing tour by air-conditioned vehicle will help you avoid the extreme heat and air pollution. Historical highlights include the iconic Gateway of India, which overlooks the harbor; Victoria Terminus, the city's gothic architectural masterpiece; and the 14th-century Haji Ali Mosque. Take a private street food tour to sample spicy and savory snacks such as South Indian dosa and panipuri, as well as typical sweets like jalebi (deep-fried pastry covered in syrup) or rasgulla, a sweet-cheese dumpling. When you're ready to return to air-conditioned comfort, tea at the grand Taj Mahal Palace Hotel makes a perfect afternoon break. For a slightly longer urban escape, some of the best options are tours of the rock-carved monuments nearby: the UNESCO-listed Elephanta Caves are just across the harbor at Elephanta Island, while Kanheri Caves and the Bhaja and Karla Caves lie north, within the green respite of Sanjay Ghandi National Park.