Mumbai (also known as Bombay) is my favourite city in India. Modern and historic, serene and chaotic, it’s a crazy jigsaw puzzle of a place truly worthy of the well-worn cliché “melting pot”. I spent a month in Mumbai, eating from amazing restaurants, grabbing street food snacks on the run, picking up ‘Western’ clothes in the touristy Colaba district and visiting ancient and colonial sites. The colonial influence in Mumbai is a weird juxtaposition: I did not expect to find Cambridge-style buildings and a very English-looking railway station in Mumbai, but there you go. There were also Jewish settlers who left their mark with the beautiful Blue Synagogue, and there’s an Islamic quarter filled with crowded markets , mosques and flatbread stalls.
Favourite sites: Elephanta Island full of ancient caves, statues and carvings; Dhobi ghat (where the city’s washing is done); Chowpatty beach in the evening; St David’s Church; and the historic Napoleon Café in Colaba.
Tip: Getting places in Mumbai can take a while, so bring a book. Consider hiring a car or taxi for the day or taking the train if it stops near your destination. Women note that there are usually Ladies’ Only carriages on the local Mumbai trains, using them can help avoid unwanted attention. Although they are popular, so they do get crowded!
Cons: Congestion. Plenty of other people think Mumbai is the bees knees too, apparently – and they’ve all brought their own car.