Often termed the 'New York of India', Mumbai as a city has the highest population in India and is an unusual combination of extreme poverty and glamorous wealth. Streets of Bombay Gothic look out onto the Arabian Sea in the shadow of the Gateway to India, a constant reminder of the British presence in India. Originally 7 islands, the city originally termed Bombay is condensed in history; its trading advantages within the Empire, Mughal influence and the devastating effects of the plague, all of which are still evident today. An unimaginable amount of traffic and a sometimes unbearable population of 12 million, Mumbai is not for the faint hearted, but beneath the layers of dirt and poverty there is an honesty and optimism in the millions of the locals.
It's not somewhere I'd recommend for a sunny holiday, limited public transport, the sheer amount of people and overwhelming poverty, however Mumbai does have some incredible museums and beautiful colonial architecture. What shocked me the most about Mumbai however, is the sharp contrast between multi-million shopping centres lined with pristine designer stores, and slums ridden with rats and roaming farm animals, of which sometimes are only a road apart. What is apparent however, is the optimistic energy within the city, a rapidly growing economy is putting India on the map as a subcontinent of opportunity, Mumbai as a city of trade and growth is an emblem of India's success.
CURRENCY: Indian Rupee (Can only be purchased within India)
£1= roughly 90 INR
LANGUAGE: Marathi or Hindi although there are often vast variations of languages spoken across India
TIME DIFFERENCE: +4.5 Hours
BEST TIME TO VISIT: India can be devastatingly hot and dry so it's often recommended to visit during Monsoon season, whilst it may be very wet, the temperatures are much more bearable.
FLIGHT TIME: Around 12 hours from London but may require multiple flights from other destinations
PRICE RANGE: Exceedingly cheap for street food and most items, if you are an Indian citizen though or have some form of proof of citizenship definitely bring it as prices for entry to museums etc can be up to 10x more for foreigners than Indian citizens.