With a deep natural harbor on India’s western coast, Mumbai (which many locals still call Bombay) welcomes cruise ships to an enormous city that’s overflowing with things to see and do. In fact, Holland America’s 2017 Grand World Voyage will dock overnight in Mumbai, giving guests more time to revel in the city’s history and diversity.
A city of this size – more than 18 million people – is challenging to navigate on your own, and it’s probably best to experience it via an organized excursion.
A tour of the city will begin with a visit to its most famous monument, the Gateway of India, built to commemorate a 1911 visit by King George V and Queen Mary. Right across the road is the majestic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a 5-star property with a famous floating staircase. Victoria Terminus, a beautiful Gothic Revival railway station built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, is the largest in Mumbai; trains come from and depart to all of the states of India.
More sights include Marine Drive, Mumbai’s seaside promenade; the Jain temple on Malabar Hill, considered by many to be the most beautiful temple in the city; and the Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill, where there are lovely views out over the Arabian Sea.
To spend a day exploring Indian history, start with Mani Bhavan, a house where Mahatma Gandhi stayed when he was in Mumbai. It’s now a museum and research center dedicated to his life and practice of non-violent civil disobedience. There are photos, books and exhibits that celebrate the man who brought independence to India; the room where he worked and slept is still as he left it.
In contrast to the small Mani Bhavan, the Shivaji Museum, also called the Prince of Wales Museum, houses 50,000 art, archaeology and natural history exhibits that showcase Indian history. Markets
It’s easy to spend an entire day browsing the markets and bazaars of Mumbai. The Crawford Market is known for its textile section, a visual riot of fabrics and colors. Just north of Crawford Market is the Zaveri Bazaar, its narrow lanes lined with hundreds of jewelry shops selling beautiful creations of gold and precious gems. If you love the flavors of Indian food, visit a spice market and be enveloped by the aromas of chili powder, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, mustard, cloves and more.
Places of Worship
Mumbai is a city of many faiths, including a variety of Hindu denominations. Visit ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness), a modern place of complex based on devotion to the god Krishna. The Mahalakshmi Temple dates from 1831 and is dedicated to the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity (both material and spiritual). Inside, images of Mahalakshmi and the goddesses Mahakali and Mahasaraswathi are adorned with nose rings, gold bangles and pearl necklaces. Babulnath Temple, devoted to the god Shiva, is one of the oldest in Mumbai. The present structure was built in 1890, but a temple has been on the site since the 12th century.
In 1534, Portuguese invaders landed on an island in Mumbai harbor that they called “Elephanta” after a large statue of an elephant near the place they came ashore. They also found an incredible series of rock-cut caves, full of beautiful carvings and sculptures, used as places of worship by Hindus and Buddhists. The Portuguese were not kind to the caves, and most are still damaged, but the main cave has been restored. Detailed carvings depict legends of the Hindu god Shiva: the Trimurti sculpture of a three-faced Shiva is considered to be a masterpiece.Evening in Mumbai
An overnight stay in Mumbai provides a chance to enjoy the twilight and the graceful curve of Marine Drive: when the lights are on, you’ll see why it’s also called “The Queen’s Necklace.” Many of the city’s Victorian-era buildings are illuminated, too, and you can admire them on the way to a restaurant to enjoy a dinner full of the delicate flavor combinations of Indian cuisine.
An overnight visit to Mumbai may also provide the opportunity to venture inland; perhaps to see the stunning Taj Mahal in Agra.
Whether you visit during the Holland America 2017 World Cruise or on another cruise, our team is here to help plan you perfect stop!