Give yourself time!
A vast and varied country full of stimulation, anguish, frustration and fascination. Love it!
Being a Brit I have always trodden carefully in India given the colonial past. Yet I am nearly always amazed at the warm welcome and positive view of most things British. The respect for the colonial era always seems more than my blunt analysis does. I can’t believe it was anything more than an awful, unjust period of history that I studied at school and college.
So when in Mumbai recently taking about it to a 20 something Indian (thus born 50+ years after the end of British rule) and he summarizes things saying ” if we’d had 20 more years of British rule the infrastructure of the country would be much better”, I never quite know what to say!
Prepartion, 3 Tips:
- Click Here for India Gallery
- You’ll likely need help planning a trip as its complicated and getting around and getting reservations for things like Indian Railways need doing in advance
- Read and read more about the peoples of India, their different traditions and history
- Consider making a donation to a suitable charity before you go. You will see mass poverty, hardship and people struggling to make a living. As much as you may want to – you can’t solve the problem there.
Formerly named Bombay by the British, meaning ‘good bay’ and before that similarly named by the Portuguese. It was and is the Gateway to India and its likely it might be your first place of entry too. Its worth exploring this busy, chaotic, congested, but historically important massive city of 20 + million people.
There are many great sights and interesting places and museums to see. Check out:
- Mani Bhavan – Ghandi’s small house. This is the place where I spotted the letter from Gandhi to Hitler in 1939 – this letter hit home for me as it was 4 days before my Dad’s 18th birthday and confirmed his next 6 years or so as RAF aircrew.
- Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, abbreviated CSMVS and formerly named the Prince of Wales Museum , nearby is the …Gateway to Indian Arch and from there you can take a boat into the harbour to various place
- Even if you are not staying at the Taj Hotel, its worth going through the security to have wander around it.
- At the back of the hotel is the hippie Leopold Cafe place to hand out!
- Nearby and a bit more upscale is the Cafe Royal
- Wander around the Oval Maiden and see the cricket matches. Many lovely Victorian Buildings surround this area of calm, such as the Supreme Court, Churchgate station and more
- Take a stroll along Marine drive. Especially in the evening it is very pretty and where locals go for a stroll and sit and watch a sunset. Look out for Wankhede Stadium! Its the vast cricket ground, if there is an IPL match on , you will know!
Trip Advisor : Always take with a bit pinch of salt!
So according to TripAdvisor one of the ‘top ten’ sights in Mumbai was the BEST Museum, so being a transportation nerd off I set. There seemed to be no option but Uber to the remote suburb.
The concerned driver could not believe where it was and initially would not let me out until he had ascertained that on the 3rd floor of a scruffy bus garage was the inadptly named BEST Museum. Actually it is a part of Bombay’s history and had a few fascinating exhibits.
The Curator (and Assistant) were delighted to welcome me!
I was the first visitor for 3 days mind you.
If adventurous try it!
Getting around Mumbai:
Sadly there is limited tourist friendly mass transit . The commuter railway is an amazing operation – carrying the equivalent of the population daily. Off peak and at weekends you may use it. But avoid at rush hours as with doors that never close and masses of people it can become hazardous. (On a Saturday I bought an all line pass for about $4 though! It was quite the adventure!) They are building various new railways, monorails and a bus connection to the airport, but buses are tough to ride and work out! Although at the south end of the peninsula they are simply going north of south and I managed to use them pretty easily there, for fun.
There are lots of Taxi’s- just make sure you agree a fare in advance (or there is a meter). Good idea to have your destination written down.
From the airport go to the Prepaid Desk on arrivalfor short journeys
Try out the little Auto Rickshaws – if you dare.
Uber works! And the cars tend to be better than many of the regular taxi’s (I changed my settings to paying cash as there was also a risk in crazy Mumbai that you’d never actually find your car!)