Tour of Mumbai City with guide Dilip Vasu
Depart: 10:00am from Leopold’s Cafe
Return: 2:30pm to Causeway Road (to find another backpack to take on airline)
- Dhobi Ghat – oldest and largest open air laundry in India. The men who work here earn just 600-700 rupees a day ($12-$13)
- Beach area of Mumbai – originally the area of Mumbai consisted of 7 islands. The British reclaimed land – moved mountains of rock and soil to make it whole. Our guide showed us were the ‘beach’ houses stood, where originally the sea lapped at their doors. The beach was not as pleasant as other beaches we have experienced, but neither as bad as some (ie. Fort Cochin beach).
- Marine Drive – the road widens and stretches out to the city of Mumbai. The haze is thick over the sea so that you can’t see the horizon. It reminded us of St Kilda and the esplanade area. Where’s Nanny and Poppy?
- Policeman sculpture – when the terrorist attacked happened in Mumbai in 2008, there was a hungry media live feeding the attacks and the situation as it unfolded through television news and online. This allows the terrorist to see where not to go, what areas of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel were insecure and which weren’t. The terrorist killed themselves by detonating or shooting themselves. But there was one policeman who gave his life to capture one of the terrorists responsible for the attacks. What he did was grab the terrorist so he could not shoot himself, but instead was killed in the action of doing so. He has been the only member of the Indian police force to be sculptured and remembered as a hero in the line of duty.
- Jain Temple – ornate and white, similar patterns within the marble floor as the Taj Mahal. We were greeted with a conditions of entry sign out the front – women who were currently menstruating were not permitted into the temple! The girls found this quite funny, at first thinking it was a complete joke! The Jains are unusual as they believe in not killing anything – they do not eat potatoes, onions or garlic or other root vegetables because when these vegetables are pulled from the ground, that very process kills the bug and insects. They therefore do eat meat, nuts, fruit. They do not wear leather. They do not have cars as it uses fuel. Instead they ride bicycles or go by foot. It’s a limited diet and they only eat during the day, having a glass of hot water at night. There are currently about 2 million Jains in India, mostly found in Mumbai. There god is direct – they do not require a priest or a Brahmin (middle person). They are heavily in the industries and businesses of gold, silver and buildings (assuming real estate), but we’re not sure how they resolve their belief with not hurting anything living thing when the mines that dig up the gold and silver must certainly hurt living creatures.
- Hanging Gardens – it was hot here, under the direct sun, but an interesting stop. The hanging gardens have a couple of mysterious stories behind its name but none of them true such as where the British hung people. The true story is that it is a huge water well that contains vast amount of water, a reservoir, underneath it. An extensive garden area has been built on top with a concrete base hanging between the garden and the water. No large trees can be grown here as it is not deep enough for their roots. Near to this Hanging Garden is the Parsi (Iranian Muslim) Tower of Silence. It is a place where dead Parsi bodies are taken to lie down on a stones wall and allow the animals – eagles, vultures, other – to come and pick at the body to take it away bit by bit.
- Giant shoe from Old Mother Hubbard nursery rhyme – we walked across the road and saw children playing around this giant yellow laced-up boot. It was closed for renovation. However, we did meet a friendly, fat golden Labrador which the girls patted and showed their affection. Not many dogs we see in the Indian streets get to look like that!
- Gandhi House museum – we then went to the museum to see and learn a bit about Gandhi and his life. It was great – I read out the story line showed in glass cabinets in chronological order made from miniature models. There were books and memorabilia from letters to President’s and scientists (Albert Einstein) from Gandhi. It showcased his life of peaceful protesting, personal fastings, public arrests, and his life from birth to death when he was assassinated on 30 January 1948. “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this, ever in flesh and blood, walked upon this earth.” Albert Einstein
- Victoria Terminus – we ventured into the mighty Mumbai Railway Station – a magnificent building.
- Lunch boxes – our final stop for the day was across the road from the train station where hundreds and thousands of small lunchboxes (prepared by wives at home) were assembled onto the footpath in a numbered system from 1-52. They are then taken to the platform areas where husbands work or to the buildings where husbands work and they can eat their lunch. Men with little pointy white colonel hats ride bicycles to deliver them or arrange a large cart like stretcher that is taken to the station platform. A famous and very entrepreneurial venture!
Mumbai – the history of two names
Mumbai was originally made up of 7 islands. The Koli or Fisherfolk’s God at the time was called Mumba (God). Ai (means mother) and was a respectful addition to the name so the name Mumbai was formed. The name Mumba was changed by the Portuguese to Bom meaning beautiful and including Bay to Bombay. The extensive history of Mumbai/Bombay is significant – in 1660 the island of Bombay was handed over as dowry, and then later rented out to the East India Company (head office Calcutta) for 10 pounds/year. The islands were made into one through reclaimed land with rock and soil from the mountain areas destroyed to make it happen by the British.
After Independence – what name?
The two states fight and civil war occurs after the British leave until 1956. The one area including Gujurat and Maharashtra fight for the city of Mumbai to be their capital.
1 May 1960 the States divide on World Labour Day, which is also Maharashtra Independence Day. Mumbai becomes the Maharashtra State’s capital city.
21 Nov 1961 – should the name Bombay revert back to it’s original name? But the world knows the city with its international name Bombay.
1995 – local governments start a petition to change the name back to its original, non-imperialist name Mumbai.
1996 – Supreme Court decides that the name will change back to its original name of Mumbai.
What we have discovered, is that each city has two to three different names that are used interchangeably. It’s just something you get used to once you’re travelling here.