Tour Of Mumbai

on Saturday, 13 March 2010

For our second and last day in Mumbai, we were deciding between a trip to the water park or a tour of the city. As we had to be back in time for our bus to Ahmedabad, and the trip to the water park would take 2 hours there and 2 hours back, we decided we would be rushing at the water park and that we could also do that anywhere. We decide on the tour of the city and although there are a couple of places we know we want to see, we decide to go back to the Gateway of India and find somebody to give us a tour. We manage to get the tour for 550R each for a 3-4 hour tour, seeing everything there is to see in Mumbai. Our first stop is the Jain temple, which is a temple made mainly of marble with silver doors, we are not allowed in the main downstairs area, but are allowed to observe from upstairs.

The second stop was the dhobi ghat, the place where all the washing is done in Mumbai, the people who wash the clothes live and work in the same small area and each have their own contracts with different hotels and businesses, they each have their own area where they wash and just pay for the water.

Some of the families have big washing machines and they get the big hotel contracts, but the majority is done by hand. The job is done only by men, because it is very hard work, although they only do it as a job and would not do their personal washing, that is the women's job. We have actually seen women with pickaxes digging up the roads to lay pipes and cables and I can’t believe it’s harder than that. Because they do such a massive amount of washing here, to differentiate between whose washing is who's, every item of hotel laundry has initials stitched in the corner and personal items are all given a tag with a code on.  I don’t know how confident I would be about giving my clothes in at a hotel and getting all the items back. It seems like such a complicated way of doing it, but as with many things out here, somehow it just works well. Our next stop was Back Bay and Chowpatty beach, you cannot swim anywhere in Mumbai because the water is so polluted, probably the reason the beach was almost deserted.

Next was Mahatma Ghandi’s Mumbai house, which has now been turned into a museum, it was very basic, but I learnt he was married to his wife when they were both 13 and were married 62 years and there was quite a lot of his personal effects.

Then there was the Parsi tower of silence, this is a religious group who are vegetarians, but also don’t eat any vegetables which are grown in the ground because when digging it up they might kill an insect. Also they believe in giving back to nature, they don’t bury or burn the bodies of the dead, they have three towers that they put the bodies on top of, one for men, one for women and one for children and they let the vultures and birds eat the bodies. Recently though the pollution in the city has kept the vultures away and they have had to use artificial ways to make the bodies decompose quicker. The whole area is huge and is covered by thick trees, and nobody is allowed to go in, so we didn’t see much, we were shown a picture of the towers, which was basically a screen grab from Google earth. The next place was the hanging gardens, which were built on a huge water tank, and had great views over the city.

From there we went to Victoria Terminus, where the main train station is situated, the station is absolutely massive and a very impressive building.

From here we were shown several other huge over the top buildings being used for different purposes, one  a maternity hospital and one the main post office in Mumbai, all the buildings built by the British. Apparently the city of Mumbai was originally name Mumbai and was renamed Bombay by the Portuguese when they invaded and later given to the British as a Dowry for Charles the II’s wedding. Then it was rented by an Indian company for £10 a year. We were shown a few other buildings including the Bombay Stock Exchange and then dropped off for some lunch at the end of the tour. We decided to find an internet cafe and upload some photos quickly, it ended up taking about 3 hours to do everything, sitting in a tiny little room down an alley. We also ended up booking a train ticket from Ahmadabad to Udaipur for the 14th, so we have quite a bit of travelling to do over the next few days. We were not intending to stop in Udaipur and instead go straight to Jaipur, but we were told it was a nice place to stop and the internet seemed to show a few things to do, apparently some of the James Bond film Octopussy was filmed there as well. We end up leaving the internet cafe and having to go straight to the bus station, although we had planned to have a look around one of the huge markets. We have a AC sleeper bus to Ahmadabad which should take about 10 hours, happily this time there is just one row of double beds and one of singles, so there is a bit more space, although they are still only 6’ long. We drive out of the city threw the slums again.