Essential Mumbai

Tour Creator

Shreya's tryst with Mumbai began a little over 8 years ago with her TV and Film career. Being a people-lover, she finds history, culture, food, films, and architecture fascinating. She…Read More Bio »

Mumbai

GPS-directed

Remote Tour Included

1hr/2.5hrs(Extended itinerary)

1km/2.5km(Extended itinerary)

Our heritage walk spans five centuries exploring the history of colonized Bombay and discovering the bustling cosmopolitan Mumbai of today.

Avoid the Crowds

Allows you to explore without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a large tour group

Created by an exceptional travel writer

Written by a Mumbai-based writer with a Master's degree in Film Studies

GPS Directions

Easy-to-follow GPS directions to get you from one point to the next on your tour

Highlights include:

St. Thomas Cathedral, Oval Maidan, and Gateway of India

Remote Tour Included

As with all our tours, a remote tour is included that can be enjoyed from home

Itineraries

Essential Mumbai – Extended

Essential Mumbai – Standard

  1. The Asiatic Society of Mumbai - Erstwhile known as the Town Hall (the natives used to call it ‘tondal’ colloquially in the 19th century), this neoclassical grand structure was the cultural artery of the fortified city of Bombay. It houses a library and a museum that plays host to nearly 8,00,000 ancient volumes of Persian, Prakrit, Urdu and Sanskrit manuscripts.
  2. St. Thomas Cathedral - To turn the natural harbors of Bombay to a great maritime trading center, the Company required supporting infrastructure. Like it established customhouse, warehouse, quay and a court, the first governor of Bombay also saw to it that the religious pursuit of the growing British settlement was not ignored. St. Thomas Cathedral, the first Anglican Church in Mumbai (1718) was built over a time period of more than 30 years.
  3. Flora Fountain and Martyr Square - The fountain is located where five streets meet and is fondly called the Piccadilly Circus of Mumbai.
  4. Bombay High Court - Mumbai’s reputation of being the best Victorian Gothic City in the world is best understood once you come here! One of the oldest courts of India, it is situated on the east side of Oval Maidan (a green ground space). A turning point in the legal history of colonized Bombay, the structure embodies ‘justice without fear or favor’ – the mantra of the main architect of the judicial system, Gerald Aungier, the first governor of Bombay under the Company. Now it has jurisdiction over the state of Maharashtra, Goa, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  5. Oval Maidan - As we all know Bombay started out as an archipelago or a cluster of islands. During the British Era, the sea came up to the Oval Maidan. The area which you see beyond it is all reclaimed land. Now, this is considered the prettiest open space bang in the middle of a modern city. A lot of kids come here to play cricket and football. It is surrounded by stunning art deco buildings on one side and British Raj era Gothic architecture on another.
  6. University of Mumbai - Established in 1857, the Fort campus of University of Mumbai or MU (named so in 1997 from erstwhile University of Bombay) is one of the three earliest state universities in India. It stands on a 230 acres ground. The best known Gothic architect of his time, Sir Gilbert Scott himself conceived the design style of the Convocation Hall at Bombay University. From Mukesh Ambani to B.R. Ambedkar, from actress Aishwarya Rai to politician and founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah were all the notable alumni of this university.
  7. Rajabai Clock Tower - In the same campus as Bombay University, you will find a glimpse of mini London - the influence of London’s Big Ben in the form of the 260 feet tall Rajabai Clock Tower. It is located above the Mumbai University library. People are not allowed inside the campus so you will be deprived of admiring the ornate interiors of the tower. But you can stand on the Oval Maidan side of the footpath and identify the beautiful stone exterior containing 24 statues representing the various castes and communities of the Maratha people. During its time this was the tallest structure in the city!
  8. Watson's Hotel - It is difficult to stand in front of a cavernous structure and imagine its glorious past. Well, Watson’s Hotel will make you feel like finding the remains of Titanic buried in its watery grave. Built in 1871, this was Bombay’s ‘European-only’ hotel owned by John Watson. Created in bits and pieces in England, the parts were then imported to Bombay and set up here. This is one of Mumbai’s last surviving cast-iron buildings and a part of city’s rich but crumbling heritage.
  9. Kala Ghoda - Kala Ghoda or the Black Stallion is the premier art district of modern Mumbai. It is named after a Prince of Wales statue astride a black stallion, but surprise...surprise, the original statue is long gone! It was relocated to Byculla Zoo in 1965 owing to the nationalist pride of India. In 2017, a statue of a riderless black horse was erected to embody the historical significance of this precinct minus the imperial power connotation.
  10. Lion's Gate - This is where it all began! Nestled in the bosom of the present-day seat of Western Naval Command, is Bombay Castle, a remnant around which the original fort structure was built in 1668. Two centuries later, the Bombay Fort was torn down. So sadly the fort walls are completely obliterated in physical form. You cannot see Bombay Castle from inside as the area is super sensitive and off-limits to commoners. But standing in front of Lion Gate, you can still feel the heartbeat of history and get an idea of the lay of the land 5 centuries back.
  11. State Police Headquarters of Mumbai - A recent pass on and renaming, the original building used to be Royal Alfred Sailor’s Home built to provide shelter to sick seamen. The sea theme is very prominent with all the maritime motifs - anchors and live savers on its window arches and the carving of Neptune the god of the sea. Till now we have seen a successful blending of architectural styles, but this was not so. This was a failed attempt to infuse Gothic with Muslim accents.
  12. Prince of Wales Museum - Now we enter the 1900s and see the shift of architectural style – the foundation stone of this museum was laid in 1905. It is an important cultural landmark of Mumbai even today. This is the best example of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and was designed by George Wittet. Today you will find over 50,000 artifacts in this museum from eras bygone like Harappan civilization and Mughal regime.
  13. Regal Cinema - We can see the Regal Cinema – one of the 1920s art deco buildings of Mumbai. It was the first art deco cinema constructed after the film boom of the 30s era in Bombay. It is one of last standing single screen cinema in the age of multiplexes.
  14. Gateway of India - Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay in Dec 1911. But the design passed in 1920 and the construction was completed in 1924. So just imagine, when King George V came from the sea towards the harbor, there was not a mammoth gate to welcome him but just a few steps and a red carpet.
  15. Taj Mahal Palace & Tower - Overlooking the Gateway of India is this marvelous monument of Indian pride. It was built in 1903 by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, one of the most influential Parsee at the time. A beautiful building of seven stories with a central dome reflects the blend of architectural styles of Moorish, Oriental, and Florentine. The Taj Mahal Tower came up later after the next door hotel Greens was acquired and demolished by the TATA group in 1973.
  16. Cafe Leopold - This is no architectural wonder but a historical landmark where you can rest your feet while not taking a single step out of your history walk. This is one of the first Irani cafes opened in Mumbai by the then immigrating Zoroastrian Iranis in the late 19th and early 20th century. They also contribute to the cosmopolitan fabric of this city. If you are not in the mood to chill with a pint of beer you can still feel the retro vibe of the place. And after surviving the 26/11 terrorist attack, this has become a symbol of Mumbai’s spirit of resilience.
  1. Bombay High Court - Mumbai’s reputation of being the best Victorian Gothic City in the world is best understood once you come here! One of the oldest courts of India, it is situated on the east side of Oval Maidan (a green ground space). A turning point in the legal history of colonized Bombay, the structure embodies ‘justice without fear or favor’ – the mantra of the main architect of the judicial system, Gerald Aungier, the first governor of Bombay under the Company. Now it has jurisdiction over the state of Maharashtra, Goa, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  2. Oval Maidan - As we all know Bombay started out as an archipelago or a cluster of islands. During the British Era, the sea came up to the Oval Maidan. The area which you see beyond it is all reclaimed land. Now, this is considered the prettiest open space bang in the middle of a modern city. A lot of kids come here to play cricket and football. It is surrounded by stunning art deco buildings on one side and British Raj era Gothic architecture on another.
  3. University of Mumbai - Established in 1857, the Fort campus of University of Mumbai or MU (named so in 1997 from erstwhile University of Bombay) is one of the three earliest state universities in India. It stands on a 230 acres ground. The best known Gothic architect of his time, Sir Gilbert Scott himself conceived the design style of the Convocation Hall at Bombay University. From Mukesh Ambani to B.R. Ambedkar, from actress Aishwarya Rai to politician and founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah were all the notable alumni of this university.
  4. Rajabai Clock Tower - In the same campus as Bombay University, you will find a glimpse of mini London - the influence of London’s Big Ben in the form of the 260 feet tall Rajabai Clock Tower. It is located above the Mumbai University library. People are not allowed inside the campus so you will be deprived of admiring the ornate interiors of the tower. But you can stand on the Oval Maidan side of the footpath and identify the beautiful stone exterior containing 24 statues representing the various castes and communities of the Maratha people. During its time this was the tallest structure in the city!
  5. Watson's Hotel - It is difficult to stand in front of a cavernous structure and imagine its glorious past. Well, Watson’s Hotel will make you feel like finding the remains of Titanic buried in its watery grave. Built in 1871, this was Bombay’s ‘European-only’ hotel owned by John Watson. Created in bits and pieces in England, the parts were then imported to Bombay and set up here. This is one of Mumbai’s last surviving cast-iron buildings and a part of city’s rich but crumbling heritage.
  6. Kala Ghoda - Kala Ghoda or the Black Stallion is the premier art district of modern Mumbai. It is named after a Prince of Wales statue astride a black stallion, but surprise...surprise, the original statue is long gone! It was relocated to Byculla Zoo in 1965 owing to the nationalist pride of India. In 2017, a statue of a riderless black horse was erected to embody the historical significance of this precinct minus the imperial power connotation.
  7. Lion's Gate - This is where it all began! Nestled in the bosom of the present-day seat of Western Naval Command, is Bombay Castle, a remnant around which the original fort structure was built in 1668. Two centuries later, the Bombay Fort was torn down. So sadly the fort walls are completely obliterated in physical form. You cannot see Bombay Castle from inside as the area is super sensitive and off-limits to commoners. But standing in front of Lion Gate, you can still feel the heartbeat of history and get an idea of the lay of the land 5 centuries back.
  8. State Police Headquarters of Mumbai - A recent pass on and renaming, the original building used to be Royal Alfred Sailor’s Home built to provide shelter to sick seamen. The sea theme is very prominent with all the maritime motifs - anchors and live savers on its window arches and the carving of Neptune the god of the sea. Till now we have seen a successful blending of architectural styles, but this was not so. This was a failed attempt to infuse Gothic with Muslim accents.
  9. Prince of Wales Museum - Now we enter the 1900s and see the shift of architectural style – the foundation stone of this museum was laid in 1905. It is an important cultural landmark of Mumbai even today. This is the best example of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and was designed by George Wittet. Today you will find over 50,000 artifacts in this museum from eras bygone like Harappan civilization and Mughal regime.
  10. Regal Cinema - We can see the Regal Cinema – one of the 1920s art deco buildings of Mumbai. It was the first art deco cinema constructed after the film boom of the 30s era in Bombay. It is one of last standing single screen cinema in the age of multiplexes.
  11. Gateway of India - Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay in Dec 1911. But the design passed in 1920 and the construction was completed in 1924. So just imagine, when King George V came from the sea towards the harbor, there was not a mammoth gate to welcome him but just a few steps and a red carpet.

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