Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Mumbai

This Swaminarayan Temple (Mandir) is located in the Bhuleshwar area of Mumbai and is over a hundred years old. It was the first Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Mumbai.

The present Mandir has a tri – spire structure and the Murti’s installed are that of Shree Laxminarayan Dev, Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shree Hari Krishna Maharaj, Shree Gaulokvihari and Shree Radhikaji. It is a Shikharband Mandir and comes under the Shree Laxminarayan Dev Gadi (Vadtal).

On Vaishakh Shukla Ekadashi, Vikram Samvat 1924, Param Pujya Param Bhakt, Shree Ranchhoddas Pranjeevandas built the first ever Shree Swaminarayan temple in Mumbai by breaking and rebuilding his own residence. The deities of Shree Hari Krishna Maharaj, Shree Gaulokvihari and Shree Radhikaji were instated by Acharya Maharajshri Bhagwatprasadji Maharaj. The Temple Trust instated by Shree Ranchhoddasji still contributes a monthly dakshina of Rs. 150/- to the Temple.

The present tri-spire temple structure was built and the deities of Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj and Shree Lakshminarayan Dev instated on Vaishakh Shukla Dwadashi, Vikram Samvat 1959 by Param Pujya Acharya Maharajshri Lakshmiprasadji Maharaj.

Shree Hari’s absolute devotee, Rao Bahadur Sheth Curumsey Damjee contributed towards this temple’s reinstatement with all material, physical and intellectual resources. His close associate and friend Shree Mathurdas Vaishnav too donated Rs. 25,000/- towards this sacred work.

Cathedral of the Holy Name, Mumbai

The Cathedral of the Holy Name is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) and the seat of the Archbishop of Bombay and headquarters of the Archdiocese of Bombay (http://www.archbom.com). The cathedral is located in the Colaba area in South Mumbai. The residence of the Archbishop is located adjacent to the Cathedral.

This Cathedral was built to replace the older Cathedral which was located in the Bhuleshwar area of the city, where there are few resident Christians. That site was sold off, and the former parochial church of the Holy Name in Colaba was elevated as the Pro-Cathedral.

Inside the Cathedral

The site of this church is very close to the site of the former Portuguese Church of Our Lady of Hope, or Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, that was confiscated by the English from the Padroado party and handed over to the Propaganda party’s Vicar Apostolic Athanasius Hartmann. The Esperanca Church was demolished by the Propagandists soon after, and in its place the present Esperanca Building, also called the Eucharistic Congress Building, behind the Holy Name Cathedral, was built to house the delegates to the 38th International Eucharistic Congress in the 1960s.

The 100-year-old parish has suffered from dwindling parishioners, from 15,000 to 5000 today. It is known for its frescoes, pipe organ, a large gold embroidered stole gifted by John XXIII, and another by Pope Pius XII containing the red hat given to Cardinal Valerian Gracias, and a bell gifted by Pope Paul VI during the 38th International Eucharistic Congress held in Mumbai in 1964.

It is one of the two more known cathedrals in the city, the other being the older, Anglican, Cathedral of St. Thomas the Apostle. Other Cathedrals in the city include those of the Jacobites and the Syro-Malankara Rite,

In addition, there were at least two other buildings which, while not strictly Cathedrals, were popularly styled as being Pro-Cathedrals of the Padroado party Bishop of Daman, who resided normally at the Portuguese government-owned Blessed Sacrament Chapel in Middle Colaba — St. Francis Xavier Church in Dabul and the Church of Our Lady of Glory (Nossa Senhora da Gloria) or Gloria Church in Byculla.

Want to Enjoy Mumbai ? Read this……….

  • Gateway of India(Local Stn. CST) This was built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India. This arch is the most recognizable symbol of the city.
  • Elephanta Caves Elephanta Island, Mumbai  Check out these fine examples of rock sculptures dedicated to Shiva. Even though many of them have been vandalised by Portuguese invaders, their grandeur is hardly diminished. Every year around February, the Elephanta Festival  of music and dance takes place on this island in the backdrop of the sculptures. Take a ferry from the Gateway of India. The round trip costs Rs. 100 and will take 45 minutes one way.
  • Prince of Wales Museum (Local Stn. Churchgate) 159-161, M.G. Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400 023. +91 22 2284 44 84, +91 22 2284 45 19 (fax: +91 22 2204 54 30 crescent@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in) [9] Now known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, the Prince of Wales museum is located near The Gateway of India next to Jehangir Art Gallery. Tue-Sun 10:15am. – 5:45pm.
  • Jehangir Art Gallery (Local Stn. Churchgate) M.G.Road,Mumbai 400 023 +91 22 2204 4058 Entrance Free 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Art Galleries There are several other art galleries in the “Kala Ghoda” district, walking distance from Colaba. Most notable being the Museum Gallery and the NGMA.
  • Nehru Science Centre (Local Stn. Mahalaxmi) Dr. Edwin Moses Road, Worli, Mumbai 400 018 +91 22 2493 2667, +91 22 2493 4520, +91 22 24926042(fax: 91 22 2493 2668 nscm@vsnl.com, nscm@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in, Additional Contact[10] ) [11] A science museum, also contains the Discovery of India – a show on India’s History named for Jawaharlal Nehru’s book. It is spread over a relatively large area and surrounded by greenery. Check the website for prices and timings of different shows.
  • Nehru Planetarium (Local Stn. Mahalaxmi) Dr. Edwin Moses Road, Worli, Mumbai 400 018 +91 22 2492 0510 (planetarium@nehrucentremumbai.com) This is located next door to the Nehru Science Centre, has some interesting shows. Adult Rs. 35. Children Rs. 20 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Local Stn. Borivali) Borivali, Mumbai +91 22 2842 1174 Check out this relatively unknown national park, situated in north Mumbai. It’s in Borivali, and serves as the lungs of Mumbai. It’s quite famous for its leopards and the caves inside the park. 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • Kanheri Caves (;;Local Stn. Borivali) Borivali, Mumbai is a nice place to visit for history enthusiasts. This is a complex of Buddhist temples cut out of the rock. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • Veermata Jijabai Udyan (Local Stn. Byculla) – Mumbai’s zoo, popularly known as Rani Baug (“Queen’s garden” – The queen in question could be Victoria or Jijabai. See infobox.) or Byculla zoo, because it is in Byculla. This is a sad little zoo, mentioned here only because a guide is expected to mention it. Go there for the garden, not to look at the animals.
  • Marine Drive Chowpatty (Local Stn. Marine Lines or Charni Rd) is the city’s most famous beach. Situated at one end of Marine Drive, Mumbai’s most famous promenade. This is not a place to sunbathe, however. Go here to watch the crowds enjoying themselves, and have Bhel puri, as a moderately famous Hindi song asks you to. Note that Chowpatty in Marathi means “beach”. So you may hear people referring to other beaches suffixed with Chowpatty (For example “Juhu Chowpatty”). But if they say “Chowpatty” without qualification, they are referring to this place.
  • Aarey milk colony is another green pocket of Mumbai. You can take a tour of the milk production plant and have a picnic outside.

Do

Marine Drive

Marine Drive

  • Harbour Cruise, Gateway of India, +91 22 2202 3585. Cruises leave at 30 minutes frequency every day except during the monsoon season (June-September). Rs. 40.
  • Heritage walks, Navyug Niketan, 185 Walkeshwar Road, Teenbatti, Mumbai 400 006 +91 22 2683 5856 +91 22 2369 0992 (Contact Brinda Gaitonde or Abha Bahl heritagewalks@hotmail.com) Organized by two architects, these walks take you around various historic and architecturally significant areas of the city. Walks are organized on the third sunday of every month (with a break in June and August for the monsoons) and the route varies each time. The walks last around 90 minutes. Rs. 100 (Discounted rates for students and the physically challenged)
  • Enjoy the Mumbai Festival, held in January every year. In 2006, it took place between January 14-26. Sample the vibrant culture of the city. The festival covers theatre, sports, fashion, food and shopping.
  • Elephanta Festival, Elephanta Island, Mumbai ( MTDC Reservation Division: +91 22 2202 6713, +91 22 2202 7762; Dadar, Near. Pritam Hotel: +91 22 2414 3200; Gateway of India: +91 22 2284 1877; Churchgate: +91 22 2209 3229; Rhythm House +91 222284 2835; Archies Gallery, Churchgate +91 22 2202 7511 Extn. 113, +9193246 35505)  of music and dance takes place around February every year. In 2006, it took place on February 11 and 12. The festival saw performances by renowned artists like Alarmel Valli, Sanjeev Abhyankar and Ananda Shankar. There will be traditional Koli dances and traditional food. 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (both days. Ferries start 4 p.m. onwards), Rs. 300 (per day, includes to and fro journey by ferry from Gateway of India to Elephanta Island)
  • It is a beautiful sight and experience to drive on Marine Drive.
  • Also a very good place to hang out and take in the sea without the menacing crowds is Carter road and Bandstand in Mumbai’s poshest suburb, Bandra .
  • The Rock scene is very good in Mumbai, as compared to the rest of the country . These are very safe to go to and are recommended for rock fans. Most bands cover heavy metal acts like pantera, six feet under, slipknot etc. but at places like Not just jazz by the bay, there are treats for Jazz fans, as well. To try to find places with specific music tastes try asking students outside Mumbai’s colleges.
  • Rave Parties, (Local Stn. Karjat) a place outside Mumbai is known for its “rave” parties. Many international underground and electronic Djs like. Infected Mushroom, Skazi , Astral Projection , and others have played here . These parties are not well publicised and are often held on the quiet,so finding one might be tough. Note that this might be illegal, so caution is advised.
  • If you can afford it, at $300/hour(including drinks & meals), rent the Taj’s private yatch(has 2 sun decks and 3 bedrooms) for a cruise around the Mumbai harbour.

Learn

Yoga

  • Iyengar Yogashraya (Local Stn. Lower Parel) Elmac House, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel West, Mumbai +91 22 2494 8416  This is the institute run by the renowned B K S Iyengar. Mon, Tue, Thurs, Sat: 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Rs. 111 per day
  • The Yoga Institute (Local Stn. SantaCruz) Prabhat Colony, Yogendra Marg, Santa Cruz East, Mumbai +91 22 2611 0506  This is the more famous of the Yoga institutes in the city. It is also probably more conveniently located if you are staying in the Western Suburbs. The Institute was founded in 1918 by Shri Yogendra as a research and educational organization and today is directed by his son Jayadeva Yogendra, Ph.D., who is also the editor of the quarterly magazine Yoga and Total Health.
  • Kaivalyadham 43, (Local Stn. Marine Lines) Netaji Subhash Rd, Marine Drive, +91 22 2281 8417 
  • Free Yoga with Nikhamjiat various hubs like borivali , Mira road ( Jehangid Complex) various suburbs in Mumbai ever sunday early morning at 7 am by Nikam Guruji Followers.

Universities

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay  Ranks among the best technological institutes in India and has a worldwide reputation. The institute has quotas for children of Non-Resident Indians (people of Indian origin settled abroad) and also for foreign students.
  • University of Mumbai  – The oldest university in India.
  • VJTI  A reputable technological institute.
  • SNDT University A reputable university for women, with main campus in Juhu and smaller campuses in Marine Lines and Ghatkopar.
  • Sardar Patel College of Engineering  A reputable technological institute. Hub of Mechanical Engineering Department  of Mumbai University.
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences 
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research 
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies 

Work

Nariman Point aand Fort are the commercial hubs of the city and the most sought after destinations. Bandra-kurla has come up in recent years too, but remains less desirable. A good idea to make quick money is to work part-time in a BPO or a call center. A part-time job can pay you as much as $350 a month for just 6 hrs a day for 5 days in a week .note : only good for english speaking travellers. Foreigners can also earn a quick buck by doing cameos in Hindi movies.

Buy

  • Buy some material and get some clothes made up by a tailor. It’s an incredibly cheap way to get quality made-to-measure clothes. Usually only takes a couple of days.
  • Also for antiques , see Mumbai’s Chor bazaar located in the Grant Road suburb . Be careful as to what you are buying and also bargain a lot. theres nothing like taking a local along to shop for you
  • Fashion Street (Mahatama Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai – From Chruchgate Station start walking towards Flora Fountain make a left turn and its a block down) – best place in Mumbai to buy cheap clothes. Bargaining/Haggling skills are a must if you want to shop here! Offer to pay 1/4 of the asking price or less and then work your way upwards!
  • Burlingtons in the Taj is a tailor specializing in Indian outfits. The Oberoi shopping arcade (in the Oberoi hotel) has a variety of shops offering Indian leather, silks and handicrafts. The Colaba area bylands also have many shops selling antiques, carpets and chandelliars. Afgan Carpets (in Colaba, near Salvation Army) stocks vegetable dyed carpets.
  • Crossroads Mall The largest shopping Mall in Mumbai, located on Tardeo Road, Tardeo.
  • Atria Mall- Near Nehru Planetarium,Worli. One of the best malls in Mumbai. It is not as big as Inorbit Mall at Malad but the atmosphere is good. Well known brands are available. Avoid taking your car as the traffic can be bad in evenings and weekends.
  • Phoenix Mills This is another great place for shopping. It is a mega center formed by converting an old cotton mill into a shopping center. It is home to numerous different things including lots and lots of shops, great restaurants, nightclubs, and a bowling alley. On weekends this area can get quite crowded, but in general this is a very safe place, with all the food clean and hygenic. There is also almost no chance of being scammed as all stores have price tags on their products
  • Inorbit Mall Great Place for shopping.Situated at Malad linking Road.Auto Riksha would cost 25 -30 Rs from Goregaon. There are movie theatres in the mall with various international brand stores.Avoid going on weekends and holidays especially in the evening
  • Infinity Mall Good place for shopping at Andheri (West) Linking Road. Includes movie theatres as well as one of the best book stores in Mumbai Landmark
  • Colaba Causeway is filled with tourists and locals. It is located very close to the Gateway of India. It is a place where you will be able to find many authentic Indian souvenir. But foreigners will have to be very careful, as all these stores are road-side stalls. What may seem a good price that the person has quoted to you, it will actually be a rip off. Do not settle for anything more than one-fourth the quoted price.. If they refuse a price just walk away, and they will call you back quoting a lower price. Normally, the more you buy, the less you will have to pay for each individual item.
  • Sarees – the best place to buy them is Dadar. The place is buzzing 12 months a year. On sundays the crowd can be maddening for outsiders. Good shops to buy Sarees are Dadar Emporium, Lazaree, RoopSangam. On N C Kelkar Road and Ranade Road you can buy almost everything a woman needs. Bargain Hard.

Eat

The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. If you search hard enough, you will find cuisine from practically every part of the world represented in the city. But to get a real flavour of what’s unique to Mumbai, you will have to go a little lower down the scale, and experience its street food and Irani cafes. That is what is described here. For individual restaurants and other places to eat, go to the individual district pages.

Speciality Restaurants

  • Sea Food- Mahesh Lunch Home (near Fountain and in Juhu) and Trishna (Kala Ghoda)are the usual suspects and have been famous for their coastal cuisine. The latter is of course good, but had become too touristy by nature.
  • Italian- Giovanni’s (Juhu), Mezzo Mezzo (at the JW Marriott), Vetor (at the Hilton Towers, Celini (at the Grand Hyatt)
  • North Western- Peshawari (at Maratha Sheraton, Andheri). Its sister restaurant Bukhara in Delhi has been recognized as the best Indian restaurant across the world. Try tandoori jhinga, the kebab platter, sikandari raan (leg of lamb) and mangoes and ice cream (only during summers). Kandahar (Oberoi) and Khybar (Kala Ghoda).
  • Regional Indian- Dakshin (Maratha Sheraton) and Woodlands (Juhu) for south Indian, Oh! Calcutta for Bengali (at Tardeo), Poush (Andheri) for Kashmiri, Preetam’s Dhaba (Dadar) and Urban Tadka (Mulund)for Punjabi food, Chetana (Kala Ghoda), Thacker’s (Marine Drive) and Rajdhani (multiple locations) for Gujarati Thalis.
  • General Indian – Sheetal Bukhara, Great Punjab (both in Bandra)
  • Chinese- Mainland China ( Saki Naka) Ling’s Pavillion (Colaba), Golden Dragon (Taj Mahal Hotel), Great Wall (Renaissance), Spices (JW Marriott), China Gate (Bandra), China White (Bandra). Royal China at VT (behind Sterling Cinema serves some of the best DimSum the city has to offer)
  • Japanese- Wasabi by Morimoto (Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba) is Mumbai’s most expensive restaurant, but Japanese food is on the menus of most Pan asian restaurants like Pan Asian (Maratha Sheraton), India Jones (The Oberoi) and Spices (JW Marriott), Japengo ( Atria Mall Worli).
  • Combination Oriental- Pan Asian (at Maratha Sheraton), Seijo and Soul (Bandra), Joss (Kala Ghoda) has some of the best East Asian food in the country and at moderate prices (compared to hotels).
  • Fusion – Zenzi (Waterfield Road, Bandra), Out of the Blue ( Pali Hill, Bandra)
  • Lounge – Olive (Bandra), Rain (Juhu), Indigo
  • Speciality Deli – Indigo Deli (Colaba), Moshe’s (Cuffe Parade), Cafe Basilico
  • Cafe – Leopold, Cafe Mondegar (both near Regal Cinema, Colaba) are great places to while away time, eat cheap and swig a beer or five.
  • 24X7 Coffee Shops – Vista (Taj Land’s End, Bandra), Hornby’s Pavilion (ITC Grand Central), Lotus Cafe (JW Marriott), basically all the big hotels have one.
  • Goan, Coastal – Goa Portuguesa (Mahim) Near Hinduja Hospital
  • Mumbai Street Food – To experience the tastes and flavors of typical Mumbai chaat and yet not expose oneself to the dangers of unhygenic street food, check out Vitthal’s Restaurant located on one of the lanes opposite Sterling Cinema (C.S.T.)

Street food stalls

Songs have been written about Mumbai’s street food, and you will find that the hype is justified. You will find them at every street corner, but they are concentrated in beaches and around railway stations. It is difficult to categorize them, but there are

  • Bhelpuri stalls, selling what in the rest of India would be called chaat. In Mumbai itself, the term chaat is rarely used.
  • Vada pav stands, developed to provide nourishment to mill-workers in Mumbai’s burgeoning mills. Now they are found everywhere, particularly in the railway stations.
  • Sandwich stands – try them. Uniquely developed in Mumbai, you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in India or the world.
  • Chinese food stalls – you’ll find them at many places, but they are particularly concentrated near Dadar railway station. They all have a typical Indian twist added to it, which is why it is frequetly called “Indian Chinese”. Although it is great tasting, the hygiene of these places leaves a lot to be desired.

A tip: cheap and tasty food stalls are concentrated around the city’s colleges.

One should only have the food that is cooked fresh in front of you. During the monsoons, it is advisable that all street food be avoided, due to the numerous flies which are always on the food.

Udupi restaurants

“Udupi” restaurants (or “hotels”) are everywhere. They bear the name of the town of Udupi in Karnataka, but do not be misled into thinking that they specialize in the cuisine of Udupi. They serve pretty much everything, and that is their speciality.

Usually strictly vegetarian, these restaurants were started off by migrants from the district of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka (of which Udupi is a part), to satisfy the palates of other migrants from the district. Over time, they gained popularity as places to have South Indian food. As the tastes of their customers evolved, their menus too evolved, so much that now you can find Mughlai, Indian Chinese, Bhelpuri and other chaats in addition to South Indian stuff. Amazingly, some places serve imitations of pizzas, burgers and sandwiches too!

They are fast food joints and sit-down restaurants combined. The reason to visit them is not to experience fine gourmet dining, but to have cheap, passably tasty and fairly hygienic food. There is no easy way to identify an Udupi restaurant – they are not a chain of restaurants and they may not have “Udupi” in their name – so you will have to ask.

Though present all over the city, they started in the Matunga area. Madras Cafe is one of the oldest Udipi Restaurants in King’s Circle (Maheshwari Udyan)

Irani cafes

Absolutely the best for “Chai” and “Makhan-Pau (bread and butter). Also for assorted snacks, like Kheema-na-Patice, samosas, mava-na-cakes, etc. The best dish which is always on the menu is Kheema Pav. Kheema ( prepared from ground meat) & pav ( bread). One of the best places to eat is Cafe Military which is in the Fort area ( near the Bombay Stock Exchange). Majority of their customers are upscale like lawyers, bankers & stock brokers because of which the quality is good. Inspite of that the prices are very low, average entree would cost around US $ 1 or 40 Indian Rupees.

Thalis

If you order a thali (lit: “plate”), you will get a complete meal arranged on your plate, with a roti or chappati, rice and many different varieties of curries and curd. Ordering a thali is a popular option when you are hungry and in a hurry as it will usually be served blazingly fast. Most mid-level restaurants will have a thali on the menu, at least during lunch hours. Occasionally, they will be “unlimited”, which means that some of the items are all-you-can-eat. The waiters will actually serve them at your table.

Of course, you will find many varieties of them, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There is the South Indian thali. The “North Indian” thali translates to Mughlai, i.e. Punjabi. Do try the Gujarati or Rajasthani thalis if you can find them. They are sinfully filling and tasty. Rajdhani (At Crawford Market) serves up thalis in the Rajasthani style while Aram (near Mahim Church, Mahim) and Shree Thakker Bhojanalaya (off Kalbadevi Road) do filling and fabulous Gujarati thalis.

Fast food chains

Surprisingly, there is no fast-food chain in Mumbai serving Indian cuisine. But Western chains like McDonalds, Subway, Pizza hut, Dominos etc. have many outlets all over the city. But if you are a weary westerner looking for the taste of the familiar, be warned that all of them have rather heavily Indianized their menus, so you will find the stuff there as exotic as you found Bambaiyya food. However, Barista, Cafe Coffee Day, and Smokin’ Joe’s are all Indian chains, although they don’t serve Indian food. While Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, as there names suggest, serve coffee and pastries, Smokin’ Joe’s serves decent pizzas and is headquatered in Carmichael Rd, Mumbai.

What to eat

  • Vada Pav, The vada is a mashed potato patty. Pav is a kind of bread that has its roots in Mumbai. (The word comes from the Portugese word “pão”, for bread). The potato patty is sandwiched in the bread. Liberal helpings of three kinds of chutneys (sauces) are also added to the sandwich to make a seriously tasty snack. It is widely available on the streets and most folks price it Rs. 4 a piece. If you feel uncomfortable with the hygiene of a particular stall, avoid it. The Jumbo Vada Pav outlets at almost all train stations in the city are hygienic and its not risky to have Vada Pav from there.
  • Pav bhaji. Again part of the street food culture – this is mashed vegetables cooked in spices, topped with butter and served piping hot with pav. Widely available.
  • Bhel puri and sev puri. Again a classic Mumbai concoction, bhel-puri or bhel in short comprises mostly of puffed rice and assorted spices with a few chutneys. You can specify whether you want it spicy or bland and the vendor will make it for you. It is quite tasty and again ought to be had off the streets to get the real flavour. Most people though, like to flock to Juhu beach to try this out.
  • Pani puri. For first timers, this can be seriously intriguing. The vendor hands you a plate. Next he takes a puri (it looks like a golf ball, but brown in color), makes a small hole in it, and dips the puri into two jars. These jars contain water – one tangy on a tamarind base, the other spicy on a mint base. He tops it off with some condiments and places the puri on your plate. You got to pick it with your hand and pop the whole thing into your mouth. The outcome is an explosion. Awesome. A word of caution here though. Make sure you don’t have your pani puri from any vendor. The best vendors use only packaged water. Stick to that and enjoy the taste.
  • Indian-Chinese, nothing like regular Chinese. For a typical Bambaiyya flavour, try the Chinese Bhelpuri!.
  • Variations of world cuisine such as Tandoori Chicken Pizzas or McAloo Tikki burgers
  • If you happen to be in Mumbai in summer, try eating some Hapus (Alphonso) mangoes.

Drink

Coffeeshops

There many coffeeshops in and around Mumbai. Try the Cafe Coffee Day and Barista chains of coffee shops there are the best around town and also serve some pretty neat coffee for cheap. There’s the Cafe Mocha chain of coffee shops which also serve fruit flavoured hookas- South asian smoking pipes. If a small coffee and cookies place is what you are looking for, try Theobroma, it has an outlet at Cusrow Baug in Colaba. Those looking for a more native form of coffee can try the filter coffee, a milky coffee with origins from South India, from any Udipi restaurant.

Alcohol

  • Toto’s Garage Pub, 30, Lourdes Haven Pali Junction, Bandra West 400 050. (Off Pali Market) +91 22 2600 5494. Toto’s is the closest you will ever come to a Western bar. The place fires up every single night throughout the week, the beer is great and the place is packed with locals and the occasional tourist. But don’t go in expecting a seat. The tables are hard to get even if they’re empty. They are parked with ‘reserved’ signs unless you are a party of 4 or 6. 6 p.m.-12 midnight. Rs. 250 (average per person)
  • Indigo, An exclusive lounge & bar located at Colaba causeway behind Hotel Taj Mahal in South Mumbai is a not to miss destination. +91 22 56368980. On the expensive side with an average drink costing Rs. 250 upwards. Boasts of a large wine collection & also serves superb fusion food.
  • Head to the nightclubs in Phoenix Mills: Ra & Lush. Jazz by the Bay (opposite Ambassador Hotel) is a small bar with live performances on most nights.
  • The newly opened “Dome” in the Intercontinetal Hotel provides a great view of the city.
  • Zenzi at Bandra sees a lot of the expatriate crowd apart from models and filmmakers. Drinks aren’t chap and the service is slow but the place is always buzzing.

==Sleep== You can also find for-pay Wi-fi at the airport, provided by Tata Indicom.

Stay safe

One of the safest and economical place to stay in Mumbai is the YMCA. Reasonably priced accomodation are available at the Colaba, Bombay Central, Andheri and CBD Belapur Branches. For more details log on to http://www.ymcabombay.com

For a city of its size and global importance, Mumbai is quite safe. Though many people seem to think that Mumbai is full of underworld gangs and pickpocets, Mumbai is probably the safest city in the world with over 15 million inhabitants. However, there are a few basic safety tips -

  • Keep your money, credit card, passport and important documents safely with you at all times.
  • Do not display 500 and 1000 rupee notes in public.
  • Beware of pickpockets on BEST buses.
  • In case of danger, call 100 from your cell phone or the nearest phone booth.

Although violent crime in Mumbai is much less than in Delhi or in a large American city, it does sometimes occur.

Emergency numbers

  • Police: 100
  • Fire: 101
  • Ambulance: 102

The services have improved quite a bit but they are more likely to respond to a phone call from a house/office etc rather than a public phone.

Cope

Get out

  • Mumbai Metropolitan Region: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region around Mumbai is fast developing into a major conurbation. If you need to get to the surrounding cities of Thane, Navi Mumbai or Kalyan, bus services are available
    • TMT (Thane Municipal Transport) operates services in the Thane city and areas around it.
    • The MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation), commonly known as ST, operates services from selected points in the city to the extended suburbs. From Dadar, services to Navi Mumbai and Panvel and from Borivali to Thane being the most prominent. Numerous other important routes are also covered in the MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) by the MSRTC.
    • NMMT (Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport) operates services in Navi Mumbai Area, and a few points around. They also have services from Mulund in Greater Mumbai.
    • KDMT (Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Transport) operates in the Kalyan-Dombivali Area with a few connections to Navi Mumbai.
The suburban train service, mentioned above, does a good job of connecting the surrounding cities.
  • Raigad district of Maharashtra lies just south of Mumbai. It is famous for its beaches and forts. You can get there by road or by ferry from Mumbai. The important ferry routes are:
    • Ferry Wharf, Mazagaon – Mora (Uran)
    • Ferry Wharf, Mazagaon – Rewas (near Mandwa) -These are in the budget range.
    • Gateway of India – Rewas Fast boats and Catamarans operated by private operators. Service approximately every 2 hours, suspended during the monsoon season, i.e. May-October. From Rewas, take a bus or car to Alibag.

welcome in Vajreshwari

 

The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory
The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory

THE red-and-yellow bus at Vasai Road station had only one door. A Koli woman and her three fish baskets were trying to get in through it. My spirits sank. Imagine starting off on a Sunday pilgrimage immersed in the smell of raw fish!

The bus slowly filled up with other smells and sounds. A basketful of bananas, another of assorted greens and a jerry can of heavy-duty oil joined the fish. A hawker thrust a packet of pens under my nose. A packet of chana floated outside the window. Thankfully, the man in the next row had an English newspaper opened wide.

The bus was old and rickety. Once we got into the countryside, its creeks and rattles seemed to bring the low clouds alive! The Konkan countryside turns a vivid green with the onset of monsoon. The hillsides present a blend of black igneous rock and green grasses or short trees. By the time the grey battlements of the Vajreshwari temple came into sight, we had spent over an hour on this green road.

The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory. Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao I, got it built after the Marathas conquered the Bassein fort in 1739.

 

Vajreshwari entered Indra's vajra to slay the demon Kalikat
Vajreshwari entered Indra’s vajra to slay the demon Kalikat

The temple stands atop a hillock by the road. A flight of 52 steps leads up to the main gate. Half way up, I stopped at the landing to survey the ground below. The Tansa, a small river, shone into view. It executes a crisp ‘L’ before slowly rolling into the cloud-draped hills.

A large board in the main gate’s side states the temple’s history but it is in Marathi. Though the gate is clearly old, the covered walkway that connects it to the sanctum is not. The original temple must have stood in a walled courtyard, unconnected to the gate. It was a grey stone structure, probably dome roofed. But now the curves of domes are visible only from the inside. Both the sanctum and the forecourt have concave ceilings, capped by cement spires.

The temple is dedicated to goddess Vajreshwari but the sanctum also has idols of goddess Renuka and goddess Kalika on either side of the main Vajreshwari idol. Smaller idols of Ganesha and other gods and goddesses are carved in the pillars and walls of the forecourt.

 

 

 

Divine cure

Last year, scientists of the National Chemical Laboratory isolated a molecule that inhibits the AIDS causing HIV-1 protease, from a microbe that thrives in the high temperature and alkaline conditions of a hot spring in Vajreshwari.

How to get there

Vajreshwari lies in Thane district of Maharashtra, 31 km from Vasai Road station. The suburban train from Andheri in Mumbai takes 45 minutes to reach Vasai Road. The fare is Rs 8. The state transport bus from Vasai Road to Vajreshwari charges Rs 18. Travel time is one hour and 15 minutes.

Both Renuka and Vajreshwari are widely revered in the North. The Renuka lake in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh is named after Renuka, mother of sage Parshurama, while Kangra and Chamba have famous Vajreshwari temples.

The Tansa flows here and the village is well known for its 21 hot water springs
The Tansa flows here and the village is well known for its 21 hot water springs

Vajreshwari has a balmy air about it
Vajreshwari has a balmy air about it

The legend goes that Parshurama had performed a mahayajna at Vajreshwari and the hills of volcanic ash in the area are its residue. The Parshurama connection somewhat explains the worship of Renuka in the area but the Vajreshwari legend is quite complicated. In fact, there are differing beliefs about the goddess.

In Kangra, for instance, it is believed that the Vajreshwari temple marks the site where the left breast of Sati Parvati had fallen. But in Vasai, one belief is that the goddess came to be called Vajreshwari after she swallowed Indra’s vajra (thunderbolt), which he had hurled at the sage Vashishtha. There is another belief that the goddess is called Vajreshwari because she entered Indra’s Vajra to slay the demon Kalikat.

Whatever the myth, the Vajreshwari shrine makes for a great outing due to its picturesque setting. On emerging from the temple, I walked down to Akloli village, about a kilometre ahead. The Tansa flows here but the village is better known for its 21 hot water springs. The presence of these springs is attributed to the volcanic past of the region. In all, there are about 350 hot springs in the Tejsa, Tansa and Surya rivers of Vasai taluka.

Vajreshwari has a balmy air about it. Hardly a jarring shade in the miles of green… I crossed the bridge on the Tansa and walked down the rocks to the edge of the water. A farmer and his daughter were spending the Sunday afternoon fishing from a rock. I sat down to snap up their catch with my camera!

Sri Malang Gad, Haji Malang

Trek Sri Malang gad, Haji Malang
Alias -
Type Hill Fort
District Raigad
Height above mean sea level 2596 feet
Nearest Village Kalyan
Minimum Duration 1 Day
Region Karjat
Transport

By Train reach Kalyan. Buses are available from Kalyan to the base of the fort on a regular basis

Time to reach the top About 2 hours from the base
Water Availability Water is available through the small hotels on the way. Best is to carry your own water from Kalyan.
Best season to visit Any season except monsoon
Sights to visit HajiMalang Dargah, Maachi and balekilla of the fort.
Difficulty Rating Reaching maachi is quiet easy but going to balekilla is quiet tough
Shelter No shelter is available
Location
A view from Malang GadSituated at the border of Thane-Raigad districts is known more for the Dargah of Malang Baba, halfway up the mountain. But above the Dargah there is a much more hidden thrill for the trekkers, which one may not expect.

Shri Malang Gad is situated at a distance of 13 K.m. from Kalyan. Kalyan is well connected to Mumbai by rail as well as road. Frequent S.T. buses are available from Kalyan S.T. station to the base. About one and half hours climbing by steps will take you to the Dargah. 20 mins from Dargah up to the mountain will take you to the Balekilla (citadel). The pinnacle of the Shri Malang Gad is supposed to be the real challenge for the professional trekkers, but for amateur trekkers reaching the pinnacle by a very very narrow path should also be a thrilling experience.

 
 Precaution
View of Malang gad from the base The way to the Dargah has many exhaustive steps (water is available throughout from the small hotel’s). Beggers on th eway are irritating.
 
 Sight Seeing
Way to the balekillaOne can visit the Haji Malang dargah on the way to the fort. From the Balekilla (citadel) we can see Chanderi, Matheran range to the south, Kalyan city, Mahuli to the north and Mumbai (with part of sea)to the west.
 
 Note
   All references regarding duration of trek and transport are given with respect to Kalyan
photographs
Darwaja on the way to machi The only way to reach the Balekilla
Darwaja on the way to Machi. The only way to reach the Balekilla.

Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves are a  great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai meteropolis. The Elephanta island is located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century CE.

 The Elephanta island was so named by the Portuguese, after the statue of an elephant near the landing area of the island. These rock cut temples dedicated to Shiva Mahadeva are rich in sculptural content. Motorboats take passengers from Appollo Bunder near the Gateway of India. .

How They were Constructed: This rock cut temples were created by carving out rock, and creating the columns, the internal spaces and the images. The entire temple is akin to a huge sculpture, through whose corridors and chambers one can walk. The entire complex was created through a process of rock removal. Some of the rock surfaces are highly finished while some are untreated bare rock.

The entire cave temple complex covers an area of about 60000 squrare feet and it consists  a main chamber and two lateral ones , courtyards and several subsidary shrines. Above the temple is the mass of natural rock.

There are three entrances to this temple. The ones on the east and the west marking the axis of the temple. A 20 pillared hall lines the axis, and on its western end is the cella in shich is enshrined a Shivalingam. The pillars consist of fluted columns standing on square bases, and are crowned with fluted cushion capitals.

The enigmatic image of Trimurthi Sadasiva: The Sadasiva manifestation of Shiva is carved in relief at the end of the north south axis.  This collossal 20 feet high  image of the three headed Shiva, Trimurthy is a magnificient one, considered to be a masterpiece of Indian art.  This colossal image represents Panchamukha Shiva, only three faces of whom are carved into the wall and it demands immediate attention upon entering the temple through the northern entrance. Also on the southern wall are grand sculptured images of Kalyanasundara, Gangadhara, Ardhanariswara and Uma Maheswara. To the west of the northern entrance are sculptured images of Nataraja and Andhakaasuravadamoorthy, and to its east are images of Yogiswara and Ravanaanugrahamurthy.

Thus in the Elephanta caves, Shiva is portrayed in the non anthropomorphic Shivalingam form, as well as in his quintessential being emanating from the Shivalingam in the colossal image, and in 8 manifest forms.

To the east of the main temple is a courtyard, flanked by the secondary shrine. This temple contains six pillars at its entrance, four of which are free standing and two engaged. The entrance leads to a hall decorated with sculptured panels depicting legends from the Shiva Purana.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Founder of ISKCON: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as ‘the Hare Krishna‘ was founded in 1966 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. While some classified the sect as a new religious movement, its core philosophy is based on scriptures such as the Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, both of which date back thousands of years. The distinctive appearance of the movement and its culture come from the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition, which has had adherents in India ever since the late 1400s.

ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of ‘Bhakti Yoga‘ (The Yoga of Devotion); wherein aspirant devotees (Bhaktas) dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing the Supreme Lord, Krishna (seen as nondifferent from God).

Philosophy and history

Srila Prabhupada dancing with devotees at Bhaktivedanta Manor in England

Srila Prabhupada dancing with devotees at Bhaktivedanta Manor in England

Hare Krishna devotees believe that Krishna is the origin of Lord Vishnu. They honor Krishna as the highest form of God, and often refer to him as “the Supreme Personality of Godhead” in writing, which was a phrase coined by Srila Prabhupada in his books on the subject. Devotees consider Radha to be Krishna’s female counterpart, the embodiment of love. An important aspect of their philosophy is the belief that the individual soul is an eternal personal identity which does not ultimately merge into any formless light or void as suggested by the monistic (advaita) schools of Hinduism.

Hare Krishna devotees specifically follow a disciplic line of Gaudiya, or Bengali, Vaisnavas which comes under the general description of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Gaudiya Vaisnavism has had a continuous following in India, especially West Bengal and Orissa for the past five hundred years. Srila Prabhupada popularized Gaudiya Vaishnava Theology in the Western world through extensive writings and translations, including Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) and Chaitanya Charitamrita and other scriptures. These works are now available in more than sixty languages and serve as the canon of ISKCON. Many of these books are now available online [1]. More about these books, their commentaries and production is here.

The ‘Maha Mantra’

The popular nickname of “Hare Krishnas” for devotees of this movement comes from the mantra that devotees sing aloud or chant quietly on rosary-like beads, called Japa mala. This mantra, known also as the Maha Mantra, contains the names of God ‘Hare‘, ‘Krishna‘ and ‘Rama‘. Devotees believe that the sound vibration created by repeating these names of God gradually induces pure God-consciousness, or “Krishna consciousness.”

The Maha Mantra :

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

The seven purposes of ISKCON

When Srila Prabhupada first incorporated ISKCON, in 1966, he gave it seven purposes:

  1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
  2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
  3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus to develop the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
  4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
  5. To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
  6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
  7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

The four regulative principles

An Iskcon street festival in the 1970's

An Iskcon street festival in the 1970’s

Srila Prabhupada prescribed four regulative principles as the basis of the spiritual life:

  • No eating of meat, fish or eggs
  • No illicit sex
  • No gambling
  • No intoxication (including alcohol, caffeine and tobacco).

Spreading the word

ISKCON is actively evangelistic. Members try to spread Krishna consciousness by, for example, going on the streets to chant the mantra or to sell books written by the sect’s founder. According to the doctrine of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, one does not need to be born in a Hindu family to take up the practice of Vaishnavism. This openness places ISKCON in strong contrast to many other branches of Hinduism, which stress on hereditary lineage and are non-missionary by nature. There are ISKCON communities around the world with schools, restaurants and farms. Many ISKCON temples also have programs (like Food for Life Global) to provide meals for the needy. Also, ISKCON has recently brought the academic study of Krishna into western academia as Krishnology.

ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada’s death

Srila Prabhupada spent much of the last decade of his life setting up the institution of ISKCON. As a charismatic leader, Srila Prabhupada’s personality and management were responsible for much of the growth of ISKCON and the reach of his mission.

Upon Prabhupada’s death on November 14, 1977, eleven of his disciples became initiating gurus for ISKCON. Those chosen were Satsvarupa dasa Goswami [2], Jayapataka Swami [3], Hridayananda Goswami, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Bhavananda Goswami, Hamsaduta Swami, Ramesvara Swami, Harikesa Swami, Bhagavan dasa Adhikari, Kirtanananda Swami, and Jayatirtha dasa Adhikari. Of these eleven, the first three are still actively preaching within ISKCON, as was Tamal Krishna Goswami until his death in a car accident in March 2002.

ISKCON is managed by the Governing Body Commission created by Srila Prabhupada to handle affairs in his absence. The authority and mission of this body has evolved since the time of Prabhupada’s demise in 1977.

Scandal and controversy

ISKCON has been involved in a number of scandals and controversies.

In 1998, an article in ISKCON Communications Journal, the society’s official publication, detailed physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children at the society’s boarding schools in India and the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. The group received praise for its candor but later was sued by 95 people who had attended the schools.

Facing the fiscal drain likely to ensue from this legal action, the ISKCON centers involved declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This allowed them to work out a settlement of US$9.5 million, meant to compensate not only the former students who had brought the suit but also any others who had undergone abuse but not sued.[4] About 430 such people responded to newspaper advertisements seeking to identify them. Individual victims are expected to receive between $6,000 and $50,000, depending on the nature and duration of their abuse.

To guard against further abuses, ISKCON has established a child protection office with teams worldwide, meant to screen out actual or potential abusers, educate children and adults on child abuse, and encourage due vigilance.[5] A petition circulating (as of July 2006) among ISKCON members calls for “zero tolerance” for past offenders.[6]

In 1990, US Courts pronounced Kirtanananda Swami, the leader of the ‘New Vrindavan’ religious community (which was expelled from ISKCON for ten years between 1988-1998) [1] guilty on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to murder for his role in the death of two devotees who had threatened his control of the community. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on the racketeering charge, but was released in June 2004 for health reasons. Another notable case, involving a woman named Robin George and her parents, went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. [7]

In response to the need to establish transparency and accountability among its members, ISKCON encouraged the establishment of an ombudsman organization, “ISKCONResolve.[8] The Integrated Conflict Management System (ICMS) also provides facilitators, arbitrators, and conflict analysis experts. The organisation says that ICMS is designed to give all members of ISKCON a voice and to bring the ISKCON leadership to higher levels of transparency and accountability.

Points of philosophical contention

After Srila Prabhupada died, a number of theological controversies arose.

The origin of the soul

Srila Prabhupada explains that the soul falls from the spiritual world to this material world and the supreme objective of the human life is to become Krishna conscious to be able to return “Back to Godhead” (this is also the title of the official ISKCON magazine). However Sarasvata Gaudiya Vaisnavas teach that the soul apparently has never been in the spiritual world. More information is available in the book ‘Our Original Position’ published by GBC Press and the article ‘Where Do the Fallen Souls Fall From?’[9]

The Guru and the Parampara

Passing of knowledge is named Parampara, or disciplic succession. Some Gaudiya Vaisnavas claim that one needs to learn only from Srila Prabhupada and there should be no other gurus. Just before his physical departure, Srila Prabhupada set up a system of initiation employing the use of ritviks (ceremonial priests) who would continue to initiate on his behalf, without the need for his physical involvement (as, during this time, he was unable to travel). Based on Srila Prabhupada’s statements in letters, most agree that it was right that the system stopped upon Prabhupada’s passing. Thus, the proxy-initiation ritvik system was put aside in 1977, on the basis of Prabhupada’s instructions in letters and tapes.

A minority, named ISKCON Revival Movement, say it was a permanent order meant to continue even after Prabhupada died. More information about the proxy-initiation ritvik position is offered in “The Final Order,” the main position paper of the IRM.

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