Did You Know That There’s More to Mumbai Than Bollywood and Tinsel Town?

places to visit in mumbai

“I have heard of Mumbai before. It’s that huge city in India which is home to its film industry, isn’t that Bollywood?  I don’t really watch Indian films or music much, but I have found the few which I have watched to be colorful and full of life, especially with all of those song and dance numbers!” 

Well, if this is what you say when you hear the town ‘Mumbai’ mentioned, you really need to read this article. You will learn that there is much more to one of the largest metros in the world than a huge filming industry. This article will cover the top places to visit in Mumbai.

What is the ‘real Mumbai’ all about

“I don’t know much about Mumbai, except that it’s a huge metro which I think is located somewhere on the Arabian coast!” 

Wow! You really need to read this section if that is all that you know about this amazing and dynamic metro. Mumbai is the financial capital of India. The major stock exchanges BSE is located here. This metro has a history that stretches back centuries, is full of interesting events, and is reflected in the architecture and building style of its most popular and best-known buildings, monuments, and landmarks.

Its name has roots in interesting origins. The metro was recently renamed Mumbai. It was previously called Bombay.  The colonizing Portuguese called it Bom Bahia which means Beautiful Bay in Portuguese. Its current name is derived from the major goddess which members of the original inhabiting tribe (Koli) worshipped. Her name was Mumba Devi.

Some must visit places in Mumbai

  • Victorian and Art Deco Museum

  • Ajanta and Ellora Elephanta caves

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station

  • Bollywood

  • Gateway of India

Victorian and Art Deco buildings

These buildings were built when Queen Victoria of England ruled India in the 19th century. It is one of the top places to see in Mumbai largely because of its recent designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. People still live in and use these buildings and this is part of what makes them unique. This cluster of buildings includes offices, museums, apartments, and cinemas, among others. The buildings are separated into two different groups, each with its distinctive architectural style and designs. The first group consists of the Victorian section. These buildings were built in the Neo-Gothic style which characterized Victorian buildings in England and in other parts of the British empire in the late 19th century.

The second section consists of The Art Deco whose buildings are constructed in traditional Indian architecture and design combined with Art Deco styles – hence the name The Art Deco. If there ever was a set of buildings that symbolized and represented the immense modernization efforts Mumbai has undergone in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, The Victorian and Art Deco buildings would be them.

Ajanta and Ellora Elephanta caves

These two caves are nearby places to visit in Mumbai which you must see. Located on the outskirts of Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora caves were designed by Buddhist inspired artists beginning in the 2nd century B.C. and ending in the 6th century. The artwork reflects the compassion and respect for humanity which Buddhism teaches.

The Ajanta caves which were carved out of rock make a horseshoe formation. This collection of 29 caves sports Buddhist shrines and Viharas (monasteries) which were used by monks when meditating and studying. The buildings and caves are filled with sculptures and paintings and are made out of architecture which reflects ancient Buddhist beliefs and events which transpired in Buddha’s life. The artwork also depicts stories that tell the trials and tribulations that Buddhist deities faced in daily life. If you visit these caves, a must-see artwork is the Jataka paintings that tell stories about the various forms of Lord Buddha as he traveled along his journey to becoming the ‘divine one!’

Also Read: Places to Visit in Delhi

The Ellora caves are carved into temples and monasteries which contain sculptures reflecting Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu doctrines and beliefs. The group of 34 caves which are positioned in a linear manner contains worship halls, monasteries, and various Hindu and Jain temples which are awe-inspiring. They were built and designed between the 5th and 11th centuries A.D. Both caves are designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites largely because of the influence of their artwork on later Indian art!

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station

This great station was originally the Victoria Terminus Station. It displays the best in Victorian Neo-Classical Gothic revival architecture and artwork in India. The station blends the best in Victorian designs and styles with key themes from traditional Indian architecture. The not-so-well-known British architect F.W. Stevens built and designed this building with the intent of making it the centerpiece in his vision of making Mumbai the ideal ‘Gothic City.’

The building of the terminus began in 1878 and finished in 1888. Its Victorian architectural components were inspired by Italian architectural models which were popular in Europe during the later part of the European Middle ages (late 13th and the first part of the 14th century.) Locals and visitors alike marvel it’s many architectural wonders which include stone domes, turrets, and pointed arches. The fact that it was built according to a unique and unusual ground plan and blueprint only adds to its charm and mysteriousness. It was the center of activity when Mumbai began to be India’s mercantile capital in the late 19th century.


From its humble roots as a fledgling film industry that produced patriotic films designed to drive the British out of India in the 1930s to the huge film empire, it is today, Bollywood is one of the top places to visit in Mumbai. The area is a collection of cinema halls, production studios, and other edifices associated with movie-making. The buildings are designed in building, architectural, and art styles that blend traditional Indian elements with more modern ones. Many of these buildings are known for the abstract themes which their unique artwork brings them. The more recent buildings are built in the Western modern architectural and artistic styles.

Gateway of India

Located in Colaba, South Mumbai, this arched wonder sports the best in Indo-Saracenic artwork and architectural style.  This is what makes it a must see place in Mumbai. It is also one of the most unique monuments in India.  Built-in 1924, and located at the tip of Apollo Bunder, it overlooks Mumbai Harbor and the famous Arabian Sea. The Gateway of India cost India’s provincial government 21 lakhs to build because of its ornateness. It was designed to represent the might, grandeur, and glory of the British Raj, as well as the power the British had in India at the time. A visit here will allow you to see a throwback to the uniqueness of India’s colonial past. You’ll also amuse yourself with the many vendors and food stalls located there. This is the perfect place to enjoy a picture opp with a photographer.

Other must-see places in Mumbai

  • Heritage Buildings

  • Marine Drive Art Deco

  • Kala Ghoda Art Precinct

  • Banganga Tank

  • Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat

Mumbai is full of interesting places

“Wow! It’s obvious that Mumbai has a lot of interesting places to see with rich artwork, architectural designs, and histories!” 

Well, if you thought that what was described above was amazing, you should do your own research to find more awesome places to see in Mumbai. Indeed, this amazing metro which was once given as dowry to a Portuguese Queen is full of life and wonder!

Categorized as Travel

By Prita Kulkarni

Prita is a Natural Born Writer & consultant with 3 years of training in consulting, writing, and analytical work. Her strong points are in market research and analysis, social media and digital marketing, networking, and business development. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from UC Riverside and an MBA with an emphasis in business plan development from Baylor University.

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