Mumbai (Maharashtra) Tourist Places to Visit. Internationally, Mumbai is probably the most recognizable face of India; this is due to the rise of Mumbai as the financial powerhouse of our country. Mumbai is a city of skyscrapers, posh hotels and the biggest businesses. Mumbai is where the biggest international brands open shop first before expanding to other cities in India, if ever. Mumbai is a city of contrasts, where the rich and the famous live cheek by jowl with sprawling ‘Chawls’ or slums. The paradox that Mumbai is can be understood perfectly by the fact that it contains the most expensive residence in the whole world and it also contains Asia’s largest slum in Dharavi. It is not too rare to spot famous faces on the road when living in Mumbai and this close proximity between the uber rich and the common people gives Mumbai a distinct feel. It is rightly said that there is something in the air of Mumbai which makes people believe in even the most impossible of dreams, it makes people sleep on roads, in railway stations and bus stops in the mad pursuit of their passions. Forget the witches and wizards, the myths and folklore, if you want magical realism Mumbai is the place you should be heading to.
If you are sceptical about the tall claims that we are making, you just have to sit on Marine Drive and watch the waves gently lap at your feet, these waters contain the memories of distant shores that you have never seen, while traffic passes by behind you and majestic buildings dominate the scene. Once you have experienced this you will know what we mean.
List of Mumbai (Maharashtra) Tourist Places to Visit
Mumbai with its frenetic pace may not be to everyone’s taste as a place to live, but visiting Mumbai for a holiday is a must for everybody and if you want to know why then read on!
- The Gateway of India-First things first, every school child in India knows that two of the most famous monuments in India are the India Gate and the Gateway of India. One of them is in Mumbai and the other in New Delhi, but people often forget which is which, thus for the benefit of those people we hereby make it clear that The Gateway of India is found in Mumbai, which makes India Gate a ‘Delhi’ite by default. Jokes apart, the Gateway of India is a relic of the British era, it is a majestic structure which was built in 1924, to mark the arrival of King George V and his wife Queen Mary. The Gateway is a very popular tourist destination, where you can sit and watch the endless seas for hours. You can see big ocean vessels in the distance on a clear day, closer home you will find a diverse array of boats and ferries. Ranging from multimillion dollar yachts to motor boats to the humble oared boats, everything can be seen here. The ferries are another tourist draw, and for a small amount you can buy half an hour worth of joyride on the Arabian Sea, or you could just while away your time watching the seagulls, hearing their cries as they snatch food from the hands of unwitting passengers on the ferry, watching the ferries disgorging happy travelers after a ride while the next lot stands ready to jump in and go for a voyage on the seas. You can also see the iconic Taj Mahal hotel from here as it is just across the road from the Gateway of India.
- Haji Ali- Although the place has been mired in controversy in recent times for barring the entry of women to its inner sanctum, it does not take away from the fact that Haji Ali along with the Gateway of India is one of the most famous landmarks of Mumbai. The shrine has been built in honour of Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Haji Ali is visited by people of all faiths, who flock to the shrine seeking blessings. The shrine itself is a sight for sore eyes with its beautiful architecture and scenic location. The lively atmosphere around the shrine uplifts one’s spirits. If you are lucky you may even catch a ‘qawwali’ performance here. One unique feature of the Haji Ali dargah is that, since it is built about half a kilometer away from the coast, the path that leads up to the shrine remains submerged during high tide and can only be traversed when the water recedes during low tide.
- Juhu Beach- For those who wonder what the fuss is all about when it comes to Juhu beach, as they imagine Juhu to be an ordinary beach in their minds, could not be more mistaken. Juhu beach is probably the most well known beach in India, and on any given day, even in the middle of the week, the beach is always full of people ranging from tourists to localites. A typical scene in Juhu involves families and friends coming in groups and bathing in the sea, invariably someone slips and falls, and then scrambles upright sputtering sea water while their friends and families laugh their heads off. In one corner we can see love birds lounging on the sand, enjoying each other’s company. Beach cricket matches are always going on and there are balloon and toy vendors to keep children happy. After the sand and sun when the pangs of hunger hit you, you could not be at a better place than Juhu . This place is a food lover’s delight and caters to a diverse variety of tastes. An added bonus of visiting Juhu is that, it is the area where many famous faces live and if lady luck smiles on you, you might just end up catching a glimpse of your favourite stars or maybe even a selfie or two.
- Marine Drive- Describing Marine Drive as a road is like describing Amitabh Bachchan as just an ordinary actor. Marine Drive is one of the most iconic and identifiable places in Mumbai, it has been showcased in countless movies over the years, thereby cementing its iconic position. It is a 4 km long piece of asphalt, with a breathtaking view of the sea on one side and several iconic structures like the Wankhede stadium on the other. Marine drive is extremely popular with joggers and morning walkers. All throughout the day couples can be seen sitting along the walls, lost in the first flush of love, with the waves breaking on those walls and spraying their feet with water and making things impossibly romantic. Marine drive is bustling with activity all throughout the day and deep into the night. You will be hard pressed to find Marine Drive empty and desolate at any time. The breeze that comes off the sea is like manna from heaven after a hard day’s work. At night when the street lights come on, Marine drive seems like a place from a fairy tale. The distinct curve of the road along with the brilliant lights dotting it gives this iconic road its other popular name, the ‘Queen’s Necklace’.
- Chowpatty Beach- Located at one end of Marine Drive this is another famous beach in Mumbai. Even though it is smaller than the Juhu beach, what this beach lacks in size it makes up for it in spirit. It has an endless supply of vendors selling everything from toys, hats and trinkets to balloons and ice cream. Even here there are food stalls where you can savour typical dishes Mumbai is famous for such as Vada Pao, Ragda Patties etc. There are rides like the giant wheel for the enjoyment of children.
- Goregaon Film City- Mumbai is the home of Bollywood and so it must come as no surprise that Mumbai has its own film city. Built in the late 1970’s this place is a movie buff’s delight, with its plethora of artificial mountains, lakes, even whole villages and cities it literally transports you to another world. It has locations such as temples, prisons and even an artificial waterfall where many a famous movie has been shot. It also contains all the facilities and modern amenities that are required for shooting a movie.
- The Elephanta Caves- The caves are located on an island of the same name and this island is located at a distance of 9 kilometres from the shores of Mumbai. People who wish to visit the island can take a ferry from the Gateway of India. The fare is inclusive of the return trip, thus you do not have to pay again once you are on the island. The island with its ancient caves dedicated to Lord Shiva and other Hindu deities are magnificent in its own right, but what makes the trip much more enjoyable is the ferry ride to and from the island. Upon reaching the island, there is quite a bit of walking to do to reach the base of the hill where the caves are located but much to the delight of first timers, there’s a train which operates from the point where you disembark from the ferry to the base of the hill and this train will ferry you there for a nominal fee. The train looks more like a joy ride at a fair but the 10 minute long journey is quite enjoyable nonetheless. Those planning to visit these caves should wear comfortable and sturdy footwear because a visit to Elephanta requires quite a bit of climbing and the wrong choice in footwear shall spoil the entire trip for you. There are services available, where tourists are ferried to the top of the hill in a sort of palanquin held by four men, however these services are quite exorbitantly priced and mostly used by the aged or the arthritic for whom the walk is next to impossible. On a side note, the island is full of monkeys, and these critters are quite cheeky so you should be wary of them, especially while eating or drinking.
- Siddhivinayak Temple- At the risk of sounding repetitive, Siddhivinayak Temple is another iconic Mumbai treasure that almost everyone has heard about. It is not our fault that every famous place about Mumbai is so iconic and prevalent in mainstream media. It could have a lot to do with most of these places being featured in movies regularly, or on the national news whenever any actor or director visits them to pray for the success of their movies. Siddhivinayak Temple is one such place; this temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha attracts followers from all walks of life irrespective of race or religion. Be it the biggest film star or the meanest beggar. In addition to its religious significance the temple which was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century is an architectural beauty and warrants a visit just for that.
- Essel World- Yeah all the well heeled might scoff at our excitement over Essel World, those who have visited the Disneylands and the Disney Worlds may look down at our more humble attempt to recreate the same magic. However for most of us this is the closest we shall get to the fabled Disney amusement parks and truth be told we aren’t complaining. With its plethora of thrilling rides and roller coasters we feel Essel World offers enough thrills and chills for even the most hardened amusement park aficionado. Thus it is not surprising that the park witnesses footfalls in the thousands on a daily basis. The park is not only about thrills and chills it also contains rides for children and the best thing about it is that the amusement park remains open all year long.
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park- This is not an ordinary park optimistically calling itself a National Park. This park is an actual wildlife reserve and is located in a huge metropolis like Mumbai. This makes it one of the strangest places that anyone would expect to visit from a megacity like Mumbai. This park also known as the Borivali National Park is home to exotic flora and fauna including and I kid you not, leopards, hyenas, pythons, cobras, crocodiles and the list goes on and on. So if you had your doubts, now you can see that this park means serious business.
- Chor Bazaar- A popular legend in Mumbai goes like this; if you ever have your valuables stolen you can always come to Chor Bazaar and buy them back. Now the veracity of this legend is suspect, however if you are looking for vintage furniture, antique pieces or even spare parts of old, out of production cars then this is the place to be. This is the largest flea market in India and mostly deals in second hand goods, though it’s better not to look too deep into the provenance of some of the goods sold there. If you are on the lookout for something quirky like old bollywood movie posters or vinyl records, or if you are in the mood for some antiques or even if you want to restore your grandfather’s car, then Chor Bazaar is the place for you.
- Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat- Mahalaxmi is a place in Mumbai and a dhobi ghat is where washermen/women wash clothes, but when the two meet they produce a place like no other. Immortalised in many a movie, Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. and Dhobi Ghat being some of the recent ones, this ghat is the place where the dirty laundry of Mumbai is washed in public quite literally. On a daily basis you will find hundreds of washers hard at work wringing and beating clothes into submission, lined around water troughs. The rows upon rows of laundry set out in the sun provides for a unique photo op. You could even get some of the washers to pose with you. Thus if you are in the mood for something really offbeat then this is the place to visit.
- Dabbawalas at Churchgate Station- If you want to see the world famous dabbawalas of Mumbai at work head out to the the Churchgate station and see them in action. The dabbawalas are a true marvel of modern India. These semi literate group of people who work tirelessly to ensure food reaches the right person at the right time before lunch hour every day boast of an error rate of 1 per 6 million delivery and this has earned them the coveted six-sigma certification, though they are not happy about the fact that they make even a single error. The dabbawalas have been the subject of studies not only in the IIMs of our country but even in Harvard University. The dabbawalas take pride in never missing a delivery as they take delivering food as their holy duty. Come rain or high water a dabbawala is always at work. So take your time and meet these real life heroes who keep Mumbai’s office goers fed.
- Dharavi- As mentioned before Dharavi is the biggest slum in Asia. However whenever we say the word slum it conjures up an image of decrepitude and poverty, but in this case that does not hold true. Calling Dharavi a city within a city is no exaggeration, the place has a booming economy with a turnover in the range of thousands of crores of rupees. This slum is home to a number of millionaires. Dharavi has all the amenities it needs amongst its slums and can be safely called self sufficient. To see the vibrant and colourful life of Dharavi in a unique experience that everyone should savour at least once.
Till now we have only spoken about Mumbai and how great it is, but the state Maharashtra is greater still and has much more to offer. So if you are done exploring the length and breadth of the city and are left wondering what to do next, then fret not, Mumbai is uniquely located and it has a plethora of places within a day’s reach where you can retreat for a day or two, or maybe even longer if you wish to. These places are varied in their locations and the attractions they offer thus you can be sure that even the most demanding traveler will find a place which matches his/her sensibilities.
- Panvel- Panvel is a very popular destination for people looking for a one day trip from Mumbai, so that they can be back by nightfall. Panvel lies in close proximity to Mumbai, situated just 40 kilometres from the outskirts of Mumbai, Panvel has been included in the Mumbai Metropolitan Area. Panvel boasts of many interesting tourist spots such as the Karnala bird sanctuary, this sanctuary contains the Karnala fort, Panvel also has the Bet El synagogue, one of the few Jewish synagogues in the country, and people from all over come to visit it. It is also popular with trekkers and boasts of a few trekking routes, the Gadeshwar Dam is an impressive structure and warrants a visit if you are in the area.
- Karjat- Karjat is another tourist place close to Mumbai, lying about 65 kilometres away from Mumbai. Like Panvel even Karjat falls under the Mumbai Metropolitan area. Karjat is an adrenaline junkie’s delight. It has all sorts of adventure sport facilities such as hiking, trekking, river rafting etc. It should be noted that Karjat is not only about fun and games, it boasts of an internationally renowned biotechnology institute which has been at the forefront of developing hybrid strains of rice. Also major movie studios both domestic and international including heavyweights such as Fox Star Studios and Walt Disney Studios are in the process of setting up their studios here.
- Khandala- Khandala is a name which needs no introduction. People might not know much about the place but it has been ensured by Bollywood that the name shall always remain in the public consciousness. Well for those not in the know, Khandala is an extremely popular hill station located a few miles away from Karjat. It boasts of a beautiful mild weather all year round, access to Khandala is extremely convenient now as the Pune-Mumbai expressway passes right through Khandala. If you imagine Khandala to be a quaint sleepy little town which serves as an escape from the hustle bustle of city life you couldn’t be more wrong. Don’t get me wrong, you could do all that, but Khandala offers so much more in the form of facilities for rock climbing, rappelling and trekking. The rock climbing and trekking routes at the Duke’s Nose or Cobra head mountain as it is also known are extremely demanding and are only to be attempted by professionals.
- Lonavla- Lonavla is the twin brother of Khandala, and since both of them are practically located next to each other; it works out like a two in one offer. If you visit one, it allows you to visit the other without any hassle. Lonavla has beautiful gardens and the beautiful Lonavla lake. It also has a couple of dams called the Valvan dam and the Bhushi dam, these are a must visit for any tourist. Lonavla is also home to the I.N.S. Shivaji which is one of the most important Navy training schools of our country. At some distance from Lonavla is the Lohagad or the Iron Fort which served as the base of operations for Shivaji.
- Alibaug- Alibaug is located at a distance of over 100 kilometres by road from Mumbai; however the trip can be cut short to almost half the distance if you choose to go by boat. Boat services are available from the Gateway of India right from early morning upto late evening. Alibaug has holiday homes of rich and famous people including mega celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan. Alibaug has a number of places of interest and this ensures its popularity as a weekend getaway with the locals and tourists alike. It was home to a thriving Jewish population once and as a remnant from times past it still contains the Maget Avot synagogue. Then there are the beaches in Alibaug, one unique feature of these beaches is the profusion of black sand, which unlike normal sand is quite hard and is difficult to coax into shapes or create sand castles with. For a slice of history you could visit the Alibaug Fort, which was made by Shivaji and was used to wage war on the Abyssinian invaders and the British Empire. In addition to an assortment of beaches you can also visit the Siddheshwar Mandir and the Kanakeshwar Mandir. Both of them are dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Rajmachi Fort- Rajmachi is a small hamlet which is very popular among trekkers. It also contains the Rajmachi Fort, this fort had extreme significance and importance in olden times, as this was a strategic location for the Maratha Empire. Apart from its historical significance, the place is also a nature lover’s delight with its rolling meadows, forests and numerous waterfalls, which make the surrounding look like something out of a picture book.
- Kamshet- Located close to Lonavla and Khandala, this was actually a village which has now turned into a hotbed of adventure sports. This is one of the two most important and famous paragliding spots in the state of Maharashtra, and boasts of a number of flying schools. The flying weather here is extremely dependable, thus it is very rare to return empty handed while going paragliding. There are also quite a few trekking routes available here, though it pales in the adventurous scale when compared to paragliding this is the safest bet for less adventurous souls. Kamshet is also home to the famous Raikar Farm and visitors are encouraged to visit it to learn the workings of a farm. Lodging facilities are also available to those interested for night stays. Milk from the dairy is also sold to tourists and they can even watch the cattle being milked before buying it. Apart from these places, there is an artificial lake called the Vadivale Lake which is a favourite spot for those more inclined towards nature and solitude.
- Revdanda- Located near Alibaug, Revdanda is famous for a host of reasons which are as diverse as they are interesting. One of the main attractions is of course the Revdanda beach, and with its black sand it is a place of striking beauty. Revdanda also gained international prominence when it was found out by Russian historians that the first traveller from Russia who landed in India did so right there at Revdanda. In the early 2000s Russia sent over a delegation of very senior and high level officials and to commemorate the arrival of the first Russian traveller a memorial was raised in the presence of the delegation. Apart from this the Revdanda fort is also located here, and the fort is famed for being the first place from where Saint Francis Xavier, who is the patron saint of some of the leading school and colleges in our country, gave a sermon from after landing in India. It also contains the Bet El synagogue and the Shitala Devi Mandir.
- Pawna Lake- Located at the base of the Pawna Dam, this place is a perfect place for a camping trip. Camping out on the shores of the lake is an once in a lifetime experience, where you can enjoy a bonfire or just stay up late gazing at the infinite sky and the billions of stars dotting it, you could go for a dip in the lake to refresh body and soul or take in the pristine beauty of the place as you enjoy a barbecue meal. There are options galore in this place and for those who are short on cooking skills there are a host of reasonably priced eateries that provide delectable fare for every palate.
- Maval- Maval is a countryside located on the Western Ghats; it lies to the west of Pune. The name literally means where the sun sets but it is guaranteed that a visit to this place shall make even the lowest of spirits rise. With its scenic beauty and abundance of all round greenery it has a calming effect on even the most flustered of souls. There are lodging accommodations available for tourists to allow them to stay and experience the peaceful country life.
- Igatpuri- This is a hill station located in the Western Ghats which falls under the Nashik district of Maharashtra. This is another popular tourist destination and has many points of interest which caters to every taste. Some miles away from the main town, the Kalsubai Peak is located. This is the tallest peak in the Sahyadri mountain range and is one of the top draws for tourists. The Marathas were warriors and this is evidenced by the profusion of forts all throughout Maharashtra, including Igatpuri where there is a famous fort was the Tringalwadi Fort. This fort is built very high up and thus affords a panoramic view of the surrounding areas; this is a very popular destination for trekkers too. In addition to this there is the Arthur lake which is located right in the middle of dense foliage, thus the lake suddenly springs at you when you emerge through the vegetation right at its shores. The place also boasts of a couple of well known temples like the Amruteshwar Temple which is an ancient temple built in the honour of Lord Shiva. How ancient do you say? Well according to records this temple was built over a thousand years ago. In addition to this there is a Ghatanadevi Temple which is dedicated to the patron Goddess of the Western Ghats. The Tringalwadi Fort is located behind this temple. There is also a meditation center in Igatpuri called the Dhamma Giri Meditation Center which offers courses in Buddhist meditation techniques that are over 2 millennia old.
- Kolad- Kolad is a small town located about 120 kilometres away from Mumbai; Kolad is the place to go for tourists on the lookout for some white water rafting experience. The Kundalika River flows through Kolad and every morning the water from the dams located in Kolad are released into the river; this influx of water generates an extremely fast current in the river, which makes it ideal for rafting. Apart from rafting Kolad also provides opportunities for rappelling, mountain climbing, kayaking, paragliding etc. Kolad is also home to the Tala Fort.
- Malshej Ghat- Malshej Ghat is a remote area located in the lap of the majestic Western Ghats; it is a place which boasts of a diverse range of flora and fauna. This place is home to a number of bird species including flamingoes and cuckoos which makes it a bird lover’s paradise. Apart from a number of waterfalls that only further accentuate its beauty, Malshej Ghat also boasts of a number of trekking trails. The birthplace of Shivaji the Great is called Shivneri Fort and is not very far from this place.
- Savarkut- This a little known adventure sport destination which is overshadowed by its more famous contemporary Kolad. However this little gem of a location is actually a treasure trove for adrenaline junkies. There is white water rafting in the fast waters of the Vaitarna river, if that is not enough then to get the heart of even the most hardened enthusiast pumping, there is waterfall rappelling and other assorted extreme sports. In addition to this the location of the place in the lap of greenery is another big draw for tourists, but the most redeeming feature of this place has to be the lack of crowds. On account of it being off the beaten track, there are no crowds to speak of and thus you are allowed to take your own sweet time enjoying the sights that this place has to offer.