Mumbai, earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city in India, has India’s most prolific film industry (Bollywood) and some of Asia’s biggest slums. It was originally a conglomeration of seven islands which over time were joined to form the island city of Mumbai. The city had an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million in 2005 which makes it one of the world’s most populous cities.
Funfact: if you want to score a rich man in India, Mumbai is probably the place to be. Mumbai has the highest number of billionaires and millionaires among all cities.
The easiest and fastest way to get from Varanasi to Mumbai would be by plane. But we thought it was a bit to expensive and since we really don’t mind long train rides, we decided to go by train. This should take around 26 hours. The distance is 1.500 kilometer and our train was scheduled to leave around 4 pm. When we arrived at the station, we saw it was delayed and would leave at 7 pm. Than it got delayed to 8 pm, make it 9 pm, did we say 9? Make it 10.15 pm, and eventually the train left at 12.30 am.
Cost for this 2AC trainride were 3.000 Rupees p.p. and the 2AC is pretty comfortabel. There are two beds above each other and they provide a pillow and blankets and theres a curtain that gives your cabine a bit of privacy. You don't get all of these when traveling sleeper class. Make sure, in both cases, to take your sweater and long pants because it can get really cold at night! We brought some snacks but this isn't necessary as they come by and sell food in the train.
During the trip, the train had some extra delay and our 26 hour trip ended up taking us 40 hours before arriving in Mumbai at Dadar Station. Here we took the local train to Adheri Station (10 Rupees p.p.) and from there is was only a short 1 kilometer walk to our hotel.
Tip: We found out theres an excellent wifi connection at the Varanasi station. You do need an Indian simcard to connect. They also provide waitrooms. Go up with the escalator and turn right. Mumbai station offers free wifi as well.
We slept at Hotel Aureole and truly loved this place! It’s a bit of the beaten track but that made it even more special to us. It places you right in the middle of an Indian neighborhood but is really nice and quiet. The property is surrounded by lots of trees and therefor you don’t feel like being in the biggest city in the world when you watch out window. When going up to the rooftop you’ll find yourself a nice refreshing pool, which is great after a day of strolling the Mumbai streets, and you have a great view overlooking the city.
The rooms are the prettiest rooms we’ve seen so far. Each floor has a a different theme and we stayed in the room with a hammock. We did not sleep in in it because our bed was to comfortable. The thing we liked best was that the room wasn’t big, but felt really open. The shower was amazing (we learned it is possible to have and a strong shower, and have hot water at the same time). And we really appreciated the bathtub to soak off all the dirt and sweat.
We did not eat anywhere else. The hotel restaurant is really good. It’s vegetarian and even though we really love to eat meat, we didn’t miss it here. Their food is delicious, and the restaurant has a nice atmosphere. And what’s important to us, they charge fair prices. We definitely recommend staying here when going to Mumbai.
** You can find them on booking.com
After spending 1 month in the North, where we visited lots of cities and walked for miles and miles, we were a bit exhausted when we arrived in Mumbai. We maybe didn’t do as much as we planned, but we did like the things we did. One of the things we thought was the most interesting, was taking the train. We heard the stories about overcrowded trains where people stand on rooftops and hang out of the open doors. Well, we saw it in Mumbai. And it was quite hilarious to see people getting on and off the trains. Things we don’t see happening back home. We also learned that there are special carriages for women only and also for disabled people. We already wondered why the carriage we got in wasn’t that crowded and why so many people where talking in sign language..
We used the train to get to some of Mumbais highlights such as the Dhobi Ghat. This is one big laundry ‘machine’. Seeing it from a distance, all you see is laundry drying in the sun. But behind and underneath, there are dozens of small houses, rooms where people are ironing or folding the clothes, washing machines, water puddles where the hand washing is done, little fires to get warm warm water for the washing, kids and dogs playing and walking around, men taking nap and old women that are sewing. They say it’s the place where all Mumbais laundry gets done. That’s probably not completely true but they do a big part of it.
We also did a walking tour on our own though the city, which was pretty nice actually. Mumbai has some interesting buildings. Starting at the Victoria Terminal Railway Station, we walked passed a park called Oval Maidan where people where playing cricket. We saw The University of Bombay and The Bombay High Court which both are very nice to see, and saw The Prince of Wales Museum (from the outside) and finally ended up at The Gateway of India which is 26 meters high. We strolled through the Colaba area which is famous for its kebab (it was to early for that) and souvenir shopping (still holding on to our cash money as much as possible so no shopping) and than slowly walked back to the train station.