Haritage Walk and Tours

Mumbai’s Living Heritage – A Melting Pot Of The Old And New.

Mumbai! Famously recalled as the ‘city of dreams’ by some or ‘the city that never sleeps’ by others is home to many natives and non-natives. It is a residence for many aspiring to achieve their goals and for thousands of others who have been here for generations. Surrounded by the sea, this city houses people from different communities, backgrounds, sects, and regions and therefore, is a beautiful amalgamation of different cultures and perceptions.

Mumbai was earlier termed Bombay by Portuguese rulers after finding that it had a natural water bay. Bombay: ‘Bom Bhaia’ simply means ‘good bay. Before the Portuguese colonization, it belonged to Hindu Rule as the seven islands it’s made up of came under the Kingdom of Ashoka the famed Buddist emperor. It is fascinating to know that before becoming a city, Mumbai was an archipelago of seven islands: Isle of Bombay, Colaba, Old Woman’s Island, Mahim, Mazagaon, Parel, and Worli. It is believed that it took about 6 centuries for these islands to merge into this one beautiful city we call Mumbai.

After the Portuguese, it then transferred into the hands of the British Raj when the Portuguese Princess received it as a dowry after marrying an English Prince and was called Bombay for years. It was only two decades ago that Bombay was renamed as ‘Mumbai’ coming from the name of local fishermen’s goddess “Mumba Devi” and the later suffixed with “Ai” meaning mother.

Heritage Tourism & Heritage Walk & Tours

While the formation, history, and rule over Mumbai might amaze a few, some of the most interesting things about this city are its multi-colored culture and rich heritage which is an adaptation of the different reigns it has had. This cosmopolitan city has attracted people from different cities, religions, and even countries since its inception, and hence its culture is a fine blend of varied people, languages, religions, festivals, cuisines, history, arts, clothing, and beyond.

The official language of this city is Marathi and most of the Mumbaikars speak not only Marathi but many other state languages like Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, and Kannada. Not just this, even the national Hindi language is spoken with a touch of Mumbaiya tadka.

Having had different rulers and multilingual communities, Mumbai is one of those glorious cities where every festival is celebrated with complete zeal and zest be it of Indian origin or not. From the massive dholaks and band baajaas for Ganesh Chaturthi and Holi to massive prayers and breaking matkis on Janmashtami to lighting earthen lamps and bursting fire-crackers during Diwali – you will find it all here. It also houses many other festivals of different religions. Be it Parsi New Year for Parsis and Zoroastrians to big Iftar parties during Ramadan & Eid to the Bandra Fest at the Basilica of Mount Mary in September just before Christmas, Bombay or Mumbai has it all and thus is a perfect blend of different cultures from around the world.

Every era that has passed has contributed to Mumbai’s architecture, infrastructure, art, and literature. Take for example the artistic buildings or rich infrastructure of Mumbai dates back to the times of the British Raj or Portuguese rule. Three sea-facing ports, namely Bandra, Worli, and Mahim are not only historic sites but are lined up like a string of pearls along its seafront and are known as the Queen’s necklace. Various buildings like St. Xavier’s, Mantralaya, BMC head office, Elphinstone, Grade I Bandra Station, or the Victoria Terminus station built by Britishers are not only heritage sites for their typical Art Deco architecture but are living and breathing even today as they are used in the present daily.

Bombay Castle, one of the oldest defensive structures in Mumbai built by Portuguese rulers, was earlier known as the Casa de Orta. It was here that the Britishers gained control over Bombay. Currently, this place houses the Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command.

The iconic – Gateway of India was built during the 20th century to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder on their visit to India in 1911. This archway is a venue where Independence Day celebrations and other festivals are vividly celebrated today.

Other places of interest such as the Kala Ghoda, National Centre for Performing Arts, and Ravindra Natya Mandir are used to celebrate different art festivals and many other events which celebrate the nation’s cultures, cuisines, and more.

Heritage Tourism & Heritage Walk & Tours

The caves dotted around Mumbai like the Elephanta Caves, Buddhist Kanheri Caves, Mahakali Caves, Mandapeshwar Caves, and Jogeshwari caves depict rich Hindu & Buddhist culture built with different sculptures which are heritage sites today. Elephanta caves dating back to 2,500 years have been given the prestige of a world heritage site in 1987. Not just this, the cluster of Victorian and Art Ensemble of Mumbai near Oval Maidan was designated as A World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2018. This ensemble consists of 94 public and residential buildings around the Fort precinct of Mumbai. Various organizations and the residents of these buildings have taken the responsibility to maintain these and make them sustainable.

In addition to these, the museums of Mumbai like The Haffkine Institute for Training, Research, and Testing showcase the history of colonial Bombay along with housing scientific discovery, innovation, and learning. Currently, it’s being used to manufacture Covid vaccines.

Built in 1915, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India houses 50,000+ exhibits of India in its prehistoric era to modern times. They aim to create awareness and sensitivity towards our rich heritage for the purposes of education, study and general knowledge. Interestingly, it was used as a Children’s Welfare Centre and a Military Hospital during the First World War.

Talking about Mumbai and its history, culture, and heritage we can never forget that it is the Financial Capital as it has been the port on India’s west coast making it an economic hinge and trade window for the west.

Mumbai also is a city that is all about glamour as it houses popular Bollywood celebrities and sports personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, and Virat Kohli to name a few. Moreover, King Khan’s bungalow Mannat which was previously named Villa Vienna is also one of the popular heritage properties of Mumbai. It is now a famous tourist spot where you will find fans taking selfies or waiting for just a glimpse of their favorite Khan.

Even though Mumbai is a young 300 years old, the rich heritage and culture of Mumbai speak for it loud and strongly. Different rulers, eras, and cultures along with Mumbai’s history are responsible for shaping this monumental maximum city into what it is now. A city where history unknowingly and unabashedly lives in the present and the future.

Heritage Tourism & Heritage Walk & Tours

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