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If you’re forever despairing of mismatched socks, spare a thought for the ‘dobhis’ – or washer men – of the Dobhi Ghats. This is an enormous open-air laundry where the city’s hotel and hospital laundry is washed, bleached and beaten clean before being dried, ironed and returned to their rightful owners. An unlikely sounding tourist attraction, yes, but utterly mesmerising to observe. Watch and learn, good people, watch and learn.
On the other end of the scale you have Marine Drive, a smart, sweeping 3.5km promenade that forms a natural C- shaped bay around the south west of the city. Visit at night – it’s cool enough to walk comfortably among the palm trees, underneath the softly glowing street lamps that give Marine Drive its other name, the ‘Queen’s Necklace’. Seen from above at any point along the drive, it looks like a beautiful string of pearls.
A lot of people like to use Mumbai’s Gateway of India to kick-off their cultural endeavours, as well they might – it’s a 26m tall impressive arch monument that marries Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture to great effect. And here’s something worth knowing: it was built to commemorate King George V and Queen Mary’s visit to India in 1911. It also happens to be handily close to the Taj Mahal hotel (not to be confused with the actual Taj Mahal – that’s in Agra). Colonial-style luxury at every turn and fabulously Instagram-able.
Catch a ferry from the Gateway of India and take in the sights as you head out to Elephanta Island and the Elephanta Caves, about 10km to the east. The Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site of jaw-droppingly impressive cave temples that were carved from solid rock for the Hindu god Shiva, and feature sculptures of Shiva in various forms. There’s walking involved, and climbing – to reach the main cave you have to walk up 120 steep steps from the beach – but it’s so worth the effort.
Add an experience pack to your India holiday to theme it around your interests. Keen to unravel the chaos and see the people who keep this city ticking? Add the 'Authentic' experience pack for a tour of Mumbai at dawn. Head over to the itinerary builder to discover other experiences on offer.
Beloved by locals and visitors to Mumbai alike – the Gateway of India is considered to be Mumbai’s top tourist attractionDiscover more
It’s seems unlikely that a six-lane concrete highway in South Mumbai should have earned its place as one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, but, as the saying goes, it’s a funny old world.Discover more
Elephant Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mumbai Harbour named after the elephant statues that Portuguese settlers found on the island during their early exploration of India.Discover more
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