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Maharajas' Express Train Mumbai Tour

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History

Mumbai, the city that never sleeps! Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, Fun - this is Mumbai or as it is still frequently referred to - Bombay. The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernisation. Once a cluster of seven islands, Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal.

History - A Glorious Heritage

The Hindu Rule

Originally, the seven islands were a part of the kingdom of Ashoka. After Ashoka's demise, countless rulers of the Silahara dynasty took over until the Kingdom of Gujarat annexed the islands in 1343 AD and remained such till 1543 AD.

Portuguese Colonization

In 1543 AD, the Portuguese seized the isles from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and they remained in their control until 1661. Following this period, the isles were ceded as dowry to Catherine de Braganza when she married Charles II of England. He, in turn, leased the isles to the East India Company during their colonization in 1668 and that's when the city was named Bombay. In a matter of seven years, the population of the city rose from a mere 10,000 to 60,000 in 1675. After the population in the city began to grow, the East India Company officially transferred their headquarters from Surat to the new city called Bombay.

Post-Independence

Mumbai is the business capital of India and is also one on the largest cities in the country. The present population of Mumbai is estimated to be millions and is still growing. Not many know however, how the population grew or how the city got its status as the commercial capital of India. The insight into the history of this glorious city is the answer to its inspiriting beginnings and eminence around the world.

Places
Chhatrapati shivaji terminus (victoria terminus)

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the westernmost end point of the Central Railways of India. It is also the southern end point of the central and harbour lines of Mumbai's metropolitan rail transport system. A large section of the building is given over to administrative functions of the Central Railways, including commercial operations such as railway reservations. A magnificent building, completed in 1888, the Victoria Terminus was named after the then Queen Empress (Queen Victoria) on Jubilee Day, 1887. Construction started in 1878 based on a design by F. W. Stevens, and took 10 years to complete. The cost of construction was Rs. 16.14 lakhs (Rs. 1.614 million). The railway station was opened to the public on New Year's Day, 1882. It is now the starting point of the Central Railways.

The south-western part of the building is topped by a dome holding up a statue of Progress. It is an early example of a uniquely Bombay style of architecture which emerged when British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms.

When the building was first used it held not only railway functionaries such as the accounts, chief engineer and traffic manager but also other municipal offices such as the superintendent of the police. Curiously, railway tickets were also printed in the same building.

The Victoria Terminus was renamed Chhatrapati Sivaji Terminus on March 4, 1996. It was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 2, 2004. It is the first functional administrative building to be put on this list. Unfortunately, some of the lovely carvings are at such an awkward height that you can only get a close view from the top deck of a passing double-decker bus.

Flora fountain and the gothic/victorian buildings of the fort area

The Flora Fountain stands on the site of the old church gate of the Bombay Fort, now a major crossroad named Hutatma Chowk. It was erected to honour Sir Bartle Frere, a former governor of Bombay and named after the Greek goddess Flora. Other buildings to see in the Fountain or Fort area are the University of Mumbai buildings including the imposing Rajabhai Tower, the Mumbai High Court, the Old Secretariat, and the Institute of Science on one end. Close by are situated St Thomas Cathedral, the Asiatic Society of Bombay or Town Hall, the Office of the Director General of Police, the General Post Office and the Thomas Cook building.

The Western Railway Headquarters is also quite near, across the street from the Churchgate Station. These buildings are fine examples of the Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style. Many are illuminated by night. An exotic way of seeing these sights would be by the MTDC open-air bus or by the few surviving Victorias or buggy rides.

Gateway of india

Mumbai's most striking monument, this too was designed by George Wittet. It has an imposing gateway arch in the Indo-Saracenic style with Gujarati and Islamic elements such as wooden carvings. It was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911. This area is also the departing point for ferries plying to Elephanta Island and other beaches across the port. Behind it is the beautiful heritage structure of the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Global vipassana pagoda

Global Vipassana Pagoda is the World's Largest Pillar-less dome with a capacity to seat 8,000 meditators. In it are also enshrined Buddha's genuine relics, thus becoming the first such pagoda in India after King Ashoka's era. In a beautiful and natural setting, surrounded by sea on three sides and atop a hillock, this architectural marvel announces the renewed possibility of learning Vipassana meditation once again, in the same pure and effective form as Buddha taught it 2,600 years ago.The Pagoda radiates peace and harmony and encourages one and all to learn Vipassana to transform oneself into a peaceful,powerful and pure person , based on the experience of millions around the world. It is decorated with Burmese facade to show gratitude to the Burmese Master Ven Sayagyi U Ba Khin who inspired Vipassana revival in the world. Only a world that has peaceful individuals can be a peaceful place, is the Vipassana Pagoda's message to the world.

Haji ali shrine

Further along the seashore, at the end of a long pathway surrounded by seawater is the shrine dedicated to Haji Ali, a Muslim saint. Access is only at low tide via the pathway.

Malabar hill

This is essentially an up-market residential area with some spectacular views of the city surroundings. On the road climbing up, is a Jain temple dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. At one end, on the top are the Hanging Gardens (Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens) and the Kamala Nehru Park. Both provide relaxing atmospheres of greenery. Beside the Hanging Gardens are the Parsi Towers of Silence. But these are off-limits to all except those who have come to dispose and pay respect to the dead.

Mani bhavan

This simple and charming museum was where Mahatma Gandhi lived on his visits to Mumbai between 1917 and 1934. Gandhi's room and belongings including his books are on display. Mani Bhavan is situated on Laburnam Road, near the August Kranti Maidan, where the 'Quit India' movement was launched in 1942. Open daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm.

Marine drive and chowpatty beach

Chowpatty Beach is a teeming mass of people, vendors, masseurs and roadside restaurants with its specialties being bhelpuri and kulfi. Across the Chowpatty Beach area is the Taraporewala Aquarium. Marine Drive is also referred to as the Queen's Necklace because of the dramatic line of street lamps lit up at night. For the most part, a pleasant promenade continues along the beach.

National gallery of modern art (ngma)

This is the former Cowasji Jehangir Hall, of the Institute of Science. It has been renovated to serve as a four-storey exhibition hall, displaying the best of Indian contemporary art. Open daily except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Prince of wales museum

This is one of Mumbai's finest example of Victorian architecture. Built to commemorate King George V's visit to Mumbai (while still Prince of Wales), it was designed by George Wittet and completed in 1923. It is undoubtedly one of India's finest museums and houses treasures, artefacts, paintings and sculpture from the many periods covering India's history, including the Indus Valley Civilization. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30 am to 6 pm.

Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd

(A Govt. of India Enterprise)
B-148, 11th Floor, Statesman House, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, Delhi 110001
Companion-Pays-50

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