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15 Historical Spots To Visit In Mumbai Everyone Should Visit At Least Once

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Mumbai is rich in history that neatly blends with its modern avatar without taking away the heritage value. While a substantial lot move to Mumbai for a livelihood, the city also gets a massive influx of tourists on a daily basis. While they do visit all the popular spots in the city, a lot of them are missed out on. We culled out some of our favourite spots that will not only teach you a whole deal about the city, but also make for some breathtaking photos.

Gateway Of India

This majestic structure was conceptualised in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary. However, they only got to see a cardboard version of the Gateway of India because the construction only started in 1915. Built with a vision to lay a striking first impression, this was once the entry point for all prominent Britishers and continues to be an entry point for incoming ferries even today. 

Ferries for destinations like Elephanta Island and Alibaug depart from here. We suggest you carry the bare minimum of items with you here as the area gets crowded. Also, expect a security check before you can get to the monument. While in Fort, also check out these places - do note operations may be affected by Covid-19.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

Built in 1887 to commemorate 50 years of Queen Victoria adopting the Indo-Saracenic architecture, the station supports both the suburban network and central railways and is a heritage site demarcated by UNESCO. Though one of the busiest stations in terms of passengers, the site also gets frequented by tons of tourists to capture the light play on the face of the building every day.

Oh, and there’s a hidden museum inside the station. For more info, click here.

Asiatic Library/Town Hall

An almost two-century-old building, Asiatic Library has Roman-Greek architecture with eight Doric columns in the portico and the famous flight of 30 stairs. We presume this is what makes this building Bollywood’s favourite spot that often doubles up as a courtroom for all sorts of drama. 

You can even head on inside and check out the public library for yourself. There's a reading room that's open to all, while the member's only Asiatic Library section is truly a bibliophile's dream and has a fantastic research library. 

For more info, click here.

Banganga Tank

Remember that tale about Lord Rama and brother Lakshmana were looking for Sita and the entire hunt left them so parched that Lakshmana struck a bow to the ground and a whole lake emerged? Well, that lake, the Varanasi of Mumbai, is situated in the middle of the posh Malabar Hills and is a place where religious rituals are a routine.

Take your camera with you and get here at sunrise or sunset for the best clicks.

For more info, click here.

Mount Mary Church

Located in Bandra, Mount Mary Church is Roman Catholic Basilica which must be visited on the first Sunday after September 8 for the grand feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But what’s more interesting is the history of this place – a Koli fisherman dreamed that he would find a statue in the sea which is exactly what happened somewhere between 1700-1760 CE. And that’s why both Christians and Kolis visit this church creating a peaceful semblance.

The popular Bandra Fair, an annual fair following the Feast Of The Nativity of Mount Mary on the first Sunday after September 8, is a local experience that's worth checking out if you happen to be in the city.

For more info, click here.

Gilbert Hill

Gilbert Hill is possibly older than time itself; we are talking some 66 million years old. Yes, you read that right. This 200-feet-tall monolith is a result of a massive volcanic eruption and the fun part is that there are only two other such structures in the world, both located in USA. Gilbert Hill houses two Hindu temples on the top which also offer a panoramic view of the city’s skyline.

For more info, click here.

Kanheri Caves

Located in the midst of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Kanheri Caves are a collection of 109 Buddhist caves which dates back to the 1st Century BC. It gets its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Krishnagiri’ meaning black mountain as these caves have been carved from the basaltic rock.

Monsoon is the best time to visit the caves, when the park is awash in greenery and the view from the caves are especially spectacular. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes when visiting the caves, and we suggest you carry insect repellent with you as well. 

For more info, click here.

Haji Ali Dargah

One of the iconic religious monument Mumbai is gifted with - Haji Ali Dargah - is located around 500 yards away from the Mumbai shorelines, right in the middle of the Arabian sea. It's this unique feature which makes the mosque a prestigious landmark and attractions thousands of tourists all round the year. It's not only a mosque but also houses the tomb of a Muslim saint - Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Constructed in 1431, this white-domed structure is a brilliant example of Indo-Islamic and Mughal architecture. 

Rajabai Tower

If you're in the Fort or Churchgate vicinity, there's no way you'll miss this 85-metre tall structure. Tucked between the Bombay High Court and the University of Mumbai, Rajabai Tower is undoubtedly a perfect example of Gothic and French style of architecture. It was designed by an English architect named Sir Gilbert Scott who modelled this tower on the basis of the UK's Ben Tower.  

Did you know the entire cost of construction (which was approx INR 2 lakh) was funded by an Indian businessman and the founder of BSE - Premchand Roychand? In return to the funding, he has only one condition that the tower should be named after his mother Rajabai. As his mother was blind, the clock tower bells helped her know the time without anyone's help. 

If you get peckish around this time, check out these popular eateries for take-away. Please note operations might be affected by Covid-19.

August Kranti Maidan

Known to very few, but this park in South Mumbai has a deep historical significance. It was from this spot that Mahatma Gandhi ordered the British to leave India and thereby launched the Quit India movement. This park was initially called the Gowalia Tank Maidan which was then renamed to August Kranti Maidan. 

Today, this historic playground is split into different parts including a garden for children, walking paths, open ground for football or cricket and also houses a school and computer coaching classes as well. Just a few minutes from the park is the popular museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi - Mani Bhavan.  

If you are looking to shop while here, visit these stores.

Sion Fort

Hidden in plain sight, the Sion Fort is one of Mumbai's well-kept secrets. It's a hillock that's easy to climb and was built in the 17th Century by then Governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier. The British built it to mark the boundary between the British-owned and governed Bombay and the Portuguese-held Salsette Island. Climb up here for beautiful views of the city and get a view that's not the regular sea link or marine drive. There's also a park at the foothill that's worth taking a stroll in.

Pro Tip: Sion Fort and the park is open from morning till noon, and later 4pm onwards.

Read more about it here

Mani Bhavan

The focal point of Mahatma Gandhi's political activities in Mumbai, Mani Bhavan is now a museum and historical building. Owned by a friend of Gandhi's, from 1917 to 1934 Mani Bhavan posed as Gandhi's Mumbai headquarters for 17 years. It's from here that Gandhi initiated the Non-Cooperation Movement, Satyagraha, Swadeshi and even the Khilafat movements. 

IN 1955, the building was taken over by the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi to maintain it as a memorial to Gandhi. Since then a statue of Bapu has been built in the library here. Photographs from Gandhi's childhood, paper clippings and more are dotted along the staircase. The terrace he was arrested on in 1934, also remains. 

Pro Tip: You can tour the museum between 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, entry to the museum is free. 

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue

Located in Mumbai's art district, Kala Ghoda, the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue is a Jewish orthodox synagogue, and the city's second oldest Sephardic synagogue. Built in 1884 by Daish Sassoon's grandson and is maintained by the Jacob Sassoon Trust. The building's significance is attributed to its Jewish traditions and Indian and British influences, as it was built by a British architectural firm. 

The basement of the edifice is built in stone masonry and the superstructure is built in brick masonry. The exterior façade of the synagogue is painted a turquoise blue, which is not its original colour but it's why the building is now popularly called The Blue Synagogue, since its restoration in 2018-19. 

Read more about it here.

Afghan Church

Popularly known as Afghan Church, the Church of St John the Evangelist is an old church in Navy Nagar, Colaba that not many know of. An old British church that was built from 1847 and 1858 to commemorate the dead of the First Afghan War and the disastrous 1842 retreat from Kabul. To begin with it was a small chapel, that was later built as a church. 

Parts of the church is need of urgent restoration, particularly its stained glass windows. But you can spot Butterfield's tiles used for the geometric floor pattern, which were imported from England. And, eight large bells in the bell tower that also came from England and are acknowledged to be the best in western India.

Vasai Fort

Now in ruins, Vasai Fort or Fort Bassein is one site that you mustn't miss. Accessible from Naigaon station, you can visit the fort to admire the 17th century architecture of the Indo-Portuguese era. Vasai (Bassein) was the northern Bombay's headquarters, part of the Salsette island, and it served as an important commercial and military base for the Portuguese, as the fort is surrounded by the sea on three sides. 

Presently, you can explore the grand entrance, a few buildings which still stand and the watch towers which have safe staircases that you can climb. The fort had 3 chapels, ruins of which still stand.