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Mumbai (Bombay) tours and excursions

Mumbai (Bombay) tours

Slum tours

Following the success of Slumdog Millionaire, there has been a growing interest in exploring some of Mumbai's most deprived areas in a socially conscious way. Reality Tours and Travel lead tours through Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums and home to over one million people, offering a chance to meet some of its residents, and gain a glimpse into their way of life. Around 80% of the company's profits are ploughed back into social and educational projects in the slum.

Tel: +91 98208 22253.
Website: http://realitytoursandtravel.com

Bollywood movie tours

Movies are hugely popular in India (second only to cricket), and Mumbai is responsible for the majority of the Hindi-language films made in the country. The centre of the Bollywood movie industry is Film City at Goregaon, where the big film studios are located. The bulk of Bollywood blockbusters involve sugary love stories and action dramas, with awesome choreographed song and dance routines, and you can get a glimpse of the action on a tour with Bollywood Tourism.

Tel: +91 22 4343 8100.
Website: http://www.bollywoodtourism.com

Mumbai (Bombay) excursions

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Located just 40km (25 miles) from Mumbai, and almost surrounded by urban sprawl, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a garden oasis, far removed from the chaos of the city. This expansive reserve is home to dozens of species of birds and butterflies, plus leopards and even a few (rarely seen) tigers. Hidden away inside the park are the remarkable Kanheri Caves, a network of 109 caves carved out of the bedrock by Buddhist monks between the 2nd and 9th centuries. Taxis can be chartered at the station to reach the park.

Tel: +91 22 2886 0362.
Website: http://www.mahaforest.nic.in

Elephanta Caves

A short boat ride from Mumbai, the UNESCO-listed Elephanta Caves (or more correctly, cave temples) were carved into a rocky outcrop on Elephanta Island between AD450 and 750. Despite damage caused by Portuguese soldiers in the colonial period, the chambers are still covered in spectacular sculptures of Hindu deities, including a monumental three-headed statue depicting Shiva as the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. Hour-long boats depart from the Gateway of India every 30 minutes from Tuesday to Sunday 0900-1530. The last departure from Elephanta is at 1700. Tickets can be bought at the Gateway of India.

Website: http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_elephanta.asp

Featured Hotels

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Gordon House Hotel

Each floor has its own theme at this boutique hotel located just behind Apollo Bunder. Decorated in Mediterranean, Scandinavian or country cottage styles, the rooms are charming without being twee, with plenty of modern gadgets and positively 5-star bathrooms. There's also a bar and the popular Poly Esther's nightclub onsite. Light sleepers should avoid rooms adjoining the club.

Traveller's Inn

Set on a leafy road in Fort, Traveller's Inn has just 21 rooms, which are small but clean and excellent value. There are inexpensive dorms and better private rooms, and the staff are friendly and accommodating. There's also free wireless internet access in the lobby. Located close to many good value restaurants.

Hotel Oasis

Rooms are compact but tastefully decorated at this inexpensive 30-room hotel in a handy location in Fort, just a short hop from Victoria Terminus and Horniman Circle. For a reasonable price, you'll get a TV, air-conditioning and an en suite bathroom. There are numerous dining options on the neighbouring streets.

Residency Hotel

The atmosphere in Fort is a bit less frantic and a bit more business-like than in Colaba, and the Residency makes a perfect base from which to explore. Rooms are modern and comfortable and decorated in calming colours, with pictures of historic Mumbai on the walls. There's also a cute little café, where breakfast is served.

Hotel Bawa Continental

A comfortable resort-style hotel along lively Juhu beach, the Bawa Continental offers neat rooms, some with grandstand views over the beach and Arabian Sea. Although a hike from the historic centre, Juhu is much calmer than Fort or Colaba, with plenty of upscale restaurants and bars within walking distance. Rooms have TVs, air-con and Wi-Fi (for a charge), and there's a Starbucks on site.

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

A Mumbai institution since 1903 the Taj has played host to Maharajas and monarchs movie stars and media moguls. Built in striking Indo-Saracenic style this grand hotel was extensively damaged during the 2008 terrorist attacks but an artful renovation has removed all traces of the disaster. For more than a century this has been the epitome of luxury in Mumbai with graceful vaulted ceilings tall archways fine carpets and crystal chandeliers. The Taj also houses some of Mumbai's best restaurants plus luxury shops a nightclub and outdoor pool gym and even its very own fortune teller.