The 'City of Dreams'
Popularly known as the 'Maximum City', Mumbai, apart from being the capital of Maharashtra, is the commercial capital of India, owing to the infinite services and industries present here. Besides being home to the largest cinema industry in the world, Mumbai, like Kolkata, has its own distinct culture. If you don't believe it, visit the city during festivals like Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri etc. and your doubts shall be dispelled for sure. Be it the majestic charm of the colonial heritage, like the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, or the indigenous beauty of places like Siddhivinayak Mandir, Wankhede Stadium to name a few, Mumbai is one city that never ceases to surprise you. Mumbai is a literal paradise for any foodie, owing to the exquisite range of cuisine, be it the luscious Missal Pav or the lovely Parsi cuisine in some of the heritage cafes. Being the one stop for all the dreams and ambitions in India, Mumbai is aptly called the 'City of Dreams'.
History of Mumbai
The history of the city of Mumbai, or Bombay, began with the signing of the Treaty of Bassein between Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and the Portuguese, who were offered the seven islands that made up Bombay by the Sultan. The islands were initially referred to by several different names, but collectively took the written name of Bombain. The Portuguese built several churches and forts in the city during their reign. With its growing strategic importance as a natural harbour, it attracted repeated British and Dutch interests. In 1661, as part of the royal marriage alliance between Charles II of England and Princess Catherine of Portugal, the islands were given as dowry to the British by the Portuguese. In 1668, the English leased 3 of the islands to the British East India Company, and a few years later, they shifted their capital from Surat to Bombay. Bombay was thus the capital of the Bombay Presidency and quickly gained commercial and military significance. The Portuguese finally left Bombay in the 1730s, following their defeat to the Marathas under Peshwa Baji Rao. Following the Anglo-Maratha war and the signing of some treaties, the British drove out the Marathas and were able to establish their majoritarian supremacy over Bombay. Under the Hornby Vellard project, the islands were unified through significant land reclamation activities into a single landmass. Bombay was extremely active in the political sphere during India’s independence struggle and was part of the Quit India Movement & the Royal Navy Mutiny in the 1940s.
Largest Slum And The Most Expensive Building
Nothing can perhaps be a better yardstick for measuring Mumbai’s diversity and disparity than the fact that the city is home to both Dharavi and Antilia - the former one of the largest slum settlements in the world, and the latter the most expensive residential property of the multi-billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani.
Once a mangrove swamp and a sparsely populated island, Dharavi in Mumbai is now the second largest slum in Asia, and the third largest world in the world. Founded in 1883 during the British rule, Dharavi expanded rapidly due to rural migration and an explosion of factories in Bombay. According to suggested estimates, the population of Dharavi is said to be between 300,000 to 1 million. The citizens are multi-religious and multi-ethnic, who are engaged in various activities ranging from leather, textiles, pottery and even a growing recycling industry. The informal economy of Dharavi is thriving and goods from Dharavi are exported to many parts of the world, and the total annual turnover from the economy is around USD 1 billion. Despite many plans to resettle the population and develop the place, Dharavi still continues to be plagued by low sanitation and hygiene standards.
The extravagantly expensive home of Mukesh Ambani, one of the world’s richest businessmen, is located in South Mumbai. Named Antilia, after the mythical islands of the same name, it is estimated to have a net worth of over USD 1 billion and is second only to the Buckingham Palace as the world’s most expensive residential property. A daily staff of around 600 are reported to maintain the private residence for the Ambani family. Embroiled in controversies over the legality of the land purchase since its inception, its tall architectural design was envisioned by the Chicago-based Perkins and Will, and it continues to attract both dubious criticism and envious wonder by the world.
Financial Capital of India
Following the establishment of Bombay as the capital of the English East India Company in 1687, and after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, there has been no stopping the rapid growth of the city of Bombay or Mumbai. Mumbai is the commercial and financial capital of India and contributes to 6.6% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Initially, the primary contributors to Mumbai’s revenues were the textile mills and the seaport, but following the Indian economy liberalisation in 1991, there has been an increasing growth in finance, IT, engineering as well as gems and stone. Many Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Mumbai, as do important financial institutions like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), among others. Mumbai was ranked the third most expensive office market in the world in 2009, and 7th in Forbes’s list of Top 10 Cities for Billionaires, and the 1st regarding their average wealth in 2008.
Architecture of Mumbai
The city of Mumbai has a richly diverse and delightful palate of architectural styles. The buildings constructed during the colonial period, such as the Victoria Terminus, are built in the Gothic-revival style and have a European blend including German gables, Dutch roofs and Tudor casements. In South Mumbai, there are many offices and buildings of the Soviet style.The famous Gateway of India is constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style, while landmarks along Marine Drive are modelled along the Art-Deco lines. After Miami, Mumbai hosts the most number of constructions in the Art-Deco style. Mumbai is also famous for contemporary and modern architecture and has the most number of skyscrapers in India. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Elephanta Caves of Mumbai are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Nightlife in Mumbai
While a day in Mumbai is evidently abuzz with activities and the hustle and bustle of the crowds, even the nights here are far from quiet. The city that never sleeps witness the nocturnal souls creep out into the night to take on the city; be it to drown the Monday blues or loosen up on a Saturday night. Undoubtedly, the city with the best nightlife in the country.
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