City Spotlight: Mumbai

Mumbai, known as Bombay until 1995, is the capital city of Maharashtra, a central Indian state. It is the most populous city in India with an estimated population (city proper) of 14 million; the greater metropolitan area houses more than 21 million people. In 2008, Mumbai was named an alpha world city, pointing up its developed connectivity and financial status. Furthermore, Mumbai is the financial, commercial, and entertainment capital of India—it deserves your visit.

Mumbai’s culture blends traditional festivals, food, and music with their modern counterparts. The city has always been a major trading center, leading to the development of a diverse range of culture, religion, and cuisine. Visitors enjoy the cosmopolitan lifestyle of this truly global city. However, beaches are also a major attraction; Girgaum Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Dadaw Chowpatty, Forai Beach, Marve Beach, and Manori Beach are popular among both locals and tourists.

Mumbai is also the birthplace of Indian cinema, and the oldest film broadcast took place in the ealry 20th century. Dadasaheb Phalke began making silent movies, which were followed closely by Marathi talkies. The city has several movie theaters that feature Bollywood, Marathi, and Hollywood movies, but many cinemas host screenings during the Mumbai International Film Festival. In addition to film, the city is well-known for contemporary art, public sculpture, and their world-renowned zoo.

Traveling to Mumbai is very easy. The city offers several forms of transportation, including the Mumbai Monorail (opened 2014). Suburban railway and BEST bus services account for around 88% of the passenger traffic, but rickshaws and taxis are also popular.

City Spotlight: Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital and largest city in the state of Rajasthan, situated in Western India. The city’s population well exceeds 3.1 million, making it the tenth most populous city in the country. Colloquially, this metropolis is known as the Pink City for its gorgeously-colored buildings. Jaipur forms part of the west Gold Triangle tourist circuit (along with Agra), making it a vivacious, easily-accessible Indian destination. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, serving as a gateway to additional destinations within Rajasthan.

Jaipur is home to several important cultural sites. The Hawa Mahal is a pink sandstone palace known colloquially as “Palace of the Winds.” Similarly, the City Palace is a lavish, pink 1700s structure that includes both a main complex and a museum—perfect for tourists. History lovers will delight in the city’s many historic buildings; Amer Fort, a structure sitting atop a hill overlooking the city, was built in the 16th century. With a felicitous combination of royal heritage, ancient history, and an ultra-modern lifestyle, Jaipur is a great representation of urban Indian life.

While in Jaipur, visit the best-known cinema in India: The Raj Mandir Cinema. Opened in 1976, this large, art deco-inspired structure is one of the best places in the country to catch a Bollywood film. The spacious theater has comfortable seats, and the hundreds of moviegoers will make you feel like you’re attending a premier—regardless of the film, day, or time. When you’re done, walk over to Ml Road, which hosts some of the city’s best lassi shops.

Jaipur is located on National Highway No.8, which connects Delhi and Mumbai. Additionally, RSRTC operates bus services to other major cities in Rajasthan, making Jaipur an easily accessible destination when put into a larger Indian tour.