11 Must-Visit Historical Places to Visit in and Around Mumbai

Mumbai is often referred to as the City of Dreams, rightfully so, as it provides a handful of opportunities to those who seek them. It is the city that never sleeps because every day and night, crores of people travel back and forth the city’s crevices to turn their dreams into reality. Formally recognized as the financial capital of India, Mumbai’s hard-working crowds and business empires are considered to be India’s bright future. Success, progress, and development are terms that are attached to Mumbai’s description as a city.

1. Victoria Terminus (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus)
Victoria Terminus (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus)

While progressive development and growth constitute important facets of Mumbai’s character, the city’s past and iconic history continue to live on through its monuments and historical landmarks. Largely adorned by Gothic Victorian architecture that serves as a stark reminder of its colonial past, the city is also host to ancient caves, churches, mosques, and even Buddhist temples. If you are a history enthusiast, then the following are places you must visit if you are in Bombay!

1. Elephanta Caves

Elephanta Caves

Situated on a small island off the coast of Bombay, Elephanta caves are perhaps one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. These rock-cut caves pay homage to Lord Shiva. The caves were built in the 6th century AD, but continue to stand strong. The main cave consists of the three faces of Shiva and several pillars with intricate rock-cut carvings on them. There is also a small Garbhagriha in one of the caves that are dedicated to female deities. The architecture and carving of the caves is a distinguishing artistic development in the field of art history. They can be visited by ferry.

2. Victoria Terminus (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus)

1. Victoria Terminus (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus)
Victoria Terminus (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus)

Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Victoria Terminus, now renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, was built by the British imperialists in the late 19th century. A large part of the construction is inspired by traditional Gothic Victorian architecture combined with the Indian style of craftsmanship. Located in Fort, the structure is punctuated with large domes, tall pillars, and arches. The terminus is one of the biggest stations situated in Mumbai and remains in use even today. While certain structural changes have been made to the architecture, the site retains a large part of the old Gothic design. Buildings built in this style and maintained neatly are rarely seen in any part of the world.

3. Prince of Wales Museum

Prince of Wales Museum (Image by Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons)

Formally inaugurated in 1922, the Prince of Wales museum was originally used as a hospital during the First World War. Renamed as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in 1998, this structure retains most of its original architecture. The architectural style is referred to as Indi-Saracenic that is quite similar to the Indo-Gothic style described earlier. The structure has lush gardens surrounding it and a dome built in the Mughal style. The museum houses a huge collection of artworks, artefacts, costumes, sculptures, and objects which are sorted under three separate sections and collected from countries such as Tibet, Nepal, and India. Amongst its collection are a number of miniature paintings that are noteworthy of mention. It is also located in the Fort Area, more specifically in Kala Ghoda, and remains functional.

4. Gateway of India

Gateway of India (Image by Jawahar Soneji via Wikimedia Commons)

Located at the tip of Mumbai, overseeing the Arabian sea, stands the Gateway of India. This monument was built to mark King George V and Queen Mary’s official sojourn at Bombay. The monument was designed by George Wittet in 1914 and was open to the public in 1924. In tandem with a lot of British structures built in colonies, this one too was inspired by Victorian Gothic ideals. The structure was representative of the enormity and splendour of the British Raj in one of its biggest colonies. The structure is 83 feet in height, and steps at the rear end of the structure lead one to the banks of the Arabian ocean. Today, the monument attracts numerous local and foreign tourists and is a hotspot for small souvenir shops. At night, the building is lit up in colourful lights.

5. Asiatic Library

Asiatic Library, Mumbai (Image by AKS.9955 via Wikimedia Commons)

While the Asiatic Society was founded in 1804, the building was constructed much later, in 1833. Situated in the Kala Ghoda area, the Asiatic library has a white facade with a big staircase leading up to its entrance. Its architectural style is quite different from the Victorian-Gothic design that most British buildings of this era were built in. Its design was conceived by the Bombay Engineers group and is heavily inspired by neoclassical architecture. The Asiatic Library is a storehouse of ancient books, manuscripts, periodicals, coins, and maps. It stores the original Italian script of Dante’s Divine Comedy and a 16th century manuscript of the Mahabharata in Sanskrit. Amongst the artefacts, one can find parts of Buddha’s alms-bowl and other prized Buddhist possessions as well.

6. Flora Fountain