Ae-dil hai mushkil jeena yaha, zara hatke, zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan!
Lovingly called 'Aamchi Mumbai' by its locals, which literally translates to 'Our Mumbai', it is no surprise that the city is home to each and all who step here. And while the city accepts each in its wide embrace, there are plenty who thrive in the city - who know very little about its wonders, beyond the high rise of buildings, the rapidly moving locals and the kaali-peeli traffic. So here we are, with 21 amazing facts about Mumbai, that truly detail why is special, in every sense of the term!
An archipelago of 7 islands
What today stands as the vast Mumbai metropolis was once, just 7 islands namely the Isle of Bombay, Colaba, Old Woman's Island (or Little Colaba), Mahim, Parel, Mazagaon, and Worli. It took over 5 centuries to join these by connecting road to create this city that is synonymous with home for many. You can still find the traces of island structures in the city and even the local fishing communities that thrived here.
Mumbai is India's powerhouse
Mumbai to India is as mitochondria to a cell, a powerhouse that engines it! The city of Mumbai independently shoulders about 1/4th of India's entire industrial output, with 40% control of foreign trade and 33% income tax along with 60% customs collections.
From Bombay to Mumbai, a nomenclature mix
Initially known as Bombay, the city has gone through a nomenclature mix to receive its current name, Mumbai. While Bombay has Portuguese connotations, that come from 'Bom Baim' that meant 'Good Bay', its colloquial name comes from a local deity - the Mumbai Devi.
India's first train started here
While today Mumbai runs on the tracks of its local trains, did you know that the first-ever train in the country hit the tracks here? Yes, the first rail shuttled between Mumbai and Thane, back in 1853! Today, Mumbai has the world's largest and busiest train system that ferries around 2.2 billion passengers every year.
Country's first bus service started in Mumbai
Mumbai has been the epicentre of public travel in the country and incidentally, it is also the first city in the country to introduce a public bus service. On 15th July 1926, the first bus was introduced here, which ran between Afghan Church and Crawford Market.
Horn-okay-please! India's first car owner hailed from Bombay
Sir Jamshetji Tata, the founder of the Tata empire hailed from the Bombay presidency (now in Gujarat) and he was the first person, in 1901, to ever own a car in India.
Runway for the first flight in India
Mumbai led the nation towards the future of aviation in 1928, when India's first aerodrome was built at Juhu. In the same year, the country's first airport, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport was established here. In May 2012, the CSMIA became the first and only Indian Airport to receive the Level 2 accreditation, of the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme under ACI.
The 5-star pioneer
The Taj Hotel, which today stands as a landmark identity on the coat of Mumbai, happens to be the first-ever 5-star hotel in the country! Established in 1903, it was the first hotel in India to be powered by electricity and feature German elevators, Turkish baths, an all-day restaurant and even a discotheque.
'A city within'; Asia's largest slum is in Mumbai
A pool of industrial growth, Dharavi is an urban slum in Mumbai, pegged to be the largest settlement of its kind across Asia. This place has received global recognition with its top feature in the "Travellers' Choice Experiences 2019- India"; a list that includes 'bike tour of Old Delhi' and a 'private day tour of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort by a superfast train'.
The world's most expensive house, Antilia is in Mumbai
The city seems to have it all, from the largest slum to the most expensive house in the world! Owned by business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, the founder-owner of the Reliance Group, Antilia towers as a 27-story high skyscraper in South Bombay. Spread over a land area of 4,00,000 square meters, the mansion is valued at nearly US $1 billion, as the most exorbitant residence across the globe.
Imagica in Mumbai is India's largest theme park
Moving over the love of Disney, Mumbai has its own theme park - Imagica, which is pegged to be the largest of its kind in the country. Located at the Mumbai-Pune Express Highway, the place is abundantly popular with thousands of locals and tourists flocking here, each year.
The marvel of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link
An architectural wonder, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai is ironically the symbol of the city's fast-moving growth and leisure. Connecting Worli in South Bombay to the western suburbs of Bandra, this 5.6-km-long bridge is made of 90,000 tonnes of cement and steel wires that can go around the girth of the earth.
The Mumbai-Pune Rail Line was built by a woman
The world today speaks of equal opportunities for all genders, however, Mumbai gave this platform to a female back in 1863. India's first railway line, along the Mumbai-Pune route, was constructed by Alice Tredwell, an English photographer and railway contractor. Her name has been etched in Indian history as the first woman to step into railway construction.
Mumbai is home to The Jungle Book author, Rudyard Kipling
Our childhood still rings in the tunes of jungle-jungle baat chali hai, enveloping us in a sense of nostalgia but did you know, that the author of The Jungle Book, Sir Rudyard Kipling was born in Mumbai? And not just him, Salman Rushdie, author of Satanic Verses, and contemporary counterparts like Gregory David Roberts, Rohinton Mistry, were also born here.
Mumbai has a 150-km-long coastline
Located on the western coast of India, Mumbai geographically contours a 150-km-long coastline. From Marine Drive in South Bombay up to Aksa Beach in the north, the city is home to a plethora of beaches and vacation spots!
A wonderhouse of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
While Mumbai is an urban centre that grows and evolves every day, it has managed to preserve the golden light of the past in the form of the most spectacular world heritage sites. These include the Elephanta Caves and Island, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and other countless Victorian and Art Deco buildings.
'Mumbai's lungs', the world's largest city park is in Borivali
Known as the 'lungs of Mumbai' the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali, is said to be the world's largest park, located within city limits. The park runs along an area of 102 square kilometres and is home to a protected dense forest, that feature 2,000-year-old Buddhist caves, two large lakes, a local tiger population and much more!
Mumbai modeled the 'Dabbawala' system, a management extraordinaire
A management extraordinaire, Mumbai's Dabbawala system is the city's local tiffin delivery solution that employs over 5000 dabbawalas or tiffin delivery officials, who perform a near-perfect run every day! What stirs wonder here, is the fact that Forbes magazine has awarded this delivery ecosystem its highest rating, Sigma Six- which is usually assigned to global giants like General Electric and Motorola. This award testifies for only one error per one million transactions!
Mumbai's landscape has a 66 million year old hill
Standing as one of the lesser-known facts about the city is Gilbert Hill, which is a 66-million-year-old, 61-meter-high monolithic basalt structure in Andheri. In 1952, this structure was declared a national park by the government and a world heritage site in 2007. The structure has two Hindu temples at the very summit, which hold scenic panoramic views of the city.
The Flamingo fantasy
One may never peg Mumbai as a biodiversity hotspot but breaking every such prejudice, the Sewri and Bhandup regions of the city are habitats to exotic and brightly coloured flamingos. These birds are migratory in nature and can be seen during the colder months of October and March here.
Home to each and all
A city for all dreamers, Mumbai is home to people across the nation, who migrate here to quench their aspirations. Thus, it is no surprise that it stands as the most populous city in India (as per the 2011 census) The city is so densely packed that finding open space here is like finding a needle in a haystack! As per stats, the cramped city has only 1.1 square meters of open space for the people living here.
The face of contrast with a heart of a child and a mind of a 100-year-old, the city of Mumbai is a fast-paced metropolis that slowly brews all your dreams into reality. The home to darkest storms and the sunniest skies, with the necklace of a queen and a pandora of rags, Mumbai is everything that you ever want to be - a city of stars, a city of winners, a city of lovers, but more importantly a city of wonders!