From empire's great gateway to the world's greatest laundry

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The Gateway of India

Built in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V this sandy-coloured Arc de Triomphe was designed as a ceremonial entrance for passengers alighting from P&O steamers from Britain. In the end it became better known as the place where the British troops staged their final exit from India in 1948.

Dabawallahs

The people dressed in Nehru caps and khaki shorts, who run around the Bombay traffic to deliver food in 125,000 tiffin-boxes sent by suburban housewives to their husbands or sons working in downtown Bombay. Not one tiffin-box ever goes astray.

Chowpatty Beach

Don't come here to swim or sunbathe, but to mingle with Bombay at leisure. Entertainments on offer are endless, ranging from camel-rides, snake-charmers and holy men to hair-cuts, massages and ice-cream parlours.

Malabar Hill

Where Bombay's rich have always lived on a promontory overlooking Chowpatty beach. Views, forests and sea-breezes were the original attraction. The main interest now is kissing couples, fast cars and film stars.

Crawford Market

Bombay's central covered market, built by the British and still decorated by gothic towers and Victorian friezes. Fruit, vegetables, spices, nuts, tobaccoes, poultry and pets are all on offer, amid fearful heat and dust.

Elephanta

This island is reached by boat in an hour. Tranquil and wooded, Elephanta is crowned by a cave-temple complex which contains a huge bust of Shiva.

Municipal Dhobi Ghats

This may be the biggest open-air laundry in the world and is a miracle of teamwork. Laundry from the city is soaped and pummelled by rows of dhobiwallahs, then aired and pressed. The view from Mahalaxmi bridge is stupyfying.

Parsis

A substantial community of Zoroastrians who, having fled Persia a thousand years ago to escape religious persecution, retain their ancient faith and language. Parsis dominate the upper echelons of Bombay society.

Victoria Terminus

Perhaps the most extravagant legacy of the British Empire. Built in 1887, its monumental exterior is festooned in stone with figments of the orientalist imagination, while the general structure is a confusion of domes, spires, columns and features from every school of architecture in history - and British touches such as the word "Progress" capping it all.

Jeremy Atiyah

Looking for credit card or current account deals? Search here

Comments