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Top Tourist Attractions in Mumbai With Photos : Instalment Four

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

This is the fourth instalment in the ongoing series on top tourist attractions in Mumbai. As in the previous articles, this one too focuses on places to visit in Mumbai that are close to each other for ease of commuting. From South Mumbai, I will be moving to Central Mumbai and then to West Mumbai. As one heads further up North in Mumbai, these tourist spots become more distanced from one another as the city spreads out in width here.

The other instalments in this series can be read at the links given at the end of the article. I'll start the first of these tourist attractions in Mumbai with something that is unique only to the city of Mumbai, and that is the Mumbai Dabbawalas.

In this article too, I list 10 places to visit in Mumbai. These also to me are amongst the top tourist attractions in Mumbai.

A short movie on the Mumbai Dabbawalas

Mumbai Dabbawalas

In India, Dabba (pronounced as Dubb-aa), simply means a box but in this case, it refers to a lunch box or tiffin box and dabbawalas, (pronounced as dubbaa-va-laa-zzz), refers to people who carry these lunch boxes.

A dabbawala is a person who supplies fresh home-cooked food, collecting it from individual homes and delivering it to the workplaces of those who have subscribed to this service, and delivering empty dabbas for the next day's collection.

The Dabba is a cylindrical tin or aluminium container which holds the actual tiffin box or lunch box. You can see the picture alongside.

This service was started in 1880 (it is about 130 years old) with 100 men to deliver lunchtime food to those at work. The service was registered in 1956 and is currently known as Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association but the people who carry these dabbas are simply called dabbawalas.

There are 2 types of dabbawalas. On group is the collecting dabbawallas and the other group is the local dabbawallas who deliver these dabbas to the workplaces.

The dabbas are collected on bicycles, taken to a sorting place and grouped according to the destination. They are then taken to the railway station and put in coaches that are specially provided for them, for delivery in different suburban areas. The empty dabbas are collected a while later.

One of the distinguishing features of this service is the dress code - White Kurta Pyjamas and the trademark Topi, the White Gandhi Cap. The workforce is mostly illiterate.

There are about 5000 dabbawalas delivering about 400,000 dabbas every day.

The system works most professionally, with clockwork precision, and utmost accuracy, come rain or sunshine. The charges are abysmally low (less than 10$ a month). A survey shows an error of just 1 per 6 million deliveries. The service has been rated a six sigma in the Forbes magazine.

Mumbai Dabbawala

BBC has produced a documentary on the dabbawalas.

When Prince Charles expressed a desire to see their operations, he had to adjust his schedule to theirs, since their time was too precise to allow any flexibility.

The video above is a clip from the BBC video.

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Nehru Science Center

Nehru Science Center or Nehru Center, in short, was started in 1977. The science park was constructed in 1979 and opened to the general public in 1985.

Nehru Centre is India's largest science centre built on 8 acres of land comprising the science park having a variety of plants, trees and shrubs, various exhibits on scientific phenomena etc. The centre imparts knowledge of the principles, marvels and innovations in the field of science and technology to children, students and the layman thus spreading understanding of and awareness about, science and technology.

Over 600,000 people visit the Nehru Centre every year. It is open every day including Sundays right through the year with just 2 holidays in a year on Holi and Diwali. It is open from 10 AM - 6 PM.

A must-see for everyone.

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens is now known as Jijamata Udyan. It was also known as Rani Bagh meaning, Queen's garden. Jijabai was the mother of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire.

Victoria Gardens is a zoo and garden rolled into one, located in Byculla, in Central Mumbai. It is one of the oldest zoos in India and was opened to the public in 1861. It is spread over 52 acres of land.

Victoria Gardens also houses a small museum. As already mentioned in one of my earlier articles in this series on tourist attractions in Mumbai, the statue of the elephant found at Elephanta Caves is located just inside of the main entrance.

The museum was already a part of Victoria Gardens when it was donated to the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai by David Sassoon, a businessman. This property was later developed into a zoo and garden. A clock tower adorns the main entrance to the Victoria Gardens.

The zoo has many rare and protected species of birds and animals. The museum has many valuable collections of Indian art and culture. It also has many old trees and rare species of plants.

Azad Maidan

Azad Maidan was formerly known as Bombay Gymkhana Maidan (Maidan is a sports ground) in South Mumbai.

It is a triangular-shaped ground that is home to interschool cricket matches. There are 22 cricket pitches on this maidan. Public protest meetings and protest rallies are also held on this ground.

It is at Azad Maidan that Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli shared a 664 run record partnership during a Harris Shield school match, in 1987. The record still stands.

Azad Maidan is famous for and derives its current name from the largest ever political meeting for Azadi meaning freedom (of India from the British rule), held in December 1931, by Mahatma Gandhi.

Shivaji Park

Built in 1925, Shivaji Park is the largest ground in Central Mumbai located in Dadar area. It is not a park but a big ground. It is also a historically important landmark due to various political gatherings and meeting that are held here. It is named after the Maratha King, Shivaji. Even the residential area around the ground is commonly called Shivaji Park.

The highlight of Shivaji Park is the small wall or Katta, as it is called in local lingo (a small wall high enough to sit on), that runs around the entire perimeter of the ground. A walkway about 12 feet wide and lined with trees, runs all around this Katta or wall.

In the evenings, on weekends and holidays, one can find people sitting on the wall chit-chatting and the walkway jampacked with people out for a walk. finding a place to sit on the katta.

Shivaji Park is also a favourite ground for budding cricketers. It also houses a gymnasium, the gymkhana club, a children's park, a senior citizen's park, the Scout's Pavilion, a Ganesha temple, the Bengal club and a library.

Around the park buildings from the mid-1900s still abound. The Mayor of Mumbai has his residence in the Shivaji Park area.

Siddhi Vinayak Temple

One of the most famous and venerated temples in Mumbai, the Siddhivinayak temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. It is located at Prabha Devi area in Central Mumbai and is a major landmark of the area. It was built in 1801. Siddhi Vinayak means Lord Ganesh, the fulfiller of wishes.

Siddhi Vinayak started out as a small 10 feet by 10 feet structure as compared to the sprawling 2550 square meters temple complex that is seen today.

Siddhi Vinayak temple is frequented not only by the common man but by politicians and Bollywood stars as well. One can see long queues of devotees and visitors waiting patiently for their turn to pay their obeisance and offerings to the Lord. Tuesday, the ruling day of Lord Ganesha, sees the maximum number of people turning up at the temple.

Siddhi Vinayak temple is probably the richest temple in Mumbai. The construction of Siddhi Vinayak temple was funded by a rich childless woman who wanted to erect a temple for childless women who could come to Lord Ganesha to seek his blessings.

This sea link connects the Western suburbs of Mumbai to Worli in South Mumbai. This - the first phase of the 4 phase project to connect Mumbai city from Versova to Nariman Point - consists of a series of multiple bridges over the Arabian sea to reduce the traffic congestion between the suburbs and the city.

The Bandra - Worli sea link is part of the Western freeway multiple phased projects to connect Nariman Point in South Mumbai to Kandivali in North Mumbai, a total distance of 29 kilometres.

The Bandra - Worli sea link has reduced the travel time from Bandra to Worli by almost 2/3 ie from 60 - 90 minutes earlier to 20 - 30 minutes now. This sea link was opened to the public in June 2009.