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Mumbai Travel Guide:

Introduction
Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fifth most populous city in the world, with a population of approximately 12.5 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. As of 2009, Mumbai was named an Alpha world city. Mumbai is also the richest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia.

The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands came under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Mumbai was reshaped by the British with large-scale civil engineering projects, and emerged as a significant trading town. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century. It became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century. When India became independent in 1947, the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as capital. It was renamed Mumbai in 1995.

Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India, generating 5% of India's GDP and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 70% of maritime trade in India (Mumbai Port Trust & JNPT) and 70% of capital transactions to India's economy Mumbai is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the corporate headquarters of numerous Indian companies and multinational corporations. It houses India's premier nuclear institutes like BARC, NPCL, IREL, TIFR, AERB, AECI, and the Department of Atomic Energy. The city also houses India's Hindi (Bollywood) and Marathi film and television industry. Mumbai's business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India and, in turn, make the city a potpourri of many communities and cultures.

History
Mumbai is built on what was once an archipelago of seven islands: Bombay Island, Parel, Mazagaon, Mahim, Colaba, Worli, and Old Woman's Island (also known as Little Colaba). Pleistocene sediments found along the coastal areas around Kandivali in northern Mumbai by archaeologist Todd in 1939 suggest that these islands were inhabited since the Stone Age. It is not exactly known when these islands were first inhabited. Perhaps at the beginning of the Common era (2000 years ago), or even possibly earlier, they came to be occupied by the Koli fishing community.

In the third century BCE, the islands formed part of the Maurya Empire, during its expansion in the south, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. The Kanheri Caves in Borivali were excavated in the mid-third century BCE and served as an important centre of Buddhism in Western India during ancient Times. The city then was known as Heptanesia (Ancient Greek: A Cluster of Seven Islands) to the Greek geographer Ptolemy in 150 CE.

Between the second century BCE and ninth century CE, the islands came under the control of successive indigenous dynasties: Satavahanas, Western Kshatrapas, Abhiras, Vakatakas, Kalachuris, Konkan Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, before being ruled by the Silhara dynasty from 810 to 1260. Some of the oldest edifices in the city built during this period are, Jogeshwari Caves (between 520 to 525), Elephanta Caves (between the sixth to seventh century), Walkeshwar Temple (10th century), and Banganga Tank (12th century).

King Bhimdev founded his kingdom in the region in the late 13th century, and established his capital in Mahikawati (present day Mahim). The Pathare Prabhus, one of the earliest known settlers of the city, were brought to Mahikawati from Saurashtra in Gujarat around 1298 by Bhimdev. The Delhi Sultanate annexed the islands in 1347–48, and controlled it till 1407. During this time, the islands were administered by the Muslim Governors of Gujarat, who were appointed by the Delhi Sultanate.
The Haji Ali Dargah was built in 1431, when Mumbai was under the rule of the Gujarat Sultanate

The islands were later governed by the independent Gujarat Sultanate, which was established in 1407. The Sultanate's patronage led to the construction of many mosques, prominent being the Haji Ali Dargah in Worli, built in honour of the Muslim saint Haji Ali in 1431. From 1429 to 1431, the islands were a source of contention between the Gujarat Sultanate and the Bahamani Sultanate of Deccan. In 1493, Bahadur Khan Gilani of the Bahamani Sultanate attempted to conquer the islands, but was defeated.

Geography
Mumbai consists of two distinct regions: Mumbai City district and Mumbai Suburban district, which form two separate revenue districts of Maharashtra. The city district region is also commonly referred to as the Island City or South Mumbai. The total area of Mumbai is 603.4 km2 (233 sq mi). Of this, the island city spans 67.79 km2 (26 sq mi), while the suburban district spans 370 km2 (143 sq mi), together accounting for 437.71 km2 (169 sq mi) under the administration of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The remaining area belongs to Defence, Mumbai Port Trust, Atomic Energy Commission and Borivali National Park, which are out of the jurisdiction of the BMC.

Mumbai lies at the mouth of the Ulhas River on the western coast of India, in the coastal region known as the Konkan. It sits on Salsette Island, partially shared with the Thane district. Mumbai is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west. Many parts of the city lie just above sea level, with elevations ranging from 10 m (33 ft) to 15 m (49 ft); the city has an average elevation of 14 m (46 ft). Northern Mumbai (Salsette) is hilly, and the highest point in the city is 450 m (1,476 ft) at Salsette in the Powai-Kanheri ranges. Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali National Park) is located partly in the Mumbai suburban district, and partly in the Thane district, and it extends over an area of 103.09 km2 (39.80 sq mi).

Politics
Mumbai has been a traditional stronghold and birthplace of the Indian National Congress, also known as the Congress Party. The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in Bombay from 28–31 December 1885.The city played host to the Indian National Congress six times during its first 50 years, and became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the 20th century.

The 1960s saw the rise of regionalist politics in Bombay, with the formation of the Shiv Sena on 19 June 1966, out of a feeling of resentment about the relative marginalisation of the native Marathi people in Bombay. The party headed a campaign to expel South Indian and North Indian migrants by force. The Congress had dominated the politics of Bombay from independence until the early 1980s, when the Shiv Sena won the 1985 Bombay municipal corporation elections.

In 1989, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a major national political party, forged an electoral alliance with the Shiv Sena to dislodge the Congress in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections. In 1999, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) separated from the Congress, but later allied with the Congress, to form a joint venture known as the Democratic Front.Currently, other parties such as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and several independent candidates also contest elections in the city.

In the Indian national elections held every five years, Mumbai is represented by six parliamentary constituencies: Mumbai North, Mumbai North West, Mumbai North East, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai South Central, and Mumbai South. A Member of Parliament (MP) to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, is elected from each of the parliamentary constituencies. In the 2009 national elections, out of the six parliamentary constituencies, five were won by the Congress, and one by the NCP. In the Maharashtra state assembly elections held every five years, Mumbai is represented by 36 assembly constituencies.

A Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) is elected from each of the assembly constituencies. In the 2009 state assembly elections, out of the 36 assembly constituencies, 17 were won by the Congress, 6 by the MNS, 5 by the BJP, 4 by the Shiv Sena, 3 by the NCP and 1 by SP. Elections are also held every five years to elect corporators to power in the BMC.

Public transport
Public transport systems in Mumbai include the Mumbai Suburban Railway, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, black and yellow metered taxis, auto rickshaws and ferries. Suburban railway and BEST bus services together accounted for about 88% of the passenger traffic in 2008. Auto rickshaws are allowed to operate only in the suburban areas of Mumbai, while taxis are allowed to operate throughout Mumbai, but generally operate in South Mumbai.

Taxis and rickshaws in Mumbai are required by law to run on compressed natural gas, and are a convenient, economical, and easily available means of transport. Mumbai had about 1.53 million vehicles in 2008, 56,459 black and yellow taxis, and 102,224 auto rickshaws, as of 2005.

Airport
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (formerly Sahar International Airport) is the main aviation hub in the city and the busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic. In 2007, it catered to over 25 million passengers. An upgrade plan initiated in 2006, targeted at increasing the capacity of the airport to handle up to 40 million passengers annually by 2010, is expected to be completed on time.

The proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport to be built in the Kopra-Panvel area has been sanctioned by the Indian Government and will help relieve the increasing traffic burden on the existing airport.

The Juhu Aerodrome was India's first airport, and now hosts a flying club and a heliport.

Education
Schools in Mumbai are either "municipal schools" (run by the BMC) or private schools (run by trusts or individuals), which in some cases receive financial aid from the government. The schools are affiliated either with the Maharashtra State Board (MSBSHSE), The all-India Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) or the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) boards. Marathi or English is the usual language of instruction. The government run public schools lack many facilities, but are the only option for poorer residents who cannot afford the more expensive private schools.

Under the 10+2+3/4 plan, students complete ten years of schooling and then enroll for two years in Junior College, where they select one of three streams: arts, commerce, or science. This is followed by either a general degree course in a chosen field of study, or a professional degree course, such as law, engineering and medicine. Most colleges in the city are affiliated with the University of Mumbai, one of the largest universities in the world in terms of the number of graduates.

Sports
Cricket is the most popular sport in the city. Due to a shortage of grounds, various modified versions (generally referred to as gully cricket) are played everywhere. Mumbai is also home to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Indian Premier League (IPL). The Mumbai cricket team represents the city in the Ranji Trophy and has won 39 titles, the most by any team. The city is also represented by the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

The city has two international cricket grounds, the Wankhede Stadium and the Brabourne Stadium. The first cricket test match in India was played in Mumbai at Bombay Gymkhana. The biggest cricketing event to be staged in the city so far is the final of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup which was played at the Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai and London are the only two cities to have hosted both a World Cup final and the final of an ICC Champions Trophy which was played at the Brabourne Stadium in 2006. Eminent cricketers from Mumbai include Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar.

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