When I asked a cab driver whether to call his city Mumbai or Bombay, he replied, “Bombay! Some crazy Indians made it Mumbai, but it’s Bombay.”    

The Gateway to India, a landmark on Bombay’s waterfront built by the British.

From the mouth of a native. Works for me.

This huge city on the Arabian Sea is India’s New York vs.  Delhi as Washington, DC–the financial and entertainment (Bollywood film industry) hub of India. We were rather jaded and satiated on sightseeing by the time we got there but we took in a few prominent places and also enjoyed some nice walks in interesting areas still boasting Victorian architecture from the days of the British Raj. Two prominent examples are the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Eli on the square of the Gateway to India with our hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace, in the background.

and the Victoria Terminus (railroad station).  We’d made reservations to stay at the famous Taj Mahal Palace at a relatively reasonable rate for the newer Tower section. But, mysteriously, we were upgraded to the top floor of the older but meticulously renovated Palace section, a super treat for our last three nights in Bombay. Our room rivaled our living room in size, and our bath was larger than all two and a half baths we have in San Francisco. The only drawback was remembering the awful 2008 massacres (known in India as 26/11, for November 26, akin to our memory of 9/11) in which guests were slaughtered at this hotel, as well as the Oberoi Hotel and other locations, including the Chabad Center in the city, where the young rabbi and his pregnant wife were among the victims.

The Victoria Terminus is a massive UNESCO World Heritage site. Inside, the crowds make it typically India. 

We also took a boat trip to Elephanta Island, where caves are carved with Hindu god images. This, too, is a UNESCO site, but it’s unkempt with litter, despite warnings to the contrary.  

Not too effective.


At Elephanta Island caves.

In a different vein we visited Manu Bhavan, Mahatma Gandhi’s home in Bombay. In addition to the preserved room where we he worked and lived and exhibits of some photos and personal items, his story is depicted in miniature by dolls.

A window into Gandhi’s life depicted by dolls.

And, after all the Buddhist and Hindu temples of the trip, we finally visited one of ours, the historic Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, where we attended Shabbat evening services and dined afterward with members of the local community. Photos were not permitted on Friday night, but here’s a stock shot of the sanctuary: 

Gandhi’s study and bedroom in Bombay. Our room was nicer.


Rushing to catch trains at Victoria Terminus, Bombay.


Outside Victoria Terminus


Our hotel room ceiling.


View from top floor down at the hotel, Meticulously restored to its original granduer, the Taj Mahal Palace also offers every modern convenience and service. Fantastic!

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