Come and live out all your Bollywood fantasies in Mumbai.  Formerly known as Bombay, the city is home to India’s most prolific film industry as well as being a financial powerhouse, and the fashion epicentre of India. If you want to learn more about Bollywood, then it’s easy to book a tour package where you can get a behind the scenes glimpse of Bollywood film-making. Many take you onto a movie set to witness filming. However, among the glitz and glamour, Mumbai is also a pulse point of religious tension. In fact, it is full of contradictions. You are bound to spot dreamers and hard-labourers, as well as starlets and gangsters, stray dogs and exotic birds, servants and millionaires. It has some of Asia’s biggest slums as well as the world’s most expensive homes and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone.  Mumbai’s most famous landmark is the Taj Mahal Palace. This stunning hotel is a fairy-tale blend of Islamic and Renaissance styles, and India’s second-most photographed monument. It was built in 1903 by the Parsi industrialist JN Tata, supposedly after he was refused entry to nearby European hotels on account of being ‘a native’. Dozens were killed inside the hotel when it was targeted during the 2008 terrorist attacks, and images of its burning facade were beamed worldwide. The fully restored hotel reopened on Independence Day 2010. You are also bound to visit Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during your travels. This monumental train station is the city’s most extravagant Gothic building and an aphorism for colonial-era India. It’s a meringue of Victorian, Hindu and Islamic styles whipped into an imposing structure of domes, turrets, spires and stained glass. Be sure to also visit Elephanta Island, which sits on Mumbai Harbour. The labyrinth of cave temples represent some of India’s most impressive temple carving. Its rock-cut temples were created between AD 450 and 750 and are now a Unesco World Heritage Site. You can also escape the crowds with a trip to Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It’s hard to believe that within an hour and half of the teeming metropolis, you can be surrounded by this 104-sq-km protected tropical forest. Here, bright flora, birds, butterflies and elusive wild leopards replace pollution and concrete, all surrounded by forested hills on the city’s northern edge. Urban development has muscled in on the fringes of the park, but the heart of the park is very peaceful.

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