India’s premier metropolis is a city of stark contrasts, modern towers of steel and glass stand next to stately stone edifices from the days of the Raj. Automobiles race down the crowded streets and everywhere one confronts the paradox of India. The commercial capital of the subcontinent, a large percentage of Mumbai’s population lives in hutments without running water or electricity. Yet the fabled “Gateway of India” is a place of haunting beauty, from the marble serenity of the Jain Palace to the Elephanta Caves, where sculptures of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu were carved out of solid rock over a millennia ago.
India’s principal seaport, Bombay is “Mumbai” in Marathi. The Portuguese aquired the city from Bahadur Shah in the 15th century, they called their new possession Bom Baim, “good bay.”