Popular Heritage Structures in Mumbai

Popular Heritage Structures in Mumbai

By Somali K Chakrabarti

Continuing from my last post on the Beaches in Mumbai, here I take you to some of the heritage structures in Mumbai.

Mumbai was once a part of the Gujarat Sultanate in the 14th century, was ceded to the Portuguese in the 16th century. The Portuguese gave away Mumbai (Bombay) as dowry to King Charles II of England, when he married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, in 1661. In 1688, Bombay was ‘sold’ to the British East India Company by King Charles II. Thereafter, Bombay replaced Surat as the headquarters of the Company on the Malabar Coast,

The construction of the first railways in India, marked the British rule in Mumbai, as did the construction of many other grand public buildings of the colonial era. Mumbai has numerous heritage structures; most of these are located in South Mumbai, as historically the access to the city was limited to that area.

Here’s a list of some the most popular heritage structures of Mumbai.

 If you are planning a trip to Mumbai, you may want to cover these during your stay…and don’t you worry about your stay, as you have some good Mumbai hotels for tourists as well.

The Gateway of India

Gateway of India
Gateway of India |Image credit: Wikipedia

Located on the waterfront in Southern Mumbai, the Gateway of India is a must-see feature for any tourist coming to Mumbai. The historic landmark was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary.

The Gateway of India is an 85 ft high arch built with yellow basalt and reinforced concrete, with the design combining elements of Muslim architectural styles of 16th century Gujarat, and Hindu temple architecture.

Sitting on the parapet wall around the Gateway, at a time when it is not very crowded, is in itself a soothing experience.

Elephanta Caves

Famous for its sculpted caves, Elephanta, is an island on the Arabian Sea is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Elephanta Caves
Elephanta Caves

The most popular carving at Elephanta is the triple-headed sculpture of Shiva inside a rock-cut temple on the island. The temple, dedicated to Shiva, was excavated in the mid-6th century. The front face of the triple-headed bust, facing the entrance, is calm and meditative, while the side profiles are fierce in comparison.

Elephanta Island is accessible by ferries plying from the Gateway of India.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus



Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (previously Victoria Terminus) is another UNESCO World Heritage site. The elegant architecture of the building is a fusion of Victorian Gothic and traditional Indian architecture.

Designed by British architect Frederick William Stevens in the late nineteenth century, the station was built in a span of 10 years between 1878 and 1887. It bears a resemblance to the St Pancreas Railway Station in London.

To date, it is one of the busiest stations in the country and reflects the vibrancy of the city.

BMC Headquarters Mumbai

BMC Headquarters Mumbai

Right opposite the CST station is the heritage BMC Headquarter.


Haji Ali Dargah

Haji Ali, Mumbai
Haji Ali, Mumbai

This beautiful ancient white marble mosque and tomb, built on a tiny islet located 500 meters from the coast of Worli, is visited by people of all faiths, who come to seek the blessings of the legendary saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Haji Ali dargah is a fine example of Indo Islamic architecture.


Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum

Chatrapati Shivaji Museum
Chatrapati Shivaji Museum

The Chatrapati Shivaji Museum (previously known as Victoria and Albert Museum) is inspired by its namesake in London. Designed in 1862 by William Tracey, it was constructed in the Palladian style, which is a European style of architecture, derived from the designs of the 16th-century Venetian architect Palladio.

The green lawn in front of the museum is bordered with palm and well maintained. Mementoes are available for purchase in the gift shop in front of the museum. I have always found a visit to the museum a pleasant experience.

Kanheri Caves

Kanheri Caves

Kanheri caves are located in the northern part of Mumbai inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park at Borivali. These caves, dating back from the first century BCE to the 10th century BC, were once Buddhist monasteries. While some of the caves are unadorned, inscriptions and sculptures carved from the basaltic rock cliffs are found inside some of the caves.

What is left of the caves serve as a getaway for picnickers, who go mostly during the rainy season, to see the waterfalls around the hilly terrain of the caves.

Mount Mary Church Bandra

The last is my list is Mount Mary Church, a Roman Catholic Basilica in Bandra, where people of all faiths gather to seek the blessings of Mother Mary. The wooden statue was placed at the present location by Jesuit priests, who had brought it from Portugal in the sixteenth century. They had built a chapel around it, which was destroyed by the pirates in 1700 and rebuilt again.

These structures are a must see for all those with an interest in architecture and heritage monuments of the city.

You may want to join heritage walks and tours or explore the city on your own. 

You can select the location of stay as per your convenience and decide upon your hotel bookings in Mumbai accordingly. You could choose to stay in one of the many Mumbai tourism hotels, depending on the tourist attractions that you plan to cover.

⇒Here are some Mumbai gift items you can pick up for your near and dear ones, sitting right at your home.

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  • Bhel and vada Pav, thought of it making me hungry. Loved the post Somali. Have inspiring week. Love.

  • Somali.. Good post. last time i visited mumbai was in 1997 . i got to visit these places again

  • beautiful…my city, my fav structures… 🙂

  • It’s the second favourite city of mine. The first one is an obvious choice 😀 Kolkata.

    I’m yet to visit Haji Ali Darga and Kanheri Caves. Hope to cover these two on my next visit 🙂

    Nice post Somali, as always….

    • Thanks Maniparna..Yes you must see Haji Ali Dargah….you have to walk through the stretch into the islet. Remember you don’t need anybody to escort you and chaddars for offering are available inside the dargah itself. Kanheri caves are enjoyable during the monsoons.

  • bhudeb chakrabarti

    April 1, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Although I am from Kolkata ,Mumbai remains my most favourite City .I have very fond memories of Mumbai I would like to visit Mumbai as often as possible and see the heritage structures and sites again and again .Congrats for the excellent and informative post .

  • The are plenty of sites in Mumbai apart from these which may not be listed as heritage. Wilson College, Sassoon Library etc come into mind.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes of course there are many other heritage sites such as The Secretariat, Elphinstone College, Flora Fountain that I have not mentioned here. You will be surprised to know that 591 heritage structures were listed in Mumbai as of 2012. Keep visiting 🙂

  • Well done Somali. Some old memories re-visited. 🙂

  • your posts on Mumbai are a treat Somali 🙂 I loved the explanation and a brief history provided, it makes it so interesting.

  • Liked the post

  • Pranab chakraborti

    April 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks Somali I liked the post. Being a mumbaikar I have visited elephanta and canari caves several times for picnic/adventures. My memory is refreshed now. Thanks a lot.

  • Pranab chakraborti

    April 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Yes why not.Come to Borivali and we will plan a trip

  • Well compiled and interesting post on the places to see in Mumbai.

  • When did you go to Kanheri Caves? 😛

  • Hey Sonali, I am glad I found you on the links of Solo traveller and since then I am following you :). I was looking for something which can guide me for Mumbai darshan as I am new to Mumbai. I am sure these beaches and heritages sites must be great 🙂 . Thanks for such a great post

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