Mumbai, a City Both Uplifting and Heartbreaking

A couple of logistical items: My flight, booked through Jet Airways, cost a bit over $200 for a one-way flight from Sri Lanka. As I was re-entering India, I had to produce my double-entry e-visa once more to passport control. My Uber ride from the airport was about 370 rupees, or a little more than $5. If you’d prefer not to use Uber, another popular service is Ola Cabs. I used both while in Mumbai, typically opening both apps and using whichever had a car closer to me. The ubiquitous tuk-tuk is conspicuously absent in much of Mumbai (“The traffic here is bad enough,” Mr. Gandhi told me). In central Mumbai, you’ll just see regular taxis. Fortunately, they’re metered, with fares beginning at 22 rupees.

I was well-located in the Fort neighborhood of the city, close to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station, the huge Victorian landmark constructed in the late 19th century. My quarters at the Hotel Residency Fort, Mumbai, booked for $52 a night on, were modest luxury, roomy and air-conditioned, and with free breakfast.

A walk around the neighborhood was the first order of business: A stop by Mumbai’s first Anglican church, St. Thomas Cathedral, established in 1718, was followed by a visit to the free Jehangir Art Gallery near Wellington Fountain. I enjoyed the Nayanaa Kanodia exhibition, “The Quintessential Woman: A Celebration,” which featured oil paintings and drawings celebrating feminism. Another exhibition, “Rural Beauty,” featured darker, more sensual pencil and pastel works by Parshuram B. Patil.

There are numerous fine museums in Mumbai, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India). Admission is 500 rupees, plus an additional 50-rupee fee to take cellphone photos. The main hall of the museum, which features Rajastani temple columns and wooden railings from a nobleman’s home, is topped with a great Islamic dome — a nod to Mumbai’s diverse history.

There are some wonderful statues of Indian deities on the ground floor — Shiva, Ganesh, Brahma and Vishnu, some dating as far back as the sixth century. I also enjoyed looking at a series of paintings from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, done in the Rajasthani Bikaner style, particularly one depicting a scene from the Mahabharata epic.