Nowhere reinforces your sense of having arrived in Mumbai, with an MSC Grand Voyages cruise ship, quite as emphatically as the Gateway of India, the city’s defining landmark.
Only a five-minute walk north, the Prince of Wales Museum should be next on your list of sightseeing priorities during your cruise to Mumbai, as much for its flamboyantly eclectic architecture as for the art treasures inside.
The museum provides a foretaste of what lies in store just up the road, where the cream of Bartle Frere’s Bombay – the University and High Court – line up with the open maidans on one side, and the boulevards of Fort on the other. But for the fullest sense of why the city’s founding fathers declared it Urbs Prima in Indis, you should press further north still to visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), the high-water mark of India’s Raj architecture.
Beyond CST lie the crowded bazaars and Muslim neighbourhoods of central Mumbai, at their liveliest and most colourful around Crawford Market and Mohammed Ali Road. Possibilities for an MSC excursion include a trip out to Elephanta, a rock-cut cave on an island in Mumbai harbour containing a wealth of ancient art. Another great excursion is the Gateway of India. Commemorating the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, India’s own honey-coloured Arc de Triomphe, the Gateway of India, is Colaba’s principal monument and the landmark most iconic of Mumbai in the Indian imagination.
The aforementioned Prince of Wales Museum of Western India ranks among the city’s most distinctive Raj-era constructions. It stands rather grandly in its own gardens off MG Road, crowned by a massive white Mughal-style dome, beneath which one of India’s finest collections of paintings and sculpture is arrayed on three floors.