The bustling city of Mumbai has been in the spotlight since Shantaram hit the shelves and Slumdog Millionaire burst onto screens, with a number of UK television shows consequently going ‘behind the scenes’ of the slums as a result of the film’s success.
This exposure has not necessarily been entirely positive for the city, as for international travellers who have not been to India before, Mumbai’s brand identity has become somewhat synonymous with life in the city’s slums.
But a new tour from India Travel Centre and The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts shows that Bombay - as Mumbai is still called by locals - has a lot more to offer and there is a lot more to the slums than meets the eye.
Rajeev Olickel, director of operations, India Travel Centre, says, “We have designed a tour that showcases Mumbai in its true essence, giving travellers a complete mix of real Mumbai experiences and an insight into the real lives of the people, across all spectrums of society.”
The tour includes a visit to a slum in a small group, where travellers will have the opportunity to sees how real businesses are run within the community, how people in this part of the city survive and thrive, and to understand the reality of the hit film.
Travellers will also see Mumbai’s railway system which transports 6.9 million people everyday, visit vibrant market places including ‘thieves market’ and rendezvous with the ‘Dabbawalahs’ – or tiffin carriers – an army of 4,500 semi-literate workers who transport 200,000 tiffins within the city each day, using an extraordinary coding system to ensure the tiffins reach the correct destination.
The tour also gives guests the opportunity to indulge in the city’s contemporary side - dining at signature restaurants, cocktail parties in trendy clubs and visiting contemporary art galleries.
After experiencing the buzz of the city guests will be flown to The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach, Kerala to relax on the beach and enjoy houseboat cruise on the breathtaking backwaters of Kerala.