Fans snap photos of stars on the Walk of Fame, while sleek high-rises overlook a hazy stretch of beach – you would be forgiven for mistaking Mumbai for Los Angeles. The resemblance is especially clear around Nairman Point and in the Bandra districts, where some of Bollywood’s biggest stars occupy the expensive-looking beachfront homes. Office workers and well-groomed teenagers march up and down the promenade. Venture away from this sheltered enclave, and Mumbai reveals itself in a fog of exhaust fumes, motorised rickshaws and makeshift bazaars, with a melody of car horns, humming mopeds and multilingual exchanges in the air.
Mumbai used to be split over seven separate islands, which were merged during the 19th century in a process that lasted nearly 60 years.
If you can face an early start, watch the sun rise over the imposing Gateway of India monument, a relic of British colonialism, and retire to chic Juhu Beach to feast on dosas and lassis from the street food stands.