<p>Photo: Chowpatty Beach</p>

People cool off at popular Chowpatty Beach, with the Nariman Point business district in the distance.

Photograph by Sam Hollenshead/Polaris

Home to the razzle-dazzle world of Bollywood—India’s answer to Hollywood—rambunctious Mumbai (Bombay) is an utterly mind-bending assault on all the senses. A veritable melting pot of religions, customs, and culinary traditions, this is India’s economic powerhouse and its most cosmopolitan metropolis. Said to have more millionaires per square mile than Manhattan, Mumbai also has the dubious distinction of housing Asia’s largest slum. Indeed, the “City of Dreams,” as it’s affectionately dubbed, is a city of sharp contrasts: business tycoons drive past scantily clad street urchins; swanky bars overlook rickety chai stalls, and women wrapped in chiffon saris shop alongside college girls flaunting the latest Western designer wear. Yes, if there’s a city that stirs the soul and fires the imagination like no other, it’s Mumbai.

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