Mumbai's aquarium is worth a visit as much for the striking building – a fabulous Art Deco mansion covered in motifs of fish and waves – as for the fishtanks inside. The detailing even extends to the wrought iron sharks on the gates. The collection features plenty of reef fish, plus turtles and other exotic species, along with oddities like the 'Quran fish' whose scales have a remarkable resemblance to an Arabic inscription.
An extension of the Jehangir Art Gallery, this small modern gallery at the Max Mueller Bhavan (Goethe Institute) features regularly changing exhibitions of art by Maharashtran artists. All the work is for sale, and artists are often in attendance to talk about their creations. A programme of upcoming shows is displaying in the entrance to the gallery.
Part of the Nehru Centre cultural complex near the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, this old-fashioned planetarium offers a regular programme of astronomical shows for fans of stars and constellations. With this being India, the shows have overtones of spirituality and astrology as well as serious stellar science.
An annex to the Nehru Centre, the Science Centre is devoted to interactive learning. There are loads of buttons to press and levers to pull – it's targeted at children but good fun for young-at-heart adults too. The complex covers six acres, with a variety of special exhibits and science shows to entertain young minds. Peacocks wander around the gardens and there's an entertaining 3D-diorama of prehistoric monsters.
Mumbai's premier showcase for modern art, the Jehangir Art Gallery was founded in 1952 by the Parsi politician Sir Cowasji Jehangir. The gallery is managed by the Bombay Art Society and the four galleries display artwork by leading local painters, sculptors and other artists. Most of the artwork is for sale but prices reflect the quality of the work. Artists are often in attendance to talk you through their work.
Looming above the seafront at Worli, this cultural centre was founded in 1972 by Indira Gandhi as a monument to national pride and secular values. The helical building was designed by I M Kadri to reflect the idea of a modern secular India. Inside is a small art gallery and the diverting Discovery of India exhibition, which uses sculptures, cut-outs, dioramas and photographs to tell the story of India.
Housed in a dramatic Indo-Saracen building at Kala Ghoda, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum was named for the Maratha hero who freed the region from Mughal control. Inside you can see a fabulous collection of religious statues, Mughal miniature paintings, Indian crafts, ancient arms and armor, and treasures from Tibet, Japan and China. The ticket for foreigners includes a free audio guide.
The former administrative centre for the port of Mumbai, the Ballard Estate was constructed in 1914 by George Wittet, the architect responsible for the Gateway of India. Today the dockside gatehouse contains a small but interesting museum about the maritime history of Mumbai and the construction of the Ballard Estate, including some evocative B&W photos of colonial Mumbai.
The Victorian building containing the Dr Bhau Daji Lad collection is a museum-piece all by itself. Wrought iron arches and brightly painted columns rise above a fascinating display of Indian crafts and artworks. Upstairs is an unusual collection of clay figurines showing the tribes, cultures and customs of the Mumbai area. The building and collection were brilliantly restored in 2006.
This grand gallery in the museum and gallery district at Kala Ghoda shows a regularly changing collection of artworks by Indian artists, plus an interesting programme of visiting exhibitions from around the world. Modern art is the focus, and the building is almost a work of art itself, with a winding Guggenheim-like staircase linking the floors. From the outside, it resembles a miniature Albert Hall.