History of Mumbai
History of Mumbai
History of Mumbai
The history of Mumbai recounts the growth of a collection of islands on the western coast of India becoming the commercial and cultural capital of the nation and one of the most populous cities in the world. Although the islands were inhabited by humans since the Stone Age, the city was founded by Portuguese and British colonists in the 17th century. The city was named Bombay by the Portuguese and it served as the citys official name until 1995, when it was changed to Mumbai, and both names are popularly and commonly used. Its inhabitants are informally known as Bombayites or Mumbaikars.
The present city was originally made up of seven small islands, composing mostly of mangrove forests and marshland dissected by rivers, streams and the sea. Fishing villages and settlements of the Koli and Aagris tribes developed on these islands, and the area became a centre for Hindu and Buddhist and Christian culture and religion under the Maurya Empire. Many of the Koli were christains from the early ages. The ancient port of Sopara served to connect western India with West Asia, and in the 9th century the area came under the rule of the Silhara dynasty, before falling in 1343 to the Muzaffarid dynasty of Gujarat. The arrival of the Portuguese in India in 1498 resulted in them appropriating much of the west coast of India. In 1508, Francis Almeida sailed in the archipelago and named it Bom Bahia or “Good Bay.” In 1661 the seven islands were ceded to Charles II of England as the dowry of Catherine de Braganza. The islands were leased to the British East India Company in 1668.
The British undertook land-filling and draining of the marshlands, developing a modern port and city, which attracted migrant workers from across India. In the 19th century, Mumbai emerged as an important centre of international commerce, industry and culture and in the 20th century, it became an important centre for politics and government, becoming a strong base of the Indian independence movement. Following Indias independence in 1947, the citys population has expanded exponentially. Modern service, commerce and technology sectors have replaced the older, heavier industries and the expansion of city limits has been accompanied by the foundation of the sister city of Navi Mumbai. Although suffering from widespread crime, pollution, and overpopulation, Mumbai remains the most attractive centre of life, culture and commerce in India, with its inhabitants enjoying a far higher quality living conditions and a vibrant, modern economy and urban infrastructure.
The Seventeenth Century
The first important event recorded in the history of 17th century Bombay dates from 1640, during the Portuguese occupation of the islands. The first Parsi, a trader called Dorabji Nanabhai, is known to have settled in Bombay in this year.
In 1661, the islands of Bombay passed to the British Crown, when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. However, the Portuguese garrison in Bassein refused to part with the islands of Salsette, Parel, Worli and Mazagaon. British soldiers captured these islands only in 1665, and a treaty was signed in the manor house on the island of Bombay.
The British East India Company received it from the crown in 1668 for the sum of 10 pounds a year, payable every September 30. Sir George Oxenden, then President of the factory in Surat, became the first Governor of Bombay. The Company immediately set about the task of opening up the islands by constructing a quay and warehouses. A customs house was also built. Fortifications were made around the manor house, now renamed Bombay Castle. A Judge-Advocate was appointed for the purpose of civil administration. Sir George died in 1669.
Gerald Aungier was appointed the President of the Surat factory and Governor of Bombay in 1672, and remained at this post till 1675. He offered various inducement to skilled workers and traders to set up business in the new township. As a result, a large number of Parsis, Armenian, Bohras, Jews, Gujarati banias from Surat and Diu and Brahmins from Salsette came to Bombay. The population of Bombay was estimated to have risen from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 in 1675.
Gerald Aungier established the first mint in Bombay. In 1670 the Parsi businessman Bhimjee Parikh imported the first printing press into Bombay. Aungier planned extensive fortifications from Dongri in the north to Mendhams Point (near present day Lion Gate) in the south. However, these walls were only built in the beginning of the 18th century. The harbour was also developed, with space for the berthing of 20 ships. In 1686, the Company shifted its main holdings from Surat to Bombay.
During the Portuguese occupation, Bombay exported only coir and coconuts. With the coming of many