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HISTORY OF MUMBAI / BOMBAY

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HISTORY OF MUMBAI / BOMBAY - December 29th, 2006

Ancient yet modern, fabulously rich yet achingly poor.


The city of Bombay originally consisted of seven islands, namely Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman's Island , Wadala, Mahim, Parel, and Matunga-Sion. This
group of islands, which have since been joined together by a series of
reclamations, formed part of the kingdom of Ashoka , the famous
Emperor of India.


After his death, these islands passed into the hands of various Hindu rulers until 1343. In that year, the Mohammedans of Gujerat took possession and the Kings of that province of India ruled for the next two centuries. The only vestige (mark) of their dominion over these islands that remains today is the mosque at Mahim.


In 1534 the Portuguese, who already possessed many important trading centers on the western coast, such as Panjim, Daman, and Diu, took Bombay by force of arms from the Mohammedans. This led to the establishment of numerous churches which were constructed in areas where the majority of people
were Roman Catholics. There used to be two areas in Bombay called " Portuguese Church ". However, only one church with Portuguese-style facade still remains; it is the St. Andrew's church at Bandra. The Portuguese also fortified their possession by building forts at Sion, Mahim, Bandra, and Bassien which, although in disrepair, can still be seen. They named their new possession as "Bom Baia" which in Portuguese means " Good Bay ".


A hundred and twenty-eight years later the islands were given to the English King Charles II in dowry on his marriage to Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662. In the year 1668 the islands were acquired by the English East India Company on lease from the crown for an annual sum of 10 pounds in gold; so little did the British value these islands at that time. The Company, which was operating from Surat , was in search for another deeper water port so that larger vessels could dock, and found the islands of Bombay suitable for development. The shifting of the East India Company's headquarters to Bombay in 1687 led to the eclipse of Surat as a principal trading center. The British corrupted the Portuguese name "Bom Baia" to " Bombay ". The Kolis used to call the islands "Mumba" after Mumbadevi, the Hindu deity to whom a temple is dedicated at Babulnath near Chowpatty's sandy beaches.


The first Parsi to arrive in Bombay was Dorabji Nanabhoy Patel in 1640. The Parsis, originally from Iran , migrated to India about 900 years ago. This they did to save their religion, Zoroastrianism, from invading Arabs who proselytized Islam. However, in 1689-90, when a severe plague had struck down most of the Europeans, the Siddi Chief of Janjira made several attempts to re-possess the islands by force, but the son of the former, a trader named Rustomji Dorabji Patel (1667-1763), successfully warded off the attacks on behalf of the British with the help of the 'Kolis', the original fisher-folk inhabitants of these islands. The remnants of the Koli settlements can still be seen at Backbay reclamation, Mahim, Bandra, Khar, Bassien and Madh island.


Sir George Oxenden became the first British Governor of the islands, and was succeeded later by Mr. Gerald Aungier who made Bombay more populous by attracting Gujerati traders, Parsi ship-builders, and Muslim and Hindu manufacturers from the mainland. He fortified defenses by constructing the Bombay Castle (the Fort, since then vanished except for a small portion of the wall) and provided stability by constituting courts of law.


Between 1822 and 1838, cattle from the congested fort area used to graze freely at the Camp Maidan (now called Azad Maidan), an open ground opposite the Victoria Terminus. In 1838, the British rulers introduced a 'grazing fee' which several cattle-owners could not afford. Therefore, Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy spent Rs. 20,000 from his own purse for purchasing some grasslands near the seafront at Thakurdwar and saw that the starving cattle grazed without a fee in that area. In time the area became to be known as "Charni" meaning grazing. When a railway station on the BB&CI railway was constructed there it was called
Charni Road .


The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence on Malabar hill were built by Seth Modi Hirji Vachha in 1672. The Zoroastrians believe in venerating the earth, fire, and water and hence they prefer to expose their dead to the elements and flesh-eating birds within the confines of the Towers of Silence. The first fire-temple was also built in the same year by Seth Vachha opposite his residence at Modikhana within the British fort. Both of the these structures can still be seen today although they have been expanded and strengthened.


The inroads of the sea at Worli, Mahim, and Mahalaxmi turned the ground between the islands into swamps making Bombay an extremely unhealthy place at that time. Many commuters going to the Fort by boat between islands lost their lives when there was a storm during the monsoons (July to September). During the next 40 years much was done to improve matters. Reclamation work to stop the breeches at Mahalaxmi and Worli were undertaken. The Hornby Vellard was completed in 1784, during the Governorship of Mr. Hornby. In 1803 Bombay
was connected with Salsette by a causeway at Sion. The island of Colaba was
joined to Bombay in 1838 by a causeway now called Colaba Causeway and the
Causeway connecting Mahim and Bandra was completed in 1845 at the total cost of Rs.1,57,000 donated entirely by Lady Avabai Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, wife of the
first baronet Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy with a stipulation that no toll would be
charged to citizens for its use by the government. Initially the cost was
estimated at Rs.100,000 but as the work commenced in 1842 the cost escalated.
When the initial sum was exhausted and work about to stop Lady Jeejeebhoy once again dipped in to her personal purse with a second donation to the treasury of Rs.57,000.


Sir Robert Grant (1779-1838) governed Bombay from 1835 to 1838 and was responsible for the construction of a number of roads between Bombay
and the hinterland. The Thana and Colaba Causeways were built during his tenure as well as the Grant Medical College attached to the Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy (J.J.) Group of hospitals.


On Saturday 16th of April, 1853 a 21-mile long railway line, the first in India ,
between Bombay 's Victoria Terminus and Thana was opened. The Great Indian Peninsular (GIP) and the Bombay Baroda and Central India (BB&CI) Railway were started in 1860 and a regular
service of steamers on the west coast was commenced in 1869. Also during this
period Bombay enjoyed great economic wealth. Raw cotton from Gujerat was shipped to Lancashire in England through Bombay port, and after being spun and woven into cloth, returned to be sold in the Indian market. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 increased the demand for cotton in the West and several personal fortunes were made during this period from the resulting trade. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought the West closer to Bombay ,
and as the city became more prosperous, many schemes were launched for
reclaiming additional land and building more roads and wharves.
Bombay began to attract fortune hunters by the hundreds and the population had swelled from 13,726 in 1780 to 644,405 in 1872, in a little less than a hundred years. By 1906 the population of Bombay was to become 977,822.


In 1858, following the First War of
Independence (the British called it the "Sepoy Mutiny") of 1857 in
which the Rani of Jhansi and her infant son strapped on her back were killed,
the East India Company was accused of mismanagement and the islands reverted to
the British Crown. In 1862 Sir Baartle Frere was appointed Governor, an office
which he held until 1867. By 1862 the town had spread over the lands reclaimed
through constructions of causeways and it is from this date we have the rise of
the modern city of Bombay .
In 1864 a fountain was to be erected in his honour at the
Victoria Gardens
by the Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India. Somehow, the plans were
changed at the last moment and the fountain, named after the Greek goddess
Flora, was placed in the centre of the city on what used be known as
Hornby Road .
Unfortunately, no plaque was placed on the fountain to commemorate the name of
Governor in whose memory it was supposed to have been erected.


Around 1860 the piped water supply
from Tulsi and Vehar lakes (and later Tansa) was inaugurated. One reform which
met with much superstitious opposition, before it was implemented, was the
sealing and banning the use of water from open wells and tanks that bred
mosquitoes. A good drainage system was also constructed at the same time.
However, several decades later, the same wells were to serve
Bombay by providing non-potable water to
supplement the same from the lakes. This was true especially during those years
when the monsoons failed to provide sufficient water in the catchment areas of
the lakes. However, well water is now used all over the city to supplement the
water received from the lakes.


The later half of the 19th century was
also to see a feverish construction of buildings in Bombay, many of which such
as, the Victoria Terminus, the General Post Office, Municipal Corporation, the
Prince of Wales Museum, Rajabai Tower and Bombay University, Elphinstone
College and the Cawasji Jehangir Hall, the Crawford Market, the Old Secretariat
(Old Customs House) and the Public Works Department (PWD) Building, still stand
today as major landmarks. The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the
visit of king George V and Queen Mary for the Darbar at
Delhi in 1911.


The docks at Bombay
are a monument of the industry, enterprise and integrity of the Wadia family
which moved in from Surat
at the instigation of the British. In 1870 the Bombay Port Trust was formed. In
1872, Jamshedji Wadia, a master ship-builder constructed the
"Cornwalis", a frigate of 50 guns, for the East India Company, a
success which led to several orders from the British Navy. In all the Wadias,
between 1735-1863 built 170 war vessels for the Company, 34 man-of-war for the
British Navy, 87 merchant vessels for private firms, and three vessels for the
Queen of Muscat at Bombay docks.


The Princess Dock was built in the
year 1885 and the Victoria Dock and the Mereweather Dry Docks in 1891.
Alexandra Dock was completed in 1914. The closing years of the 19th Century
were tragic for Bombay
as the bubonic plague caused great destruction of human life once more. One
significant result of the plague was the creation of the City Improvement Trust
which in later years encouraged the development of the suburbs for residential
purposes to remove the congestion in the city.


As
Bombay 's superintendent of police in 1885,
Charles Forjett was a favourite of the Indian people. Many wept openly when he
returned to England .
He sacked British constables who unduly harassed the locals and cracked down on
the Parsi mafia which was involved in the liquor business in the
Falkland Road area,
which included the famous "Play House" which the locals corrupted to
"pillhouse". The "Pillhouse" area would acquire notoriety
in later years as the infamous "cages" area housing
Bombay 's infamous red-light district.


Lord Sandhurst governed
Bombay between 1895 and
1900 and it was during his tenure that the Act was passed which constituted the
City Improvement Trust which, among other things, built the
Sandhurst Road in 1910 and handed it over
to the municipality. The Sandhurst
Road railway station (upper level) was built in
1921.


As a result of a mysterious fire which
started in one of its holds, on a very hot summer's day on Friday April 14,
1944, the ship " Fort
Stikine " (7420 tons) blew up in the
Bombay docks. At the time
the ship was about to unload a lethal combination of cargo of dried fish and
cotton bales (loaded from Karachi), timber, gun powder, ammunition, and gold
bars from London (the latter to stabilize the Indian Rupee, which was sagging
due to the Second World War and fear of invasion from Japan). The gold bullion
was valued at approx. two million Pounds Sterling
at that time. Nobody is certain as to how the fire started but the two
explosions which followed were so loud that windows rattled and/or shattered as
far away as Dadar, a distance of 8 miles. The destruction in the docks and
surrounding area was immense and several hundred dock workers were killed
instantly. A majority of brave men of the Bombay Fire Brigade, who answered the
call to duty immediately after the first blast, lost their lives in the second
explosion (a monument has been erected in the docks in their honour). The
population of the city was panic stricken as rumours spread rapidly that the
explosions signaled the commencement of hostilities by the Japanese on the same
style as the surprise attack on Pearl
Harbour in the Hawaiian islands
in December 1941. The Japanese were in fact nowhere near Bombay
since they were engaged in fighting a losing battle with the British army in
Burma
at that time. Nevertheless, the Bombay Central (BB&CI) and Victoria
Terminus (GIP) stations were packed to capacity with terrorized people fleeing
the city in whichever train they could board for their villages with all belongings
they could carry. At the time of the explosion, one of the gold bars crashed
through the roof of the third floor apartment of a Parsi named D.C. Motivala
more than a mile from the docks. He promptly returned the gold bar to the
authorities. Almost all of the other gold bars were subsequently recovered from
different parts of the city; the last ones to be found were hauled up from the
bottom of the sea in the docks. However, during normal dredging operations
carried out periodically to maintain the depth of the docking bays one or two
gold bars were found intact sporadically as late as the 1970s and returned to
the British government. The government took full responsibility for the
disaster and monetary compensation was paid to citizens who made a claim for
loss or damage to property.

The Port Trust Railway from Ballard
Pier to Wadala was opened in 1915. Along this railway were built grain and fuel
oil depots. The kerosene oil installations were developed at Sewri and for
petrol at Wadala. In the same year the first overhead transmission lines of the
Tata Power Company were erected, and in 1927 the first electric locomotives
manufactured by Metropolitan Vickers of England were put into service for
passenger trains up to Poona and Igatpuri on the GIP railway and later electric
multiple unit (EMUs) commuter trains ran up to Virar on the BB&CI railway
and up to Karjat and Kasara of the GIP railway. During the Second World War
these EMUs were joined together to form long trains which carried troops and
small arms and ammunition to and from Bombay
to the hinterland.


The Fort (downtown) area in
Bombay derives its name from the fact that the area fell
within the former walled city, of which only a small fragment survives as part
of the eastern boundary wall of the St.
George's Hospital .
In 1813 there were 10,801 persons living in the fort, 5,464, or nearly 50%, of
them Parsis. With the growth of the city more people came from the Fort to such
suburbs as Byculla, Parel, Malabar Hill, and Mazagaon. European sports clubs
for cricket and other games came in to existence early in the 19th Century. The
Bombay Gymkhana was formed in 1875 exclusively for Europeans. Other communities
followed this example, and various Parsi, Muslim, and Hindu gymkhanas were
started nearby with fierce sports competitions among them being organized on a
communal basis. This was opposed by several secular minded persons, such as the
late A.F.S. Talyarkhan, and sports teams based on community, especially cricket
teams, came to an end gradually after independence from British rule in 1947.


The historic session of the All India
Congress Committee began on the 7th of August 1942. Its venue was the Gowalia
Tank Maidan, where the congress was born in 1885. It was at this session that
the "Quit India" call was given by Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian
National Congress leaders. The Indian leaders were arrested by the British soon
afterwards but the momentum of the Quit India movement could not be stopped and
led to the final withdrawal of the British on 15 August 1947. The last British
troops on Indian soil left for England
through the archway of the Gateway of India on that day. They bade farewell
from where they had entered 282 years before. The people of
Bombay , in a gesture of generosity wished them
bon voyage, forgetting the bitter memories of the fight for independence. Today
the maidan from where the call to "Quit India" was given is called
the "August Kranti Maidan".


After independence the Congress party led
by Jawaharlal Nehru at the Center was swept to power in most of the Indian
States, which were constituted on the basis of language spoken by the majority
of its people. The Bombay
State included the city
as its seat of government. In 1960 the state of Bombay
was split into Maharashtra and Gujarat states again on linguistic basis, the
former retaining Bombay
city as its capital. The Congress party continued to administer
Maharashtra until 1994 when it was replaced by the Shiv
Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition.


With the success of the back-bay
reclamation scheme in the late 1960s and early 1970s Nariman Point became the
hub of the business activity. Several offices shifted from the Ballard Estate
to Nariman Point which ultimately became one of the most expensive real estate
in the world as high demand pushed prices to astronomical limits. Nariman Point
is named after K.F. Nariman, president of the Bombay Provincial Congress
Committee and former mayor of Bombay .
Churchgate Street
was also renamed as Veer Nariman
Road after independence.


The Stock Exchange at Bombay
was established in 1875 as "The Native Share and Stockbrokers
Association" which has evolved over the decades in to its present status
as the premier Stock Exchange in
India . It is one of the oldest in
Asia having preceded even the Tokyo Stock Exchange which
was founded in 1878. In the early days the business was conducted under the
shade of a banyan tree in front of the town hall. The tree can still be seen in
the Horniman
Circle Park .
In 1850 the Companies Act was passed and that heralded the commencement of the
joint stock companies in India .
The American Civil War of 1860 helped Indians to establish brokerage houses in
Bombay . The leading broker
at the time, Premchand Roychand, assisted in framing conventions, ground rules
and procedures for trading which are respected even now. He was the first
Indian broker who could speak and write in fluent English. The exchange was
established with 318 members with a fee of Re. 1/-. This fee has gradually
increased over the years and today it is a over a crore.


In January 1899, the Brokers' Hall was
inaugurated by James M. MaClean, M.P. After the First World War the Bombay
Stock Exchange (BSE) was housed in an old building near the Town Hall. In 1928,
the present plot of land was acquired surrounded by
Dalal Street , Bombay
Samachar Marg, and Hammam Street .
A building was constructed in 1930 and occupied in December of that year.


In 1995 the operations and dealings of
the BSE were fully computerized and thus the famous out-cry system of share
trading was replaced by screen based trading as in other modern stock exchanges
around the world. Today Bombay is the financial
and business capital of India .
The BSE is housed in the 28-storied Phiroze
Jeejeebhoy Towers
in the same place where the old building once stood. Sir Phiroze Jamshedji
Jeejeebhoy was the Chairman of the Exchange from 1966 till his death in 1980.
The building has been named after him since its construction commenced during
his Chairmanship and was completed just as he passed away.
















New
names for old streets






Old
Street Name


New
Street Name



Apollo
Pier Road



Chhatrapati
Shivaji Marg



Arthur
Road



Sane
Guruji Marg



Apollo
Street



Bombay
Samachar Marg



Andheri
Versova Road



Jaiprakash
Marg



Azad
Road



Veer
M Manekar Marg



Andheri
Kurla Road



Sir
Mathuradas V Marg



Argyle
(Part)


Sant
Tukaram Marg


Bhatia
Baug (V T)


Nagar
Chowk



Ballard
Road



Shoorjee
Vallabhdas Marg



Bastian
Road


Amrit
Keshav Naik Marg



Bazar
Gate Street



Perin
Nariman Street




Bellasis
Road



Jehangir
Behram Road




Bombay
Agra Road



Lal
Bhadur Shastri Marg



Bruce
Street



Homi
Modi Street




Carnac
Road



Lokmanya
Tilak Marg



Cadell
Road



Veer
Savarkar Marg



Cruickshank
Road



Mahapalika
Marg



Carnegy
Road
(Near Marinelines)


Nathibai
Thackersey Road




Central
Avenue Marg


Swami
Dayanand Marg



Charni
Road



Rammohan
Roy Marg



Chakala
Street



Sherif
Devji Street




Chruchgate
Street



Veer
Nariman Marg



Clark
Road



Keshavrao
Khadye Marg



Duncan
Road



Maulana
Azad Marg



Dougal
Road


Narottam
Morarji Marg



Delisle
Roa


N
M Joshi Marg



Dadar
M Road
(North)


Dadasaheb
Falke Marg



Dhobi
Talao


K
Vasudeo B Fadke Choke



Dugall
Road



Narottam
Morarji Marg



Eliphistone
Circle



Mahatma
Gandhi Marg



Explanade
Road



P
D Mello Marg



Frere
Road
(part)


Ganpatrao
Kadam Marg



Fergusson
Road



General
Bhonsle Marg



Foreshore
Road


Shahid
Bhagat Singh Marg



Flora
Fountain


Hutatma
Chowk



Forbes
Street



Dr
V B Gandhi Marg



Foras
Road



R
S Nimbkar Marg



Fort
Street


Walchand
Hirachand Road




Girgaum
Road



J
Shankarseth Road




Ghodbunder
Road



S
Vivekanand
Marg



Grant
Road



M
Shuakat Ali Road




Graham
Road



J
N Herdia Marg



Gowalia
Tank Road



August
Kranti Marg



Ghatkopar
Mohul Road



R
Chembulkar Marg



Hornby
Road



Dr
Dadabhai Nawrojee Marg



Horby
Road



Lala
Lajpat Rai Marg



Huges
Road



Nayaymurti
L Patkar Marg



Harvey
Road



Pandit
Ramabai Marg



Haji
Ali Chowk


Vatsala
Bai Desai Chowk



Home
Street


Charanjit
Rai Marg



Haines
Street



Dr
E Moses Marg



Harkness
Road



Jamnadas
Mehta Road




Jacob
Circle



Gadge
Maharaj Chowk



Juhu
Lane



C
D Barfiwala Marg



Kings
Circle



Maheshwari
Udyan



Lamington
Road



Dr
A Nair Road




Lohar
Street



K
M Sharma Road




Lohar
Street



N
C Kelkar Marg



Lady
Jamshedji Road



Vithalbai
Patel Marg



Linking
Road


N
Subhash Bose Marg



Marine
Lines Street



Sir
Dinshaw Mulla Marg



Medows
Street



Nagindas
Master Marg



Mayo
Road



Bhaurao
Patil Marg



Masjid
Bunder Road



Yusuf
Meherali Marg



Military
Road


Jawaharlal
Nehru Marg



Marine
Drive


Netaji
Subhash Marg



New
Queens Road



Mama
Permanand Marg



Napeansea
Road



Jagmohandas
Marg



Parsee
Bazar Street



Syed
Abdullah Brelvi Marg



Parel
Groves Gate Road



Samaldas
Gandhi Marg



Portuguese
Road



Raosaheb
S K Bole Marg



Wittet
Road
& Fort Street



Walchand
Hirachand Marg



Peddar
Road



Dr
Deshmukh Road




Pali
Danda Marg


Ambedkar
Marg



Queens
Road



Maharshi
Karve Marg



Ridge
Road


Bal
Gangadhar Kher Marg



Rampart
Row


Khushroo
Dubash Marg



Sandhurst
Road



S
V Patel Marg



Sion
Circle



M
Laxmibai Chowk



Tardeo
Road



Jawjee
Dadaji Marg



Tulsi
Pipe Road



Senapati
Bapat Marg



Thakurdwar
Road


Dr
Jaykar Marg



Victoria
Road


Sant
Savtamali Road



Victoria
Gardens


Jijamata
Bhonsle Udyan



Warden
Road


Bhulabai
Desai Road



Worli
Road


Vir
Savarkar Marg



Wittet
Road & Fort Street


Walchand
Hirachand Marg



Waudby
Road


Hajarimal
Somani Marg



Waterfield
Road


Ramchandra
K Patkar



Wood
House Road


N
Parjekar Marg
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