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History of Mumbai (Bombay) City

Gateway of IndiaThe 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. The islands were incorporated into the Maurya Empire under Emperor Ashoka of Magadha in the third century BCE. The empire's patronage made the islands a centre of Hindu and Buddhist religion and culture. Buddhist monks, scholars, and artists created the artwork, inscriptions, and sculpture of the Kanheri Caves in the mid third century and Mahakali Caves.

After the death of Asoka, Bombay had been taken over by various Hindu rulers until 1343. King Bhimdev founded his kingdom in the region in the late 13th century[24] and established his capital in Mahikawati (present day Mahim).He belonged to either the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri in Maharashtra or the Anahilavada dynasty of Gujarat.  He built the first Babulnath temple in the region and introduced many fruit-bearing trees, including coconut palms to the islands. The Pathare Prabhus, one of the earliest settlers of the city, were brought to Mahim from Patan and other parts of Saurashtra in Gujarat around 1298 by Bhimdev during his reign.Muslim rulers of Gujarat captured the islands in 1348, and they were later governed by the Gujarat Sultanate from 1391 to 1534. The Sultanate's patronage led to the construction of many mosques, prominent being the Haji Ali Dargah in Mahim, built in honour the Muslim saint Haji Ali in 1431.Haji Ali Dargah

The Treaty of Bassein between the Portuguese viceroy Nuno da Cunha and Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate placed the islands into Portuguese possession in 1534. Charles II of England received possession of the islands in 1661 as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal, and leased them to the English East India Company in 1668.The English East India Company took Mumbai on lease from the crown for an annual sum of 10 pounds in gold in the year 1668. They shifted their headquarter from Surat to Mumbai in 1687. Soon, they started calling Mumbai as 'Bombay ' cloased to its Portuguese name 'Bom Baia' . Kolis, the original fisher-folk inhabitants of Mumbai used to call 'Mumba' after Mumbadevi, the Hindu goddess. Bombay’s fort was completed in the 1720s. Completed in 1784, the Hornby Vellard was the first of the engineering projects aimed at joining the seven islands. William Hornby, then Governor of Bombay, initiated the project in 1782 despite opposition from the directors of the East India Company. The cost of the vellard was estimated at Rs. 100,000.

From 1817 the city was reshaped with large civil engineering projects merging the seven islands into one single mass of around 435 km² by 1845.  During the mid-18th century, the city emerged as an important trading town, with maritime trade contacts with Mecca and Basra. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century. The first railway line of India between Victoria Terminus and Thana was inaugurated on 16th April 1853. 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. After the Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Independence, the East India Company was accused of mismanagement and the islands of Bombay were reverted to the British Crown.

The city’s economy got a major boost during the American Civil War, (1861-1865) with the city becoming the world’s chief cotton market. In 1869, the opening up of the Suez Canal, shortened the time between the city and Europe and developed into a major port. Many buildings 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 were constructed in the later half of the 19th century. The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of king George V and Queen Mary for the Darbar at Delhi in 1911.

Kanheri CavesThe city became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century and was the epicentre of the Rowlatt Satyagraha of 1919 and Royal Indian Navy Mutiny of 1946. The Partition of Bengal in 1905 initiated the Swadeshi movement, which led to the boycotting of British goods in India. On 22 July 1908, Lokmanya Tilak, the principal advocate of the Swadeshi movement in Mumbai, was sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment, on the charge of writing inflammatory articles against the Government in his newspaper Kesari. The arrest led to huge scale protests across the city.Historic All India Congress Committee session was started on 7th of August 1942 at Gowala Tank Maidan. Mahatma Gandhi gave 'Quit India' call at this session. British arrested the Indian leaders 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.

Mumbai  is now the financial capital of India and one of the most populous cities in the world. Mumbai grew into a leading commercial center of British India during the 19th century on the basis of textile mills and overseas trade.




History of Mumbai (Bombay) City