Arts and Ideas - Bombay

Monuments and Places

   The city of Bombay comprised of seven islands, namely Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman's Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel, and Matunga-Sion. Not much is known about the early history of Bombay, apart from the possibility that it formed part of the empire of Ashoka in the 3rd century B. C., that the fishermen community called Kolis worshipped a Goddess called Mumba and in the 13th century C. E. it was ruled by the Silhara Dynasty. in 1343, the Muslim rulers of Gujrat occupied Bombay and ruled for the next 200 years. The first Portuguese sailor to arrive on Bombay was Francis Almeida in 1508. In 1534 the Portuguese, who had built many trading centres on the western coast, such as Panjim, Daman, and Diu, conquered Bombay from Bahadur Shah of Gujrat. They called it Bom Baia or the Good Bay. They built many Catholic Churches in the region out of which the only remains are extant in the St. Andrews’ Church at Bandra. In 1662, Bombay came as dowry of the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Barganza to England. The English East India Company acquired it on lease from the Crown in 1668. Bombay provided a natural harbour to thr Portuguese and later, to the British. The British transferred their centre from Surat to Bom Baia in 1687 and renamed it as Bombay.

    The Colaba Causeway was built in 1838 to join the Island of Colaba with Bombay. Today, Colaba is home to the headquarters of the Indian Navy. On 16th of April, 1853 a 21-mile long railway line, between Bombay's Victoria Terminus and Thana was started, which was the first in India. The train network was built by the British to transport raw material from the various parts of India to their power base, from where it was transported to England and the finished goods were brought back to India to be sold at a higher price.

   Many of the famous heritage monuments of Bombay were built in the 19th century. Some of these are the Victoria Terminus, the Prince of Wales Museum, Rajabhai Tower, the Bombay University, Elphinston College, the Crawford Market, David Sassoon Library and the first Jewish synagogue in Bombay. The residents of Bombay stress that many rich Indians contributed financially for the construction of these monuments. King George V and Queen Mary visited India and held a grand Darbar at Delhi in 1911 and to receive their entourage, the Gateway of India was built. This point became the main entreport of the British, though Indians like to emphasise the point that this was also the point from where the British sailed back to England in 1947. Today, Bombay is the chief commercial centre of India, though the money generated is concentrated in a small proportion of the population of Bombay; hence the city is also home to Dharavi the largest slum of Asia, a flourishing black market and most of the postcolonial multi-story buildings of Bombay are in need of repair and maintenance. Of late, the misplaced nationalism of the RSS-Shiv Sena is also damaging the cosmopolitan environment of Bombay, which is detrimental to this city in the long run.

Interactive Map of Bombay

Photos of Bombay

Shimla Aurangabad JaipurHimachal