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History of Bombay

Gateway of India MumbaiThe Ancient Essence
The present day dynamic and vibrant Bombay City was originally an archipelago of seven small islands - Bombay, Parel, Mazagaon, Mahim, Colaba and the Old Woman's Island (Little Colaba). Composed of mangrove forests and marsh lands, crisscrossed with rivers, streams and seas, these clusters of islands were inhabited by the Koli tribes of fishermen who worshipped Goddess Mumbadevi, which owes to the name Mumbai.

In the 3rd Century BC these islands came under Maurya Empire under the expansion campaign of Emperor Asoka. This led to the rapid spread of Hindu and Buddhist religion. It was the period, which put Mumbai onto the high pedestal of ancient heritage with the construction of awe-inspiring caves like Kanheri Cave, Elephanta Caves, Jogeshwari Caves and the Mahakali Caves. These caves were the veritable place for Buddhist settlement.

Medieval Sweep
Bombay changed hands many a times owing to its strategic locale commercially. Being a port area, these islands also basked in the golden era of Gupta Empire. The Silhara dynasty ruled the region between 810 AD and 1240 AD. A prominent testimony of this dynasty lives in the form of a mosque at Mahim. The modern Banganga tank and Walkeshwar Temple were built under the patronage of Silhara dynasty.

Imperialistic Impressions
The rising commercial importance of Mumbai region led to the advent of foreign powers. And in 1534 the islands came under the dominion of Portuguese governance. The Portuguese consolidated their position onto the Bombay region with the establishment of forts at Sion, Mahim, Bandra and Bassien. They named this newfound land as 'Bom Baia', which in their language means 'Good Bay'. This was the period when nine Roman Churches were built on Sashti Island.

Once under the imperialistic designs, the Mumbai region once again changed its owner and Charles II gained it as a dowry gift with his marriage to Catherine de Braganza in 1661. In the year 1668, the English East India Company took over the command of these money-minting islands under a lease agreement of 10 Pounds per annum. Under the reign of the company, Mumbai islands found a fresh breath of commercial boost.

Growth Unhinged
Bombay's history is incomplete without the mention of the Parsi community who has a substantial contribution to make in its comprehensive growth both economically and culturally. The first Parsi to arrive in Bombay was Dorabji Nanabhoy in 1640. The first fire-temple was by Seth Vachha opposite his residence at Modikhana on the island of Bombay in 1672. He also built the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence on Malabar Hills in the same year.

In 1687 the presidency of East India Company was shifted from Surat to Bomaby. In 1708 Bombay became its official headquarter. With the outbreak of civil war in America in 1861, the demnad for cotton in the west was increased greatly leading to the setting up of the first cotton mill in Mumbai in 1854, leading to the rapid indutrialization of the region and rising affluence.

The later half of 19th Century saw a massive construction spree with the building up of the Victoria Terminus Victoria Terminus, the General Post Office, Municipal Corporation, the Prince of Wales Museum, Rajabai Tower and Bombay University, Elphistone 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.

Mumbai had its own invaluable contribution to make during India's independence movment. It was a hot seat of revolutionary campaigns. The Quit India Movement took off from Mumbai on August 7, 1942 by the Congress Party in a public meeting at Gowalia Tank. The Mumbai Mutiny of 1946 marked the first and most serious revolt by the Indian military personnel of the Western naval fleet against the British rule.

Post Independence, Mumbai has been one of the most progressive cities coming up as a seat of domestic and international trade. Mumbai has seen an exponetial growth at all fronts. The city is the home to India's two largest stock markets, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE). The fast pace lifestyle is reflective of the modern day Mumbai living. People migrate to this city of dreams in hordes in quest to earn a decent living and be a part of the gusty land of oppportuities.