History of Mumbai City

Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and it was called Bombay before 1996. The name Bombay was derived from the name Bom Baia which meant Good Bay in Portuguese language. The history of Mumbai dates back to 1000 BCE when there were trade relationship with other countries of the world like Egypt and Persia. Various dynasties like Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Chalukyas, Mauryas and Rashtrakutas ruled over this place. Later the Mauryan King Ashoka annexed the seven islands comprising the city of Bombay to his kingdom. These seven islands are Colaba, Old Woman’s Island, Mahim, Wadala, Parel, Mazagaon and Matunga – Sion. In 1343 the archipelago went into the hands of the Mohammedans of Gujarat.

Portuguese who came to India for trade captured various regions on the western coast like Daman and Diu and established their trade centers there in 16th century. They took Bombay under their control by force and constructed many churches there including St. Andrew’s church. When the English King Charles II married the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662, Bombay was given as a part of their dowry. In 1668, Bombay was given on lease of 10 pounds of gold per year to the British East India Company. They shifted their headquarters to Bombay in 1687.

Mr. Gerald Aungier succeeded Sir George Oxenden as the governor of Bombay archipelago and during his time period, trade flourished in this place as he attracted many Gujarati traders, Parsi ship builders and other manufacturers from various parts of the world. It was during his time that the Bombay Castle was built. In 1838, the system of grazing fee was introduced and many cattle owners found it difficult to afford. The place was called as Charni meaning grazing and the road later on came to be called as Charni Road.

During the tenure of Sir Robert Grant from 1835 to 1838, many roads, Thane-Colaba Causeways, Grant Medical College and Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy Group of Hospitals were built. The first railway line from Victoria Terminus in Bombay to Thane was constructed and was opened on 16th April 1853. The steam engines started their regular service in 1869. Bombay saw great economic changes during that period. It flourished in cotton manufacturing and export. Due to the American Civil War in 1861 the demand for cotton increased in the Western world. When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, Bombay was brought closer to the West in maritime trade and cotton was exported in bulk from Bombay.

In 1859, as a result of the First War of Independence, the control of Bombay went into the hands of the British Crown and Sir Baartle Frere was appointed as its Governor. In the second half of 19th century, many historical buildings such as the General Post Office, the Victoria Terminus, Elphinstone College, the Old Secretariat, etc were constructed.

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