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Description of Early Bombay nee’ Mumbai

This information is given about Bombay in the Imperial Gazetteer during the period 1908 to 1930. During this period a frenzied activity was taking place resulting in the development of a city which is nowadays known as the commercial capital of India.

In the historical context, originally Bombay formed the outer portion of the Kingdom Aparanta or North Konkan and was ruled by King Asoka. He was succeeded by Satavahanas, who ruled this area in the second century AD. After this the succession of rules belonging to Mauriya, Chaulakyas and Rashtrakutas.

The original inhabitants of the place are Kolis which have their settlements in Colaba, Warli, Sion, Mazgaon and Naigaon. These people were mostly fishermen and husbandmen and thought have moved here during the advent of christian period. The island takes its name Mumbai from the Koli goddess Mumbadevi whose temple once stood at the place presently occupied by Victoria Terminus.

The bazaar represented the most northerly side of Fort area. The first significant building outside the fort was Victoria Terminus of Great Indian Peninsula Railway very handsome building standing at the site of old Mumbadevi temple. Opposite the station are the municipal offices. The foundation stone of the municipal office was laid down by Lord Ripon in December 1884. A short distance away are the newly erected offices of the famous English newspaper The Times of India. At a few minutes stroll away is the market known as Crawford market named after Arthur Crawford, who was the municipal commissioner of Bombay from 1856 to 1871. North of this market lies the native Bombay. There are two well known thoroughfares in this area namely Kalbadevi and Abdur Rehman street both of which lead to Paydhuni (foot-wash) so known because the passerby used to wash their feet in the stream flowing through this area. At the junction of these thoroughfares, lies the temple of Mumbadevi guardian Goddessof the city.

Parel was one area which was favorite place with the British authorities. Parel was, along with Naigaon, Wadala, Matunga occupied by Bhima Raja in 1284 on their arrival from Deccan. But Parel has yielded the favorite position to fashionable Malabar Hill and Cummbala Hill which have some very beautiful buildings. From the Malabar Hill and Altamount Road, the view is very beautiful. At night, one can look at the palm groves at Chaupati, Backbay, Rajabai Clock Tower and secretariat and light house in an unbroken line of lights in an arc appropriately called Queen’s Necklace.

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