Mahim

Name-Changing Anyone?
The different epithets that Mahim has had:
Bimbsthan – Prabhavati – Mahikawati – Maijim – Mahim

Map of Ancient Mahim

The former island of Mahim has a romantic and chequered history. It is one of the seven islands that originally made up Mumbai.

Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, and often called the city of dreams, is located on the west coast of India, in the state of Maharashtra. Mumbai is to India, what New York is to the U.S of A, or what London is to Great Britain.

The seven islands which together were called Bom Baia by the Portuguese meaning Good Bay were:

Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman’s Island, Worli, 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 Mighty Emperor of India who reigned from 273 B.C to 232 B.C. After him the island was ruled by several Hindu rulers till the 14th century (A.D).

Mahim, or Mahikawati as it was known, was the capital of Raja Bhimdev, who reigned over the region in the 13th century. Raja Bhimdev’s origins are not clearly known. He may have come from Anahilwada-Patan in Gujarat or from the dynasty of Yadavs in Deogiri. He built a palace and a court of justice in Prabhadevi, as well as the first Babulnath temple.

During his reign he brought various communities to these islands, such as the Pathare Prabhus (the first settlers), Palshis, Pachkalshis, Bhandaris, Vadvals, Brahmins, etc. The Bhandaris were originally toddy tappers; the Vadvals were gardeners. He also introduced many fruit-bearing trees, including coconut palms to the island. Today, we cannot think of Mumbai’s landscape without its swaying coconut palms.

In 1343, this island was possessed by the Mohammedans of Gujarat. It was in their reign that the old Mahim mosque was built. Dargah of Makhtum Fakir Ali Paru was built here in 1431.

In 1543, the Portuguese then took possession of the island of Bombay by force of arms. By then they were already in possession of other trading centres on the west coast such as Panjim (in Goa) and Daman & Diu. They built several churches; the St. Andrew’s Church in the suburb of Bandra has the distinctive Portuguese-style facade which is very much visible even today.

A hundred and twenty-eight years after the Portuguese captured the island, it passed into the hands of, who else, but the British. This tale too is not without its romance.

In 1662, these islands were given to the English King, Charles the II, as a part of the wedding dowry for the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza.

In 1668, Bombay was acquired by the English East India Company, on lease from the crown, for the annual sum of 10 pounds in gold (!). The British built the Mahim Fort here in order to protect themselves from the Portuguese.

This heritage structure has perhaps not been given its due, for today it stands virtually in ruins – a sad testimony to our times.

Anyway, continuing with our historical journey, in the 1670s, a convent of Our Lady of Salvation was built, and a Franciscan church constructed in what is now Dadar.

The East India Company shifted its headquarters from Surat to “Bombay” (corrupted by the British from “Bom Baia”) in 1687. Thus Mumbai (from “Mumbadevi”-the goddess of the fisher-folk), acquired even more importance as a trading centre – it became the gateway to India, which of course was called the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The Causeway connecting Mahim and Bandra (corrupted from “Bunder” meaning port) was completed in 1845 at a total cost of Rs.1,57,000 donated entirely by Lady Avabai Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, wife of the first baronet Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy with a stipulation that no toll would be charged to citizens for its use by the government.

In 1847, a small group of Scottish missionaries decided to start a new school. Charitable, god-fearing and humble, they stayed in the background working unobtrusively and leaving no trace of their names. Nevertheless, they paved the way for a glorious future for Bombay Scottish School. On 28th February 1878, the construction of the Bombay Scottish Orphanage was completed at a cost of Rs 84,015 and opened by his Excellency, the Hon. Sir Richard Temple Bart, G.C.S.I, the then Governor and President in Council.

In 1913, the Bombay Municipal Corporation opened up Mahim for development as a suburb. This was done by building three major north-south access roads, now called the Western Express highway, N. M. Joshi Marg, and Tulsi Pipe Road. And so to now, circa 2000 A.D. For such a small area, Mahim houses several places of worship. It boasts of temples, churches, mosques, and a Gurudwara – in short, something for every person of every religion. It is also in close proximity to the remarkable Maharashtra Nature Park. This park has been created out of a garbage dump, and houses a bird sanctuary. It houses 12,500 varieties of plants and several rare birds including flamingos.

With several restaurants, businesses, stores and places of entertainment, Mahim can truly be likened to a buzzing beehive.

And today, Mahim is well connected with rest of Mumbai by Western railway, Harbour railway and Mahim Bus Depot, which has buses travelling to the far south Mumbai, Colaba and also to far north Mumbai, Dahisar.

Mahim Fort

For a large part of this last millennium, barring the last 55 years, India had many rulers. Be it the Mughals, Portuguese, or British, there has been no shortage of folks who wanted to rule this part of the world – after all, India was once called the land of milk and honey.

The city of Mumbai has several historic monuments and heritage sites, each telling its own tale. The Mahim Durgah, the Portuguese Church, or for that matter the Gateway of India, are all legacies of the ruler of that era.

Of these, the Mahim Fort is a relic from the British Raj. This fort is actually a fortress – a part of the larger “Bombay Castle” or St. George’s Castle. This castle was an important base during the time of the British Empire, but now all that remains are a few ramparts scattered about the city.

The Mahim Fort has cousins in Sion, Worli, Shivri and Mazgaon. The fort was built by the then Governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier, in the year 1669, in order to strengthen British defences. He also made Bombay more populous by attracting Gujarati traders, Parsi shipbuilders, and Muslim and Hindu manufacturers from the mainland.

A man named Thomas Grantham then strengthened the fort’s ramparts in 1684. In the year 1772, 111 years after Bombay was taken from them, the Portuguese attempted to attack this fort. The British replied with cannonballs and thunder. In fact, the Bandra church also bore the brunt of their fire. By all historical accounts, there were apparently 100 soldiers and 30 cannons in the Mahim Fort at that time.

It is therefore anti-climactic that today, in all probability, all one can find are encroachers and hutments in the area. It is sad that a heritage site with such a glorious past, has been allowed to run to seed. The fort which was once visible from the Mahim Causeway and Bandra Reclamation, is barely visible now. The Mahim Fort needs to be restored and given the status of heritage structure.

A case of Mahim Fort, Mahim, Mumbai, submitted by Swetal Kanwelau of the Kamala Raheja Institute of Architecture & Environmental Studies, Mumbai, won the second prize at the Second IAHH International Student Design Competition. The results were announced in February 2004. The competition was aimed at investigating the issue of urban decay and degradation to evolve a more enlightened approach to planning, design and management of revitalisation, restructuring, redesign, conservation and redevelopment of such urban areas.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in its budget proposal for 2005-2006 has intended to pay special attention to Mahim Fort.

This is Bombay

Mumbai Map 

Timeline of Mumbai events

up to 18th century

  • 600 BC — First known permanent settlement.
  • 300 BC — Part of Ashokas Empire.
  • 900 to 1300 — part of Hindu Silhara dynasty.
  • 1343 — Part of the Gujarat sultanate.
  • 1508 — Francisco de Almeida sailed into the deep natural harbour.
  • 1534 — Mumbai ceded to the Portuguese.
  • 1661 — Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza brings Bom Bahia to King Charles II of England as part of her marriage dowry.
  • 1668/1669 — East India Company takes over Bombay
  • 1670 — First printing press imported to Bombay by Parsi businessman Bhimji Parikh
  • 1675 — Population estimated to have risen to 60,000 from 10,000 in 1661.
  • 1675 — The Mumba Devi temple built by an immigrant Hindu woman, Mumba, near the main landing site on the former Bori Bunder creek or inlet, against the north wall of the English Fort Saint George.
  • 1708 — The first agiary is built (Banaji Limji agiary)
  • 1733 — City gets another agiary (Manekji Sett agiary)
  • 1735 — Start of ship-building industry.
  • 1777 — First newspaper published in Bombay by Rustomji.

19th century

  • 1822 — First vernacular language newspaper in Bombay, Mumbai Samachar published by Fardoonjee. India’s oldest newspaper still being published.
  • 1838 — First edition of Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce launched
  • 1845 — Grant Medical College founded.
  • April 16, 1853 — First railway line in India between Bombay and Thane.
  • 1854 — First cotton mill started.
  • 1857 — University of Bombay established.
  • 1858 — The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China opens its Bombay branch.
  • 1864 — The Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (later merged with other railways to form Western Railway) is extended to Bombay.
  • 1870 — Bombay Port Trust formed.
  • 1872 — Bombay Municipal Corporation founded.
  • 1885 — Indian National Congress formed at Gowalia Tank Maidan.
  • 1887 — Victoria Jubilee Technological Institute (VJTI) established. First and only institute offering degree in engineering until 1960.
  • 1890 — Robert Harris, 4th Baron Harris arrives to take over as Governor of the Presidency of Bombay.
  • 1893 — Sectarian rioting between Hindus and Muslims.

20th century

  • 1900 — By this year, 45 trains of Western Railway in each direction were carrying over one million passengers annually.
  • 1911 — King George V and Queen Mary visit Bombay. Gateway of India is built to commemorate their arrival.
  • January 12, 1915 — Gandhi returns to India from South Africa at Mumbai.
  • January 22, 1926 — King Edward Memorial Hospital inaugurated.
  • July 15, 1926 — First motorised bus ran between Afghan church and Crawford Market.
  • 1928 — The first electric train runs between Churchgate and Borivali.
  • 1930 — Mumbai Cricket Association established.
  • October 15, 1932 — J. R. D. Tata flew from Karachi to Bombay via Ahmedabad landing on a grass strip at Juhu paving the way for civil aviation in India.
  • 1934 — UDCT established. First institute dedicated to research in Chemical Engineering in India.
  • August 8, 1942 — Quit India Movement declaration passed at Gowalia Tank Maidan.
  • April 14, 1944 — Massive explosion rocks Bombay Harbour killing scores of people, and debris falling more than 3 km away.
  • 1958 — IIT Bombay established in Powai.
  • 31 March 1964 — Last tram made its journey from Bori Bundar to Dadar.
  • December 1992 – January 1993 — Over 2000 people killed in Hindu-Muslim communal riots following the Babri Masjid destruction.
  • 1993 — Serial bomb blasts across Mumbai, masterminded by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, kill 300 and injure hundreds more.
  • 1995 — Bombay renamed to Mumbai. Subsequently University of Bombay renamed to University of Mumbai. [1]

21st century

  • August 25, 2003 — Two bombings by Islamist terrorists, allegedly connected to the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba, kill 48 and injure 150.
  • 2004 — The fourth World Social Forum held in Mumbai, from 16–21 January.
  • July 26—August 1, 2005 — Torrential July rains and flooding – the worst in 120 years – push the death toll to nearly 450. See 2005 Maharashtra floods.
  • July 11, 2006 — At least seven bombs exploded on trains in Mumbai, killing at least 207. See 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings.
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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Victoria Terminus, Bombay (CST, Mumbai)

Victoria Terminus, Bombay (CST, Mumbai)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), better known by its acronym VT (Veetee), is a historic railway station of the Mumbai suburban railway, as well as for some long-distance trains. It serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways in India and is one of the busiest railway stations in India. On July 2, 2004 the station was nominated a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. //

The structure

Victoria Station, Bombay, circa 1903

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Victoria Station, Bombay, circa 1903

View of the GPO end of CST.

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View of the GPO end of CST.

Inside Mumbai CST station

Inside Mumbai CST station

The station building, built in 1888, is a magnificent and ethereal building designed in the Gothic style of architecture. The building exhibits a fusion of influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Indian architecture. Internally, the wood carving, tiles, ornamental iron and brass railings, grills for the ticket offices, the balustrades for the grand staircases and other ornaments were the work of students at the Bombay School of Art. The station stands as an example of 19th century railway architectural marvels for its advanced structural and technical solutions.

History

The station was designed by Frederick William Stevens, a consulting architect in 1887-1888 for a princely sum of 16.14 lakhs in those days. Stevens earned the commission to construct the station after a masterpiece watercolour sketch by draughtsman Axel Herman. After earning the commission, Stevens went on a ten-month trip to Europe to make a detailed study of the stations there. St Pancras station in London bears some resemblance to Victoria Terminus.

It took 10 years to complete and was originally named “Victoria Terminus” in honour of the reigning Queen Victoria. In 1996, in response to demands by the Shiv Sena and in keeping with the policy of renaming locations with Indian names, the station was renamed by the state government after Chhatrapati Shivaji, a famed 17th century Maratha king. Since the moniker Victoria Terminus, or VT, has been long-standing, its use among the city inhabitants is still widespread.

Suburban Network

The network of suburban trains (locally known as locals, short for local trains) radiating out from this station is instrumental in keeping Mumbai running. The station operates long distance trains as well as two of the suburban lines-the main line and the harbour line. It is the westernmost endpoint of Central Railway.