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Mazgaon and Wadibunder

The word Mazagaon has been derived from the Sanskrit Matsya Gram, meaning fishing village. The original inhabitants were speculated to be tribals of Agari (salt-workers) and Koli (fishermen) tribes. However, folk etymology derives Mazagaon from the Marathi Maza Gaon, meaning my village. Another etymological claim suggests Portuguese origin, with the name borrowed from a city and fort of Mazagão in Morocco (now El Jadida) established by Portuguese in the beginning of the 16th century who totally evacuated to Brazil in 1769.

One of Mazagaon’s oldest claims to fame was a variety of mango trees, which fruited twice a year. These mangoes were a celebrated commodity, and the Mazgaon mangoes find a mention as the ‘Mangoes of Mazagong’ in the epic poem Lallah Rookh by Thomas Moore in 1817. The mangoes would be packed for Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Apparently a few such trees were extant well into the 20th century. The small island was rocky, with a hill rising at the north, and forming a cliff over the harbour. To see what Mazagaon might once have been, one has to visit any of the tiny rocky islands bearing mango trees and small villages further down the Konkan coast.

Once very fashionable, Mazgaon lost much of its charm after the more affluent British and Parsi residents relocated to Malabar Hill. Post independence, the area was generally considered to be a Catholic enclave.

Mazagaon is home to a large population of Catholics, Hindus, Parsis, Jews and other communities. With most Catholics migrating abroad, Muslims (particularly Dawoodi Bohras) have become the majority in terms of population, who have been moving from the more crowded neighbouring Bhindi Bazaar. They are developing many places in Mazgaon – Huge skyscrapers, newer architecture and spaces are replacing the old. It has virtually become a Bohra-Muslim neighbourhood.

A Catholic East Indian village can be found in the “Mathar Pacady” area. The migrants originally from Goa set up transit camps, which later became permanent residences. The Goan Clubs are an integral part of this area, which still function as transit houses for sailors and paid members.

Nearby lie the famous Mazagaon Docks, famed as a site of shipbuilding since the 18th century. It still builds warships for the Indian Navy and nearby is the Mazagaon Dock Colony which houses Angre House, Sarine House, Curry House and P & O Terrace. The Harbour Line station of Dockyard Road is the nearest railhead. The area is peaceful and quiet, unlike other parts of the city.


Mazgaon Docks

“These are the Docks on one side. It used to be Mahindra and Mohammed: J.C. Mahindra and K.C. Mahindra joined forces with Ghulam Mohammed and started Mahindra & Mohammed as a steel company in Mumbai. Two years later, India won its independence, Ghulam Mohammed left the company to become Pakistan’s first finance minister, and the Mahindra brothers ignited the company’s enduring growth with their decision to manufacture Willys jeeps in Mumbai. Soon, the company’s name changed to Mahindra & Mahindra…”

Mazagon Dock has come a long way from being a small repair yard in the late 18th century to the country’s leading Defence Shipyard capable of meeting the requirements of the Indian Navy towards its warship building programmes including submarines.  The current order book position makes MDL, one of the most loaded shipyards in the world.

Mazagon Dock Limited is the India’s premier shipyard constructing warships as well as offshore platforms.

The Yard was established in the 18th century, and over the 200 odd eventful years, has earned a reputation for quality work and established a tradition of skilled and resourceful service. After its takeover by the Government in 1960, Mazagon Dock grew rapidly to become the premier war-shipbuilding yard in India, producing sophisticated warships for the Navy and offshore structures for the ONGC. It has grown from a single unit, small ship repair company, into a multi-unit and multi-product company, with significant rise in production, use of modern technology and sophistication of products.

Main activities are ship building, ship repairs and fabrication of offshore structures with facilities situated at Mumbai and Nhava. We have the capability to build warships, submarines, merchant ships upto 30,000 DWT and fabrication of well head platforms, process and production platforms and jack up rigs. For outfitting work, the company has a large number of workshops with sophisticated equipment and machines specific to hull fabrication and ship construction work.



Hasanabad or Shah Hasan Ali’s Maqbara or Mausoleum is the resting place of 46th Imam – Aga Khan I, Imam of the Nizari Ismailite sect of the Shiite Muslims, circa 1884, Mazagaon.

Aga Khan, a resident of Iran arrived in Mumbai in 1846, and eventually became a permanent resident of the country and died in Mumbai in 1881. His funeral was attended by the consuls of Turkey and Iran as well as high-ranking British officials.

This marble mausoleum took a full three years to build and the minaret is said to be 19 feet high. A marble paean glows through the grime. Standing at the threshold of Hasanabad, it’s almost impossible to believe that this brilliant blue-domed building belongs to Mumbai. Its golden minarets evoke memories of Delhi or Hyderabad but not Mumbai’s Mazagaon.


Portuguese Bungalow:

The first Portuguese settlers were the Jesuits, who established a church in the 16th century. Notwithstanding their claim, in 1572 the King of Portugal granted the island in perpetuity to the de Souza e Lima family, from whom the D’Souzas of Mumbai trace their descent. When the Portuguese ceded the island to the British, there was a well-established population of Roman Catholics, mainly fishermen. Most were Hindu converts, although Eurasians were not uncommon. Some black African slaves brought by the Portuguese, known as Kaffirs, had also entered the ethnic mix. Some of their traditional wooden houses can still be seen, and are now protected heritage structures.

This site refers to one of the only four remaining original examples of Portuguese architecture. It is unoccupied except for Security guards.


Mathar Pacady Lane

Tucked away in a quiet corner of the concrete jungle is Matharpacady (pacadi means village in Marathi). Back in the early 1900, this quaint little pocket, in the heart of Mazagoan, was called Saiba Gulli as 90 per cent of the residents were Catholics. It has survived the ravages of time and today is close to disintegrating following the nexus between local politicians and the builder lobby that wants to construct apartment blocks here.

The place still has a very Goan-Portuguese feel. Most of the houses are more than a century old and cannot be demolished without government approval. However, a seven-storey building was recently built on the remains of a house whose inmates had all died. Although it falls in the Grade 3 category of protected monuments, residents know it’s easy to find legal loopholes.


Mathar Pacady Eyemard Cottage:

Eyemard Cottage has been renamed after St. Julian Eymard, the Apostle of the Eucharist.

Brother Peter Paul, who works in the office of the Blessed Sacrament Provincial Order, explains, “Many people died in the 1875 plague. Our prayers to the saint saved the remaining few. Along with his two brothers, he is immortalised in this building that came up on land donated by the Edward Miranda family in 2006. Young and old still pray here. But a well, built by the original settlers, was sealed after the 1992 communal riots.”

According to another resident John Borges who lives here in Matharpacady since 1958, there have been a few changes. Earlier they had the litanies in Latin; but keeping in tune with the times, the music has also changed. However, the essence of thanksgiving still remains the same. Now the younger generation actively participates for they feel it is an important part of their spiritual heritage and they want to keep in touch with their roots.

Matharpacady that was once beautiful with mango, plantain, and neem trees has turned into a dumping area with godowns, warehouses and garages in the vicinity. The lack of conservation knowledge, ill-advised repairs, loss of original building materials, unaffordable maintenance costs, threaten the survival of Matharpacady heritage village amidst the towering skyscrapers. There are now in Matharpacady three buildings – Manish Apartments, Monark Apartments and Sakhari Apartments which have come in place of some of the village’s original structures.

Matharpacady has been fast losing its identity and socio-cultural history of over 300-odd years. One wonders if Matharpacady will survive. There are talks of transforming Matharpacady into tourism region.


Mathar Pacady Club, Mathar Pacady

The Matharpacady Club, a grand 100 year old structure, is amid a pile of rubble now. The Club celebrated its centenary in 2006, but sadly before it could be protected under heritage listings, the Duartes who owned the place sold it to a builder.

The first floor of the club has been demolished and only the ground floor remains with legal dispute between the builder and the club management. They are not fighting the loss of heritage; they are in fact willing to let go of the place if they are given a similar 2,000 sq. ft. space in the new structure, a shop and Rs 30 lakh too.

When construction pits were excavated, electricity and water supply were cut off. Hence the senior citizens of the area abandoned their evening haunt. The club now looks like a broken-down old-age home where the card tables and carom boards gather dust. There is rubble everywhere and during monsoon rainwater pours in.


Mathar Pacady Oart Holy Cross Oratory

The 125-year chapel, Mathar Pacady Oart Holy Cross Oratory, stands tall. The feast of St Rock is celebrated here every year on May 1.

The residents built the Holy Cross Oratory in this village in the late 1890s when Bombay was struck by plague. They offered prayers to St Roque – the patron saint of epidemics, for the protection of their loved ones. And legend has it that not a single Mathar Pacady resident fell a prey to that epidemic.

The tradition of praying at the Holy Cross Oratory has been going on for more than a century and has been kept alive by the residents who gather every evening even today and offer prayers and thanksgiving for protecting them through good and bad times.

According to a resident St John Valladares, this faith in the Cross has been kept alive for 87 summers. Every year from April 22 onwards, the community gathers at the Cross for thanksgiving with a rosary, litanies to Our Lady, the Holy Cross and St Roque, that culminate into a feast of the Cross on May 1. Everyone from grandparents to toddlers – all join in the prayers; and it is a way of thanking God for the well-being of all. Prayers are also offered for a good monsoon, which is another tradition from the community’s farming days.

The Oratory falls in the Grade 3 category of protected monuments along with the rest of the Mathar Pacady area and is also deemed a World Heritage Site.


D’mello Road

The Docks were close by; if you see very closely, you will find names of the streets named as Karvad street, Kalyan street, Kochin street, Ahmedabad street etc. based on where the goods were coming from. Wadibunder was supposed to be the area where shipment goods were taken inside and outside the docks, now that the containers have come, the whole thing has changed.

Some of the Warehouses are more than 150 years old, and most of them would be demolished soon in the coming years due to expansion and development and progress. Now there is heavy encroachment. Earlier there was a greater volume of slums, now in the last 4 to 5 years most of them have been removed.

If you stand in front of Burma Shell Petrol, you see they had this bogey sort of a thing. You will see that the railways containers were only for oil and petrol, which went inside the docks and came out only carrying oil. Now, Its not being used much, because you see, earlier, the trams were there, you had the crossway going in the afternoon and in the mornings and the entire traffic used to stop. Now the partition has come up.


BPT Railway Tracks 

So these tracks were part of the BPT Railways, which were functional before the other suburban railway lines. Earlier there were lots of them, now they have kept only one line, and its not really functional. They have built the BPT Road over what were the railway lines (tracks). These railways were started in the 1915, much before the Central or the Western railways.

There were so many trains, they even had a turntable, to keep the bogey or container on it, and whichever line you wanted to take, it could be rotated to match that.We spent our childhood playing in the rail yard. We used to play cricket there, we used to fly kites, even catch kites there. But all the railways are gone now.

There was one train they had which started from Apollo Bunder, where you got off a ship and directly took a train, which took you to Delhi, or wherever in the frontiers. That is also how the railways was used back then. When M. K. Gandhi came back from South Africa, he would have come by ship here in Bombay; the ticket for the ship and the train were same.


Koli House

Kolbhat, Palva Bunder, Dongri, Mazgaon, Naigaum and Worli were among the islands the Kolis gave their names to. Kolbhat was distorted to Colaba; Palva Bunder became Apollo Bunder. The temple to Mumbadevi in Dongri gave rise to the name of the city. One of the smaller islands near Colaba, variously called Old Man’s Island and Old Woman’s Island, was a distortion of the Arab name Al-Omani, given for the same fishermen who ranged as far away as the gulf of Oman.

In Marathi, Koli means the originally heterogeneous marginal tribe-castes that took late in history to agriculture and were often press-ganged for porterage in army service. The same word also means spider and fisherman, presumably because the fisherman makes and uses a net to catch his prey as a spider his web.

With settlements dating back at least 400 years, the Kolis were the earliest inhabitants of the archipelago now known as Mumbai. They are thought to be members of the Kul tribe, which migrated from the mainland mass of Aparanta at beginning of Christian era or earlier. Kolis occupied the islands in successive waves and engaged in husbandry and fishing.

Around 38 Koliwadas exist in the region today, having survived periods of Hindu colonization around the end of the 13th century, Muslim rule until the mid-16th century, foreign colonization first by the Portuguese and then by the British, and the explosive expansion of modern Mumbai.

“This Mazgaon Koliwada house, is a particular architecture of the time. People built their own houses. The only kind of common feature you will find with most of these kind of houses is the wooden ‘V’ or the upside down ‘V’ and the grills. It is called Vaithi House, and the people who stay were Koli. This is a typical Koli building; In Yari Road, there still exist other types of Koli buildings and the Koli Houses – small houses, with the balcony belongs to the beginning of the 20th century, and the grills particularly reminiscent of the time. A consistent feature of these houses are verandahs with photographs of their family members on display.”

Behind the House is the Naqwa Road, named after the Koli figure Narsool Naqwa. They would get one of the Larger and spectacular Ganpatis of the area, which would be a major attraction of the time. They are fisherfolk, there family would sell fish, and the sons or the newer generation, which were highly educated, went to the best of schools. Their son was in school with me initially and then he went to Saint Mary’s. This is not their house, but the one behind this Koli House.”

The Kolis’ close connection with the history of Mumbai is evident in the city’s place names. The city’s original name of “Manbai,” “Mambai,” or “Mumbai” by some accounts derives from “Mumbadevi,” the patron deity of the Kolis. The earliest settlements in Mumbai were the koliwadis, which were named after local trees or other natural elements, as Kolis were then nature and tree-worshipers. For example, “Parel” is said to derive from “Padel,” the local name of a trumpet-flower tree. “Colaba,” Mumbai’s primary tourist and historical center, derives from “Kola-bhat,” which means “Koli estates.”

In the 17th century, Queen Elizabeth formally bestowed land tenure to the “Kolis of Dharavi,” an event commemorated in documents and a copper plate currently housed in a Mumbai museum. The Queen also gifted pistols to three Koli residents — Banduk Patil, Bapuram Koli and Kuptun Mangalaya Koli — as security against pirates that used to rob fishing boats.

The development of the modern city slowly marginalised these people of the sea. By 1770, they were already removed from Dongri by the East India Company. This historical process of elimination eventually pushed them to the strand near Cuffe Parade, from where they plied their ancient trade of deep-water fishing. The Backbay reclamation of the 60’s would have further marginalised them had they not approached the courts to stay the reclamation. Now their settlements are protected by law.


Mazgaon Gardens

The Joseph Baptista Gardens, locally known as the Mazagaon Gardens, is a 1.5 acres (0.6 ha) park in south Mumbai in Mazagaon.[1] It lies atop a hill, the Bhandarwada Hill, and offers a panoramic view of the Mumbai harbour and the southern business district of the city. Beneath the gardens is a water reservoir, constructed by the second Municipal Commissioner of Bombay, John Hay Grant between 1880–1884. The gardens are located behind the Dockyard Road railway station, at an altitude of 32 metres (105 ft). Shortly after India’s independence in 1947, the gardens, was named after Joseph Baptista, an Indian freedom activist.


Old Gloria Church Cross in BPT Area

The original Gloria church, Nossa Senhora da Glória, was built in 1632 from a donation by the de Souza family. It was destroyed in 1911, being replaced two years later by a new Gothic church of the same name built a opposite the Byculla Railway Station, a kilometer away. When a Church is shifted, The Cross is replaced. So what remains to commemorate the original location of the Old Church is the original Cross, revered and maintained by a small Catholic community living in Bob’s Bungalow in front of the Site.


Barber Shops, Dockyard Road Station

These Barbershops are a historic landmark of Dockyard Road. Built under the Railway Bridge, these shops are atleast 100 years old. They are the descendants of the Barbershops near the Docks that specialized in the facilities of Hamaams. The Hamaams may be gone but these shops still service a lot of clientele that comes from the docks.

People used to come very early morning to work at the Docks, or very late in the evening from it. Once upon a time, everywhere under a brigde you could find Barbers, the fact that they still exist is a big thing. They have been there for more than 80 to 90 years. There used to also be Saloons, some of which had their own Hamams, but now they no longer exist.


Ashok Karande, Cobbler, Mathar Pakadi:

There are no commercial establishments in Mathar Pacady. The only exception is the decrepit shop of cobbler Ashok Karande, built by his forefathers more than 100 years ago. He has been managing it since the 1970s.


Priest at Patel Agiyari, Mazgaon Village

The Parsi Agiary is the oldest agiary of Mathar Pakardi. The Parsis were very fashionable people, whenever you come to the Agiary, you find the latest and the faciest cars, or a motorbike etc.

Mazagaon was occupied by the Sidi оf Janjira, an admiral in the Mughal navy in 1690. It is said that he was driven away а year later by the Rustomji Dorabji, who organised the fishermen in Dongri into а fleet. Rustomji was given the title Patel after this feat, and his descendants have remained the only Parsi family of Patels.


The Chinese in Mumbai

In the early 19th century, hundreds of Chinese labourers joined the East India Company, working as welders, fitters, carpenters and cooks at its operations in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Bombay (now Mumbai). The Company used to hire mainly Cantonese from Hong Kong, who were brought by ship to India, while others crossed the border into India from Burma.

In 1820, Kolkata was home to an estimated 50,000 Chinese nationals. In those simpler times, there was no need for passports and visas, and skilled people could migrate to wherever they found employment.

The Chinese in India came from all over the Middle Kingdom — Canton (now Guangdong) in the south; Hupeh (Hubei), a central province; the Hakka, who were originally from the northern provinces, but later migrated all over China; and Shantung (now Shandong), an eastern province.

But almost 200 years after large-scale migration of Chinese began to India, the community has dwindled significantly. According to Tulun Chen, Mumbai-based chairman of the Maharashtra Chinese Association, there are just around 3,500 Chinese in Mumbai, down from an estimated 15,000 in the mid-1960s.

“The Chinese are very few in number now, as a matter of fact, up to 1961 hey were good in number, and after the Chinese War they were detained in, or sent to concentration camps to Devlali, Ahmednagar, Ahmedabad and so many other places. The ones who remained left for Hongkong, Canada and so many other places.

Before 1961, you could see a lot of Chinese on the roads, and is you saw one, you would see that they would wear there one style of clothes, Chinese style clothes, and the child would be behind the back and the foot size would be very very small because the Chinese said that if you are beautiful, it means you have very small feet.

The temple now has become a bit famous, because now people are talking about it, newspapers are covering it, the festival is covered, and every year is the year of a different animal in the Chinese religion, which is celebrated accordingly. Most of the Chinese today are working as hairdressers, or working in a restaurant. “

Sadly, while bustling Chinatowns can be found in many parts of the world — including the US — in India, they are on the decline. Mumbai does not have a Chinatown as it did at the time of Independence. The Chinese came to Mumbai in the early part of the 19th century settled around the Mazgaon docks area in south-central Mumbai, and established a temple (the Kwan Tai Shek) and a cemetery. By the 1850s, the Chinese moved to other localities, including Byculla and Kamathipura. The latter became a notorious red light district, and is today one of the largest and oldest in Asia.

“There used to be a Chinatown in Shooklajee Street, where a lot of Chinese were staying; and if you go to Grant Road or to Falkland Road, there were a lot of Chinese dentists, now you don’t see them anymore. Only one or two are there, and there children have also become dentists, and they speak very good Hindi and Marathi; They have blended themselves very well, but you can make them out because they look different from us. “

The Chinese-Indian community has traditionally specialised in a handful of professions, and even today most of the surviving members can be found in these crafts: foods and beverages (restaurants), dentistry, hair salons and shoemaking.

Says Ryan Tham, 27, a descendant of a prominent Chinese-Indian family: “There are about four families in Mumbai that run Chinese restaurants: the Wangs, the Chens, the Nankings and the Thams.”

Tham’s grandfather was born in Kolkata, and moved to Mumbai about 60 years ago. In 1962, he launched Kokwah, the first cabaret venue in India. Later, he opened the Mandarin, near the Gateway of India. His son Henry, who married a Bengali, sent his two sons — Ryan and Keenan — to Australia for higher studies. For several years, the family also ran the famous Thams salon, near the Taj Mahal hotel. Henry and his two sons now run Henry Tham, a fine-dining resto-bar in Colaba.

“We have been in the food and beverages business for the past 50 years,” explains the young Tham, who is often seen in celebrity circles and exclusive parties. “But I consider myself more Indian than Chinese. I am fluent in Hindi and Marathi and completed my schooling in Mumbai.”

Agnes Chen is another third-generation Chinese-Indian who feels more Indian than Chinese. Born in Kolkata, she was educated at the Loreto Convent and is fluent in Bengali, English, Hindi and French. “We are Chinese genetically, but in all other respects we are Indian,” says Agnes, who moved to Mumbai 13 years ago. “About 70 per cent of the younger generation Chinese-Indians have migrated to countries like Canada, the US and Australia,” explains Anges.

“I was too busy with my career and did not get the time to migrate,” she smiles. A hairstylist and dresser, she has worked for several multinationals, including L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Wella. She has lived in London and Paris, travelled across the world organising hair fashion shows, and has also trained over 10,000 hairdressers.

Today, she runs her own hair salon, Butterfly Pond, located in the over-100-year-old heritage building, Royal Terrace. Agnes points out that the overseas Chinese community is usually very enterprising, and most Chinese-Indians have set up their own businesses. Unlike many Chinese-Indians, she entered into an arranged marriage with another Chinese from Kolkata. Her nine-year-old daughter, a fourth-generation Chinese, was born in Mumbai.

Edward Wang, another young third-generation Chinese-Indian, is also extremely busy, expanding and modernising the restaurant — China Garden — which his father started in Mumbai. What does he think about young Chinese in India and their social interactions? “I don’t have a single Chinese friend, though I have a few acquaintances,” explains the 32-year-old. According to him, there is an increasing trend of Chinese marrying Indians

“Two sons of one my employees married Indian girls. Another employee’s son married a Nepali girl,” says Wang, who is single. His father, Nelson Wang, started life as a shoemaker in Hyderabad. He came to Mumbai with less than Rs50, and began working at a restaurant. He pioneered the concept of Indian-Chinese cuisine, creating dishes like Chicken Manchurian. Other restaurateurs have honed these skills, churning out meals like Gobi Manchurian, Chinese-bhel and chilli-fried tofu.

While many young Chinese-Indians have chosen to migrate to the West or Australia and New Zealand, there is a clutch of professionals who continue to thrive in India and have no plans to leave the land their forefathers made their home 200 years ago.


The Legend of Miao Shan or the Goddess of Mercy:

Once upon a time in China, there was a tyrant king named Miao Zhang who had no respect for religion. He had three daughters, of which the youngest was named Miao Shan. At the time of Miao Shan’s birth the Earth trembled and wonderful fragrance of flower blossoms sprang up around the land. The people of the kingdom said that they saw the signs of a holy incarnation on her body.

Miao Shan grew up to be kind and generous and was loved by all. When Miao Shan got older the king wanted to find a husband for her, she told her father she would only marry if by doing so she would be able to alleviate the suffering of all mankind. The king became enraged when she heard of her devotion to helping others, and forced her to slave away at menial tasks. Her mother and two sisters admonished her to no avail. They were very mean to Miao Shan, making her work all day cleaning, sewing, and cooking. She tried her best to make them happy.

To increase her punishment, the king decided to let her pursue her religious calling at a monastery but ordered the nuns there to treat her so badly she would change her mind. She was forced to collect wood and water and tend a garden for the kitchen; they thought this would be impossible, since the land around the monastery was barren. To everyone’s amazement, the garden flourished, even in winter, and a spring welled up out of nowhere next to the kitchen. When the king heard about this miracle, he decided he was going to kill Miao Chan after all, as well as the nuns who were supposed to have tormented her. As his henchmen arrived at the monastery, a spirit arose out of the fog of clouds and carried her away to safety on a remote island. She lived there on her own for many years, pursuing a life of religious dedication.

Several years later, her father became seriously ill. His doctors, having tried everything, believed he would certainly die. Just as everyone was about to lose hope, a monk arrived in the kingdom to visit the ailing king. The monk promised cure the king but to make the medicine he would have to grind the arms and eyes of one free from hatred. The king thought this was impossible, but the monk assured him that there was a Bodhisattva living in the king’s domain who would gladly surrender.

The King sent an envoy to find this unknown Bodhisattva. When the envoy made the request Miao Shan gladly cut her eyes and severed her arms. The envoy returned and the monk made the medicine. The king instantly recovered. When the king thanked the monk, the chastised the king by saying, “ You should thank the one who gave her eyes and arms.” Saying this the monk disappeared. The king believed this was divine intervention and left with his family to find and thank the unknown Bodhisattva. When the royal family arrived, they realized it was their daughter Miao Shan who had made the sacrifice. Sensing their presence, Miao Shan spoke, “Mindful of my father’s love, I have repaid with my eyes and arms.” With eyes full of tears and hearts full of shame, the family gathered to hug Miao Shan. As they did so, auspicious clouds formed around Miao Shan, the Earth trembled, flowers rained down and a holy manifestation of the Thousand Eyes and the Thousand Arms appeared hovering in the air, and then the Bodhisattva was gone.

To honour Miao Shan and her love and compassion, the royal family built a shrine on the spot, which is now known as Fragrant Mountain.


Select History of Mumbai:

  • After the end of the Bahamani Sultanate, Bahadur Khan Gilani and Mahmud Gavan (1482–1518) broke out in rebellion at the port of Dabhol and conquered the islands along with the whole of Konkan. Portuguese explorer Francisco de Almeida‘s ship sailed into the deep natural harbour of the island in 1508, and he called it Bom Bahia (Good Bay). However, the Portuguese paid their first visit to the islands on 21 January 1509, when they landed at Mahim after capturing a Gujarat barge in the Mahim creek. After a series of attacks by the Gujarat Sultanate, the islands were recaptured by Sultan Bahadur Shah.
  • In 1526, the Portuguese established their factory at Bassein.
  • During 1528–29, Lopo Vaz de Sampaio seized the fort of Mahim from the Gujarat Sultanate, when the King was at war with Nizam-ul-mulk, the emperor of Chaul, a town south of the islands. Bahadur Shah had grown apprehensive of the power of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and he was obliged to sign the Treaty of Bassein with the Portuguese on 23 December 1534. According to the treaty, the islands of Mumbai and Bassein were offered to the Portuguese. Bassein and the seven islands were surrendered later by a treaty of peace and commerce between Bahadur Shah and Nuno da Cunha, Viceroy of Portuguese India, on 25 October 1535, ending the Islamic rule in Mumbai.
  • Mazagaon was granted to Antonio Pessoa in 1547.
  • After Antonio Pessoa’s death in 1571, a patent was issued which granted Mazagaon in perpetuity to the Sousa e Lima family.
  • When the Portuguese ceded the island to the English, there was a well-established population of Roman Catholics, mainly fishermen. Most were Hindu converts, although Eurasians were not uncommon. Some black African slaves brought by the Portuguese, known as Kaffirs, had also entered the ethnic mix. Some of their traditional wooden houses can still be seen, and are now protected heritage structures.
  • The annexation of Portugal by Spain in 1580 opened the way for other European powers to follow the spice routes to India. The Dutch arrived first, closely followed by the British. The first English merchants arrived in Bombay in November 1583.
  • The Battle of Swally was fought between the British and the Portuguese at Surat in 1612 for the possession of Bombay.
  • The original Gloria church, Nossa Senhora da Glória, was built in 1632 from a donation by the de Souza family.
  • Dorabji Nanabhoy, a trader, was the first Parsi to settle in Bombay in 1640.
  • The growing power of the Dutch by the middle of the seventeenth century forced the Surat Council of the British Empire to acquire Bombay from King John IV of Portugal in 1659. The marriage treaty of Charles II of England and Catherine of Portugal on 8 May 1661 placed Bombay in British possession as a part of Catherine’s dowry to Charles.
  • On 19 March 1662, Abraham Shipman was appointed the first Governor and General of the city, and his fleet arrived in Bombay in September and October 1662. On being asked to hand over Bombay and Salsette to the English, the Portuguese Governor contended that the island of Bombay alone had been ceded, and alleging irregularity in the patent, he refused to give up even Bombay.
  • In November 1664, Shipman’s successor Humphrey Cooke agreed to accept Bombay without its dependencies. However, Salsette, Mazagaon, Parel, Worli, Sion, Dharavi, and Wadala still remained under Portuguese possession.
  • On 21 September 1668, the Royal Charter of 27 March 1668, led to the transfer of Bombay from Charles II to the English East India Company for an annual rent of £10 (equivalent retail price index of £1,226 in 2007).[
  • Gerald Aungier, who was appointed Governor of Bombay on July 1669, established the first mint in Bombay in 1670. He offered various business incentives, which attracted Parsis, Goans, Jews, Dawoodi Bohras, Gujarati Banias from Surat and Diu, and Brahmins from Salsette. He also planned extensive fortifications in the city from Dongri in the north to Mendham’s Point (near present day Lion Gate) in the south.
  • The harbour was also developed during his governorship, with space for the berthing of 20 ships.
  • Mazagaon was occupied by the Sidi of Janjira, an admiral in the Mughal navy in 1690. It is said that he was driven away a year later by the Rustomji Dorabji, who organised the fishermen in Dongri into a fleet. Rustomji was given the title Patel after this feat, and his descendants have remained the only Parsi family of Patels.
  • Yakut Khan, the Siddi admiral of the Mughal Empire, landed at Bombay in October 1672 and ravaged the local inhabitants there.
  • The British selected Bhandarwala Hill, a basalt rocky outcrop as a site for the Mazagon Fort that was built in 1680.
  • In 1686, the Company shifted its main holdings from Surat to Bombay, which had become the administrative centre of all the west coast settlements then. Bombay was placed at the head of all the Company’s establishments in India.
  • Yakut Khan landed at Sewri on 14 February 1689, and razed the Mazagon Fort in June 1690. After a payment made by the British to Aurangzeb, the ruler of the Mughal Empire, Yakut evacuated Bombay on 8 June 1690.
  • By 26 December 1715, Charles Boone assumed the Governorship of Bombay. He implemented Aungier’s plans for the fortification of the island, and had walls built from Dongri in the north to Mendham’s point in the south.
  • The shipbuilding industry started in Bombay in 1735 and soon the Naval Dockyard was established in the same year.
  • Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia, a member of the Wadia family of shipwrights and naval architects from Surat, built the Bombay Dock in 1750, which was the first dry dock to be commissioned in Asia.
  • By the middle of the eighteenth century, Bombay began to grow into a major trading town and soon Bhandaris from Chaul in Maharashtra, Vanjaris from the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Maharashtra, Africans from Madagascar, Bhatias from Rajasthan, Vaishya Vanis, Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Daivajnas from konkan, ironsmiths and weavers from Gujarat migrated to the islands.
  • Bungalows and plantations also grew up in Mazagaon as the British and the more affluent Indians moved out of the crowded fort. When the Esplanade was cleared in the Fort area, the armoury moved from Bombay Castle to Mazagaon in 1760 and gave its name to Gunpowder Lane.
  • In 1769, Fort George was built on the site of the Dongri Fort and in 1770, the Mazagaon docks were built.
  • In 1782, William Hornby assumed the office of Governor of Bombay, and initiated the Hornby Vellard engineering project of uniting the seven islands into a single landmass. The purpose of this project was to block the Worli creek and prevent the low-lying areas of Bombay from being flooded at high tide. However, the project was rejected by the British East India Company in 1783. In 1784, the Hornby Vellard project was completed and soon reclamations at Worli and Mahalaxmi followed.
  • In 1795, the Maratha army defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad. Following this, many artisans and construction workers from Andhra Pradesh migrated to Bombay and settled into the flats which were constructed by Hornby Vellard. These workers where called Kamathis, and their enclave was called Kamathipura.
  • On 17 February 1803, a fire raged through the town, razing many localities around the Old Fort, subsequently the British had to plan a new town with wider roads.
  • On May 1804, Bombay was hit by a severe famine, which led to a large-scale emigration.
  • By 1830, regular communication with England started by steamers navigating the Red and Mediterranean Sea.
  • The first-ever Indian railway line began operations between Bombay and neighbouring Thane over a distance of 21 miles on 16 April 1853.
  • The Victoria Gardens was opened to the public in 1862.
  • The Bombay Shipping and Iron Shipping Companies were started in 1863 to make Bombay merchants independent of the English.
  • The Bombay Municipal Corporation was established in 1872, providing a modern framework of governance for the rapidly growing city.
  • The Bombay Port Trust was promulgated in 1870 for the development and administration of the port.
  • Tramway communication was instituted in 1873. The Bombay Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), originally set up as a tramway company: Bombay Tramway Company Limited, was established in 1873.
  • In 1884, to address the shortage of potable water in the city, several hills were selected as storage tanks by the civic administration. Water from the Vihar Lake was pumped to the Bhandarwada Hill reservoir, which was then distributed to the city. Over it the John Hay Grant Park was built.
  • The Princess Dock was built in 1885 as part of a scheme for improving the whole foreshore of the Bombay harbour.
  • In September 1896 the first case of Bubonic plague was detected in Mandvi, an area in South Mumbai near Masjid Bunder, by Dr. Acacio Gabriel Viegas. It spread rapidly to other parts of the city, and the death toll was estimated at 1,900 people per week through the rest of the year. Around 850,000, amounting to half of the population, fled Bombay during this time. Dr Viegas correctly diagnosed the disease as Bubonic Plague and tended to patients with great personal risk. He then launched a vociferous campaign to clean up slums and exterminate rats, the carriers of the fleas which spread the plague bacterium. To confirm Veigas’ findings, 4 teams of independent experts were brought in. With his diagnosis proving to be correct, the Governor of Bombay invited Dr W M Haffkine, who had earlier formulated a vaccine for cholera, do the same for the epidemic.
  • On 9 March 1898, there was a serious riot which started with a sudden outbreak of hostility against the measures adopted by Government for suppression of plague. The riot led to a strike of dock and railway workers which paralysed the city for a few days. The significant results of the plague was the creation of the Bombay City Improvement Trust on 9 December 1898 and the Haffkine Institute on 10 January 1899 by Waldemar Haffkine..
  • Those who could afford it tried to avoid the plague by moving out of the city. Jamsetji Tata tried to open up the northern suburbs to accommodate such people. The brunt of the plague was borne by mill workers. The anti-plague activities of the health department involved police searches, isolation of the sick, detention in camps of travellers and forced evacuation of residents in parts of the city. These measures were widely regarded as offensive and as alarming as the rats.
  • In 1900, the mortality rate from plague was about 22 per thousand. In the same year, the corresponding rates from tuberculosis were 12 per thousand, from cholera about 14 per thousand, and about 22 per thousand from various other illnesses classified as “fevers”. The plague was fearsome only because it was apparently contagious. More mundane diseases took a larger toll.
  • The cotton mill industry was adversely affected during 1900 and 1901 due to the flight of workers because of the plague.
  • In the census of 1901, the population had actually fallen to 780,000
  • On 22 July 1908, Lokmanya Tilak, the principal advocate of the Swadeshi movement in Bombay, was sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment, on the charge of writing inflammatory articles against the Government in his newspaper Kesari. The arrest led to huge scale protests across the city. The case was tried by Advocare Joseph Baptista, a fellow freedom fighter and resident of Mathar Pacady. In 1925, Baptista was elected as the Mayor of the Bombay Municipal Corporation.
  • The original Gloria church, Nossa Senhora da Glória was destroyed in 1911, being replaced two years later by a new Gothic church of the same name built a kilometer.
  • The worldwide influenza epidemic raged through Bombay from September to December 1918, causing hundreds of deaths per day.
  • The neo-classical Tarala, built by a member of the Wadia family in the late 18th century was sold to the Jeejeebhoy family about a century later. It became the Sadar Adalat in 1925, when they moved out to Malabar Hill.
  • In 1925, the capacity for The Bhandarwada Hill reservoir was increased to 20,000,000 imperial gallons (90,900,000 l).
  • In 1926, the Back Bay scandal occurred, when the Bombay Development Department under the British reclaimed the Back Bay area in Bombay after the financial crisis incidental to the post-war slump in the city.
  • The Sadar Adalat was taken over by the army, and then donated to the J. J. Hospital in 1943 after a fire. It was used as a staff hostel for a few years before it was demolished.

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