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Formerly known as Mumbai it is the commercial & financial capital city of India. This port city (India's largest and busiest) accounts for a major share of the government's revenue, and has one of the world's largest harbour. In a recent survey of cities compiled, Mumbai is the fifth most expensive city in the world. 40% of this island city consists of reclaimed land from the sea.
This mega cosmopolitan city is a city of contrasts. The deceptively calm sea, its beaches and fishing boats, give lie to a city, which is bursting at its seams with population, pollution and space.
Over 60% of air pollution is due to the 7 lakh vehicles on the roads.
Space constraints have given rise to towering skyscrapers standing majestically next to sprawling slums ( Dharavi -Asia's biggest slum is here). Haute cuisine besides hawker stalls. World renowned designer labels and brands to exquisite made in India items.
People of various caste, culture, and religion inhabit the city, and due to this diversification the customs, languages, and even the food is of infinite variety. The language spoken here is Hindi & Hinglish which is street speak and slang a mixture of Hindi & English. The official state language though is Marathi. The city is multi religious, multi cultural, multilingual.
Bombay was originally a cluster of seven Koli islands inhabited by fishermen. These islands were a part of Gujarat. When the Muslim ruler Sultan Muhamed Begada captured the islands, Bombay was till then inhabited by the Hindus. Vasco da Gama a Portuguese was the first man to discover the sea route to Bombay.
After repeated attacks, the Sultan of Gujarat handed over the islands to the Portuguese in 1534.
The Portuguese could not find any use for them and in1661 the island of Bombay was given to Charles 11 of England as part of the dowry when he got married to Catherine of Braganza., sister of the Portuguese king.
A few years later Charles 11 took possession of the remaining islands. In 1668,the East India Company a trading company based in Surat (Gujarat), took over on lease the island of Bombay due to its strategic location and port advantage, Bombay soon became an important trading port. Development and reclamation started and the then Governor Gerald Aungier (1672-1677) encouraged business men from all over to come and settle. Historians have given him the title of "Father of Bombay" because it was in this period Bombay boomed. to become a prime commercial centre..
The Zorastrian Parsis were the first to arrive and settle and build their first tower of silence in 1675. Many streets are named after successful Parsi businessmen, industrialist and philanthropists. Among them the Tata’s are most famous. Air India was set up by JRD Tata and Hotel TajMahal stands as a great memorial to his father. Then came the Hindus, Goan Catholics, and the Muslims. In 1687 the presidency of the East India Company shifted from Surat to Bombay and finally in 1708 Bombay became it’s headquarter. By the 18th century the population had grown and basic amenities and public services introduced like piped water supply, Hospitals, Railways ,Tramcars, Courts , Mint, etc. The Victoria Terminus Railway Station was made in 1887, designed by F. W. Stevens and built in Gothic style.
Till today it is one of the most imposing and impressive structures and the credit for this plus other Gothic structures goes to the then governor Sir Bartle Frere who took a keen interest in the making of Bombay. Most of the impressive buildings were made between the years 1860-1900 like the GPO, Offices, Banks, Tourist offices and two of the main railway stations .By 1862 the seven islands had joined together to form one huge mass of land .The arrival of the Great Indian Peninsular Railways signaled improved communications.
The American civil war gave a further boost to the cotton and textile industry, which emerged as the main manufacturing activity. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 Bombay prospered as an International port, and reinforced its position as a major commercial and industrial center in India.
When India became Independent in 1947 Bombay became the capital of Bombay state. In 1960 Bombay state was dissolved and the state of Maharashtra came into being, with Bombay as its state capital.In 1995 Bombay changed its name to Mumbai. The name Mumbai is derived from "Mumbadevi" the patron goddess of the Koli fisher folks, the earliest known inhabitants.
Mumbai lies on India's west coast in the state of Maharashtra facing the Arabian sea. The city occupies an area of 440 sq km. One fourth of the city lies below sea level. The city is covered by two ridges of low hills on Colaba's east and west forming a barrier of sorts from the open sea .The other ridge ends up at Malabar Hill 180ft above sea level, which is also Mumbai's highest point. In between these two ridges directly north of Colaba lies the bustling area of fort.
The buildings here are of British era and built in Gothic style. The two main stations VT (now known as CST) and Churchgate, the India Government Mint, the Reserve Bank, the General Post Office, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Tourist office, private offices, banks etc.are all located here.
At the southern end is also Nariman Point, the land was reclaimed from the sea to house the modern business center of Mumbai. Considered by many as "Manhattan" it has many high rise office buildings. To the north of the city are the two Airports, the International, the other Domestic.
Mumbai's island location has constrained its ability to spread and grow over a wide area. Consequently high rise skyscrapers dominated the skyline until the city reached a saturated point. The idea of a twin city was mooted by the town planners. New Bombay lies to the north east of Bombay and covers an area of 345 sq km.
Besides being the financial & commercial capital, it has one of the largest cotton textile industries in the country. The biggest & busiest port in India. It has the largest source of oil and natural Gas. The largest stock exchange in India, and third largest exchange in the world! Mumbai is also the capital of India's Pharmaceutical Trade and Industry The city is a transit point- manufactured medicines come into the city from all over India and are stored in what are called central depots from where they are redistributed all over the country. Many multinationals & mega corporate head offices are located here, and the largest motion picture Industry in the world is here!
The city is known for creating wealth, from the busy business tycoons to the beggars in the street everyone gets his share of the pie. 40% of India's GNP, is generated from this city. Its port handles 50% of the country's foreign trade. 40% of India's textile industry, and its citizens pay 1/3 of India's Income tax!
Majorities of the people here are Hindus, followed by Muslims, Parsis, & Christians. The city has a growing population of 15 million. Due to the high level of congestion, population has grown in the suburbs and in Navi Mumbai particularly The city attracts a large number of migrants from the state and other parts of the country, specially from rural states
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