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the suburb of Mazagon, were engaged in fishing. The Portuguese still


had several churches on the island. Between Parel and Mahim, the
sea had made a wide breach, drowning 40,000 acres of good land. But
the most striking point in all the early accounts is the excessive un-
healthiness of the place, which cannot be attributed solely to the mode
of life of the residents. Fryer declares it as his opinion that out of
every 500 Europeans who came to live on the island, not 100 left it.
A current proverb affirmed that two monsoons (or rainy seasons) were
the age of a man. The most fatal disease, called by the Portuguese
practitioners ' the Chinese death,' has been identified with cholera.
The name arose, apparently, from a fanciful French or Latin etymology
for the ' mordexim ' or ' mor-de-chin] the old west-coast term for cholera.
Garcia d'Orta (1568) distinctly states that it was an Indian word,
morxi. It is, in fact, a corruption of the Marathi and Konkani words
modachi and modshi, meaning cholera.

In Fryer's time (1673) the factory of Surat, established sixty years
before the cession of Bombay, was the chief possession of the East
India Company in Western India. Bombay itself was exposed to the
ill-will of the Portuguese on Salsette island, who were able to cut off all
direct communication with the mainland. The most formidable enemy,
however, was the Sfdi or Abyssinian admiral of the Mughal fleet, whose
descendants are represented at the present day by the Nawab of Janjira.
In 1668, the Sidi wintered at Mazagon, and laid siege to Bombay castle;
and the town was only saved by a direct appeal to the Emperor.
During this period also, the English in India were greatly hampered by
domestic dissensions. In 1684, orders were received to transfer the
chief seat of the Company's trade from Surat to Bombay, and the transfer
had been effected by 1687. In 1708, the two Companies privileged to
trade with the East were fused into the United East India Company,
and Bombay was chosen as the seat of one of the three independent
Presidencies, each of which was ruled over by a Governor-in-Council.
It was not till 1773 that Bombay was subjected to the control of the
Governor-General. Henceforth the history of Bombay city merges
into that of the Presidency. The only event that need be specially
recorded is the first Maratha war (1774-1782), which resulted, after
many military vicissitudes, in the permanent occupation by the English
of all the Bombay group of islands, and of the town of Thana on the
mainland. The city had long been a refuge for the fugitives from
Maratha oppression, who could there alone find safety for their industry
and commerce; but after the downfall of the Peshwa in 1818, Bombay
became the capital of a large territory, and from that year may be dated
her pre-eminence in Western India. She was especially fortunate in
her early governors. From 181 9 to 1830, she was ruled successively by
the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone and Sir John Malcolm. The first
founded the present system of administration; the second, by opening


the road through the Bhor-Ghat, broke down the natural barrier that
separated the sea-coast from the table-land of the Deccan. The next
stage in the course of onward prosperity was reached when Bombay
was brought into direct communication with Europe through the
energy and exertions of Lieutenant Waghorn, the pioneer of the
Overland Route. In the early years of the present century, express
couriers or adventurous travellers used sometimes to make their way to
or from India across the isthmus of Suez, or occasionally even through
Persia. A monthly mail service was commenced by way of Egypt in
1838, and the contract w r as first taken up by the Peninsular and
Oriental Company in 1855. Bombay is now recognised as the one
port of arrival and departure for all the English mails, and also for the
troopships of the Indian army. But the city could not have attained
this position, if the means of communication on the landward side had
not received a corresponding development. In 1850, the first sod
was turned of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, and three years
afterwards the line was opened as far as Thana, the first railway in
the country. By 1863, the railway had been led up the formidable
Bhor-Ghat to Poona, by a triumph of engineering skill. In 1870,
through communication was established with Calcutta, in 187 1 with
Madras. The city has a successful tramway system. There is now a
prospect of more direct railway communication being established, rid
N^gpur in the Central Provinces, with Calcutta.

But it is not only as the capital of a Presidency, or as the central
point of arrival and departure for Indian travellers, that Bombay
has achieved its highest reputation. It is best known as the great
cotton market of Western and Central India, to which the manufacturers
of Lancashire turned when the American war cut off their supplies.
Even in the last century the East India Company was accustomed to
export raw cotton as part of its investment, both to the United Kingdom
and to China. This trade continued during the early years of the
present century, but it was marked by extreme vicissitudes in quantity
and price, the demand being entirely determined by the out-turn of the
American crop. The war between the Northern and Southern States
was declared in 1861, and the merchants and shippers of Bombay
promptly took advantage of their opportunity. The exports of cotton
rapidly augmented under the stimulus of high prices, until in 1864-65,
the last year of the war, they reached a total value of 30 millions
sterling, or nearly ten-fold the average of ten years before. Large
fortunes were acquired by successful ventures, and the wild spirit
of speculation thus engendered spread through all classes of the
community. The scenes of the South Sea Bubble were revived.
No joint-stock project seemed too absurd to find subscribers. Banks,
financial associations, and land companies, each with millions of


nominal capital, were started every month, and their shares were
immediately run up to fabulous premiums. The crash came in
the spring of 1865, when the news was received of the termination of
the American war. A panic ensued which baffles description, and
the entire edifice of stock exchange speculation came toppling down
like a house of cards. Merchants and private individuals were ruined
by hundreds, and the quasi-official Bank of Bombay collapsed along
with the rest. But despite this sudden flood of disaster, honest trade
soon revived on a stable basis ; and the city of Bombay at the present
(Jay, in its buildings, its docks, and its land reclamations, stands as a
monument of the grand schemes of public usefulness which were
started during these four years of unhealthy excitement.

General Aspect. — In the beauty of its scenery, as well as in the
commercial advantages of its position, Bombay is unsurpassed by any
of the cities of the East. The Bombay island, or, as it may now be
called, the Bombay peninsula, is connected with the mainland on
the north by solid railway embankments. The entrance into the
harbour from the sea discloses a magnificent panorama. The back-
ground is shut in by the barrier range of the Western Ghats. In
front opens the wide harbour, studded with islands and jutting preci-
pices, dotted with the white sails of innumerable native craft, and
affording a secure shelter to fleets of tall-masted merchantmen. The
city itself consists of well-built houses, and broad streets ennobled by
public buildings. The sea-shore is formed by docks, warehouses,
and a long line of artificial embankments extending continuously for
nearly five miles. On approaching Bombay from the west, there is
little to strike the eye. The coast is low, the highest point, Malabar
Hill, being only about 180 feet above the sea. But on entering the
harbour a stranger is impressed with the picturesqueness of the scene.
To the west the shore is crowded with buildings, some of them, as
Kolaba Church and the Rajabai clock-tow r er of the University, very lofty
and well-proportioned. To the north and east are numerous islands,
and pre-eminent amongst the hills, the remarkable one of Bama
Malang, otherwise called Mallangarh, on the top of which is an
enormous mass of perpendicular rock, crowned with a ruined fort.
The harbour is an animated and picturesque scene. There are usually
a troopship and a man-of-war of H.M.'s East Indian Squadron, together
with numerous large passenger or merchant steamers of the European
lines. Among these may be mentioned the Peninsular and Oriental
Company's line, the Rubatino (an Italian) line, the British Indian
Steam Navigation Company, the Messageries Maritimes, the ' Clan.
'Anchor,' 'Hall,' and 'National' lines. Many other steamers and
merchantmen are to be seen riding at anchor, swinging with the
swiftly-flowing tide, and discharging or receiving cargo. All kinds of


boats, ship's dingies, steam-launches, native 'bunders,' and <karachis r -
incessantly ply on the harbour.

The island consists of a low-lying plain about nj miles long by 3 to
4 broad, flanked by two parallel ridges of low hills. Point Kolaba, the
headland formed by the longer of these ridges, protects the harbour on
its eastern side from the force of the open sea. The other ridge ter-
minates in Malabar Hill ; and between the two lies the shallow expanse
of Hack Bay. On a slightly raised strip of land between the head ot
Back Bay and the harbour is situated the Fort, the original nucleus
round which the town grew up, but now chiefly occupied by stately
public buildings and commercial offices. From this point the land
slopes westward to the central plain, which, before the construction
of the embankment known as the Hornby Velard, was liable to be
submerged at high tide. To the north and east, recent schemes
of reclamation have similarly shut out the sea, and partly redeemed
the foreshore for the use of commerce. In the extreme north of the
island a large tract of salt marsh still remains unreclaimed.

The Government offices, the business houses, and the shops cluster
thickly in the part of the city called the Fort. Many of the public
and commercial buildings, constructed during the past twenty years,
are of splendid dimensions, and have no rival in any other Indian
city, except perhaps Calcutta. The houses in the native bazar are
also handsomely built, rising three, four, and even six stories in height,
with elaborately carved pillars and frontwork. Some of the narrow,
unpaved, and crowded streets give an inadequate idea of the real
opulence of their inhabitants. But in many of them may be seen
evidences of the wealth of the city and of the magnificence of its
merchant princes. The most conspicuous line of public buildings is
on the esplanade facing Back Bay. Here is the Secretariat, an
enormous erection in the Venetian-Gothic style of architecture ; the
University Senate Hall and clock -tower ; the new High Court ; the
offices of the Public Works Department, the Post and Telegraph
Offices. A little inland and behind the Secretariat range of buildings
runs the broad thoroughfare of Rampart Row, off which branch many
narrow streets containing native and European shops. Rampart Row
and its continuation towards the Apollo Bandar (landing-place) form
the main line of thoroughfare of the European city of Bombay. Along
one side of Rampart Row is a colonnade of arches giving entrance to
the Bombay Club, the French Bank, and other buildings. On the
opposite side of Rampart Row, which is here fifty or sixty yards broad,
rises another line of many-storied offices, chiefly belonging to merchants
in grain and cotton. The Fort is illuminated during the night by
means of the electric light. Near the Apollo Bandar" is the Sailors'
Home, erected at the expense of a recent Gaekwar of Baroda. Behind


the Sailors' Home is the Royal Yacht Club, a favourite resort ot
Bombay society. At the other end of Rampart Row is a white
marble statue of the Queen, under a Gothic canopy, also the gift
of the Gaekwar. The most important buildings in the densely-built
space occupying the site of the Fort are the circular row of offices
and warehouses known as the Elphinstone Circle, the Custom House,
the Town Hall, the Mint, and the Cathedral.

The Castle and Fort St. George are the only two spots now retaining
any traces of fortification. The real defences of Bombay consist at
present of the two turret ships Abyssinia and Magdala, armed with
i o-inch guns. A scheme for erecting ironclad forts mounted with
heavy guns, in mid-channel at the entrance of the harbour, is still
under consideration. The existing defences of Bombay Harbour
are batteries on rocks, which stud the sea from about opposite the
Memorial Church at Kolaba to the Elphinstone reclamation. The one
most to the south is called the Oyster Rock, which is iooo yards
from the shore and 8400 feet s.w. of the Middle Ground Battery. The
fort on the Middle Ground shoal is in the middle of the anchorage,
1800 yards from shore. The third defence is on Cross Island, at the
north end of the anchorage, 100 yards from the shore, and 4000 yards
from Middle Ground. There is a battery also on the higher part of the

The private houses of the European residents lie apart from the
mercantile and the native quarters of the town. As a rule, each is
built in a large garden or compound ; and although the style of archi-
tecture is less imposing than that of the stately mansions of Calcutta,
it is well suited to the climate, and has a beauty and comfort of its
own. In former times, the favourite quarter was the northern suburb
of Parell, which has contained the official residence of the Governor of
Bombay for the last hundred years. At present, the majority of the
Europeans live on or around Malabar Hill, now terraced to the top
with handsome houses, commanding a magnificent view over the city
and the sea. North of Malabar Hill runs another European suburb,
known as Breach Candy, where the houses are built close down upon
the shore, within the refreshing sound of the waves. Of recent years,
both Kumbala Hill, a continuation of Malabar Hill, and the outlying
spur of Kolaba are being covered with the residences of Europeans.
The Governor has a pretty marine villa at Malabdr Point. During the
hot-weather months of the early summer, his Excellency and staff, with
the Council and chief officers at head-quarters, repair to Mahabaleshwar,
and spend the rainy or monsoon season at Poona.

Population. — Limiting the area of Calcutta to the municipality, and
excluding the suburbs, Bombay ranks as the most populous city in
India, and the second in the whole British Empire. According to the


Census of e88i, the population of the Bombay municipality, which is
co-extensive with Bombay island, in an area of 22 square miles, is
-males. 464,763; females, 3 o8,433 : total, 773,196, or an average
f ,3,662 persons per square mile. The total number of houses
Of all kinds is 29,853 occupied, and 1502 unoccupied, showing an
average of -6-35 persons per house. The corresponding average m
I ondon is only 779- The proportion of males in the total popu-
lation is 6o-o per cent. The following table gives the population
classified according to religion or nationality, with the percentage of
each class in the total. The greater bulk of the people is contained
in the quarters entitled Dhobi Talao Market, Mandevi, Umarkhari,
Bholeshwar, Khetwadi, Kamatipura, Khara, Talao, Byculla, Tarwan,
Mazagon, Girgaon, Chaupatti, and Tardeo, which cover an area of
about 4 square miles only.

Population of Bombay City (1881).

Religion or Nationality.



Buddhists and Jains, ....


2 - 2


3 J -• ! 99



Rajputs, • •



Hindu Sudras,



Hindu outcastes, .....












"Native Christians and Portuguese, .



Eurasians, ......






1 '4



Including 24,887 on board ships and boats in harbour.
Hardly any city in the world presents a greater variety of
national types than Bombay. The Hindu and the Muhammadan,
of course, predominate in numbers, but in the busy streets the
characteristic dress of every Oriental people may be seen. The
green and gold turban of the Musalman, the large red or white head-
dress peculiar to the Maratha, the pointed red turban of the Guzerathi
Baniya, and the black or brown brimless hat of the Parsi, lend colour
and variety to the scene. The Parsis exercise an influence much greater
than is implied by their numbers. When the commerce of Western
India deserted Surat in the last century, they settled in Bombay; and
now, by the force of their inherited wealth, their natural genius for
trade, their intelligence, and their munificent charities, they hold the
first place among the native community. Their position was gracefully
recognised by the Crown, when Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy received a


baronetcy in 1857. The Hindu traders, or Baniyas, rank next to
the Parsis. They may be divided into two classes — the Baniyas of
Guzerat, and the Marwaris of Central India. A large proportion of
both these classes adhere to the Jain religion, generally regarded as a
distinct offshoot of Indian Buddhism ; while not a few of the remainder
belong to the Vaishnav sect, especially that sub-denomination known
as Vallabh-acharjyas. The Muhammadans include representatives
from all the great countries that have embraced Islam — Arabs,
Persians, Turks, Afghans, Malays, and Africans. The three classes of
trading Muhammadans — the Memons, Borahs, and Khojahs — arc-
especially numerous. Their commercial dealings are chiefly with the
Persian Gulf, Zanzibar, and the east coast of Africa, while the Parsis
and Jews compete with the English in the markets of Europe.

Of the total area of the island, about 8500 acres are assessed as
arable land. The chief crop grown is rice ; but many varieties of
garden vegetables are also cultivated, particularly onions, and several
members of the gourd tribe. The rearing of cocoa-nut trees, and the
preparation of intoxicating drink from this tree and other species of
palms, afford employment to a considerable section of the population.
The Bombay mangoes are said to have been improved from grafts by
the Jesuits and Portuguese priests. They have long been famous
throughout India for their delicate flavour. The Bombay pu?na!o, a
shaddock which looks like a large orange, is also a favourite fruit.

Bombay supports all the many industries incidental to the active life
of a great city and seaport. The trades of dyeing, tanning, and working
in metal are specially prosperous. The School of Art has recently done
much to encourage those technical faculties which depend upon an
artistic and scientific education. But the characteristic feature of
Bombay manufacture is the rapid growth of the European factory
system. Mills, worked by steam, and employing a large number of
operatives, have been erected by local capital, especially in the
northern suburbs, where the tall chimney-stacks recall a factory town
in Lancashire. In 1881-82, there were 36 mills at work, with a
nominal horse-power of 6208, employing 31,801 hands, and a total of
1,056,004 spindles, and 11,274 looms. Sir James Caird has remarked
that the monthly wage of a worker in these mills is about equivalent to
the weekly wage of a factory hand in Lancashire. The sea-borne com-
merce of Bombay has been included in the tables given in the previous
article for Bombay Presidency. In 1880-81, 45,146 sailing ships and
1 21 2 steamers, including foreign and coasting craft, entered the port,
with a total tonnage of 2,360,985. The total value of the trade, both
imports and exports, was ^71,695,017. The principal article of import
is cotton piece-goods, valued at .£7,303,260; the chief article of export
is raw cotton, valued at ,£9,777,185.



AJminisfratum.-Besidts the High Court, which is a court of first
instance for causes arising within the island of Bombay, there are also
a Small Cause Court and three Presidency magistrates, having jurisdic-
tion in the city. The total cost of these tribunals, exclusive of the
Courts of the Presidency magistrates, was ,£86,039, of which ^51,826
was covered by the stamp revenue on cases decided by them. Ex-
cluding the collection of the customs revenue of the port of Bombay,
and other items of imperial revenue, such as stamps, excise, and land,
amounting altogether to about ^150,000 a year, the civil administra-
tion of Bombay city is entrusted to the municipal corporation created
by the Acts of 1872 and 1878. One-half the members are elected by
the ratepayers, and the rest are nominated by the Government and the
Justices of the Peace. The members of the corporation, in their turn,
elect eight out of twelve members of a Town Council, by whom the
general administration of affairs is controlled. The remaining four
members of the Town Council, and the chairman, are nominated by
Government. The principal executive officer of the Town Council
is the municipal commissioner appointed by Government. In 1881,
among a total of 64 members of the corporation, the principal
nationalities represented were — 25 Europeans, 13 Parsis, 14 Hindus,
1 Portuguese, and 3 Muhammadans. Of the 64 members, 16 were
official and 48 non-official. The corporation elects its own chairman,
and in 1884-85 that position was held by a Parsi barrister. The
following table shows the balance-sheet for 1880-81 : —

Balance-Sheet of Bombav Municipality for 1880-81.



House rate


General superintendence,


Government contribution to

Assessment and collection,




Health department,


Wheel-tax, ....


Market and slaughter-houses,


Liquor licences,


Engineer's department, .

45, 61 1

Land conveyance licences,


Tobacco duty establishment, .


Town duties, ....


Town duty establishments,


Tobacco duty licences, .


Interest on loans, .


Contribution from Insurance

Charges on loans, .


Companies, ....


Sinking Fund,




Primary education,


Tramway rent,


Gokaldas Tejpal Hospital,


Public gardens,


Rent of municipal office,


Halalkhor (Scavenger) cess, .


New works




Public account,


Contributions towards pension,


Lighting, ....

26, 138

Miscellaneous fines,


Waterworks, ....


.. fees, .


Repayment of Drainage Loan,


,, receipts, .


Other small items, .


,, savings,

3 2 4

Profit on stores adjusted,


Total, .



Surplus on year's revenue for 1880-81, £19,386.



The halalkhor (scavenger) cess and the water-rate represent pay-
ments for services rendered. Excluding these two items, the receipts
of the municipality from taxation amounted to ,£265,807, or an
average rate of taxation of 8s. 6d. per head. Of the total receipts,
68 per cent, was derived from taxation, 18 per cent, from payments
for services rendered, 8 per cent, from municipal property, and 6
per cent, from miscellaneous sources. The total liabilities of the
municipality at the end of the year 1881 were £1,191,726, and
the total assets (including a cash balance of £76,209) were
£1,374,416. About the year 1872, the total rateable value of the
city was assessed at £1,155,000, having fallen from £1,630,000
within the previous nine years. The city police in 1880-81 consisted of
a strength of 1423 officers and men, including 293 men paid from
imperial sources and employed on harbour duty, or as guards to Govern-
ment offices ; or 65 men to every square mile of area, and 1 man to
every 543 of the population. The military force at Bombay on 1st
January 1882 consisted of five batteries of artillery, a European
regiment, and two and a half battalions of native infantry. The head-
quarters of the Bombay army are at Poona, and the head-quarters of

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 10 of 56)