One of the most vibrant places in the world today, the city’s volatile present and recent past, especially its transition into Mumbai, has been documented widely on celluloid and in print. Few, though, know of the many stories that the city stores within from the pre-British era — some of which are downright mind-blowing.
Get ready for a history lesson as we take a nostalgic dive to fish out five incredible stories from Mumbai’s far past that are bound to leave you amazed.
Bombay has been inhabited since the Stone Age
For the longest time, it was presumed that the Koli fishing community were the first inhabitants of the city.
This was before Malcolm Todd, a British archaeologist, stumbled upon stones from the era in the Kandivali region in 1939. That was a clear enough indication that Mumbai’s existence stretched back all the way to the Stone Age.
The Islands were under various rules for multiple centuries
We know about the Marathas, the Portuguese and the British reigning over the city, but you’ll be surprised to know it had actually changed hands multiple times before these rules came into place as well.
Starting from the Maurya Empire (the same one as King Asoka, yes) in the 3rd century B.C, the islands of Mumbai have been won and lost numerous times, largely to Indian regimes.
The Satavanhana, Kalchuris from central India, the Rashtrakutas Dynasty of Karnataka, all ruled over the islands for hundreds of years.
From 1348 to 1534, the islands were largely under Muslim rule, before they was finally taken over by the Portuguese. The famous Haji Ali Dargah and various mosques around the city were built during this period.
Bombay was once given up as dowry
Although the Portuguese ruled the cluster of islands for over a century, the marriage of Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza to King Charles II of England saw a huge dowry payment between the two kingdoms — and Bombay was part of the deal!
… and subsequently ‘rented’ out
Being an important trade port, Bombay was of massive importance to the British Crown. However, King Charles II wasn’t completely convinced because of the volatile political nature of the island city, so he rented it out to the East India Company, for a mere 10 pounds of gold a year.
I don’t think you would get even a 1 BHK in Bandra for that amount today!
The gruesome story of ‘Versova’
It might be a part of a newly affluent neighbourhood in the city today, but back in the 17th century, Versova was the site of a brutal massacre.
In 1694, a group of Arabs from Muscat landed on Versova beach and slaughtered every living thing they could lay their hands on.
The name Versova itself has been derived from “Vesave”, which means “resting” (resting place) in Marathi.
Know any more fantastic historical stories on the city we might have missed out on? Share them with us by commenting below.