For many years it was called Bombay. In 1995 the name was changed because Bombay was given by the British. By removing it, the vestiges of colonialism were removed. As the history of Mumbai will show though, there is more to it than just name changes.
Before the British Occupation
The area began as a group of seven islands. They consisted of Mumbadevi, Colaba, Mazgaon, Parel and Worli. According to ancient accounts, the earliest dwellers were the Kolis who lived there c. 3,000 BC. Then came a succession of rulers including the Mouryas. They were followed by the Silaharas and then the Yadavas.
Of the islands, Mahim was the most prominent. It was the place where a lot of the people lived. It was also the site of trade and commerce. By the 13th century, it had become the capital of Raja Bhimedo. Renamed Mahivakti, the history of Mumbai reveals that the Raja oversaw construction of numerous roads, buildings, and fabulous temples.
As a port city it attracted foreign investors and visitors. Europeans and Arabs conducted business in the city, making it very prosperous.
The Muslim and Portuguese Conflict
In the 13th century the islands came under attack from the Muslims. They took over the land. However their rule would not last. They were under constant pressure from the Mughals. When the Portuguese came in 1509, they joined the Muslims in repelling the attackers. But eventually the Portuguese took over the whole area. In 1534 the lands were handed over to Portugal.
Under British Rule
A study of the history of Mumbai will show the lands would remain under the control of Portugal for over 126 years. In 1662 the lands were handed over to the British king Charles II. It was a marriage gift as he was engaged to Princess Catherine of Portugal.
Under British rule, the city became a port. The city prospered and its population grew. From 1661 to 75, the population grew from 10,000 to more than 62,000. By the 1730s a dock had been built and newspapers were in circulation.
The 1850s saw the creation of Bombay University. By the 1900s trains were running all around the city. In 1928, the history of Mumbai will show that the first electric train was introduced in the city.
The City Today
Today it is regarded as the finance capital of India. More than 8% of industry and factory output is produced in the city. Almost half of income tax is obtained here and 60% of customs duty is collected there.
Its attractive business climate has made it the home of various foreign companies. The early years saw it relying on garments and textiles. Nowadays, the IT and engineering sector are growing as well.
It is also the home of TV and major movie houses. The largest publishers are also stationed in the city. Outsourcing companies are also prominent. An indication of its prosperity are the increasing number of billionaires there.
The history of Mumbai shows how far it has gone in both economic and cultural terms. Today it offers some of the best that India has to offer, both in business and leisure.