Aerial View of British Bombay In 1936, Old Print

An old 1936 print that shows an aerial view of British Bombay, now Mumbai. This print is a page from the Times of India of March 7, 1936. The photo was taken by the great British aerial photographer A R Haseler. The picture features prominent landmarks like the Bombay Royal Yacht Club, Prince of Wales Museum, Royal Institute of Science, etc.

Also visible are the Rajabai Clock Tower, Oval Maidan, Elphinstone College, Flora Fountain, Secretariat, etc. Many had wondered about the wisdom of the British acquiring a cluster of seven islands from the Portuguese. Which was off the coast of Western India. That they thought of as an almost useless territory.

Parts of which were teeming with wildlife like tigers, leopards, hyenas, and jackals at that time. Many of the areas were swampy or marshy wastelands. The original inhabitants the Kolis and Bhandari’s inhabited the area for nearly 1000 years or more. They lived off the land by fishing, cultivating rice, and drawing toddy from the palm trees.

It was in 1532 that the Portuguese conquered Bombay and Mahim. By 1535 it came under their direct control by a forced treaty with Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. They set up a minor trading post with a makeshift fort. The Portuguese were in control for the next 130 years. They best utilized the land and leased out parcels of it to generally European settlers.

The European settlers thrived commercially from the produce of coconuts, toddy, fish, cultivating rice, salt from salt pans, and other yields. However, all this would change by the 1660s. King Charles II, of England, received the islands of Bombay as dowry on his marriage to Princess Catharine of Braganza of Portugal.

The East India Company saw great potential in this group of raw undeveloped islands. The Crown was happy to lease it to the East India Company in 1668 which was then based in Surat. There was no looking back thereafter for them. They united the isles into a single landmass by reclamation.

It took two and a half centuries to complete this process. One must admit that by sheer ingenuity and acumen the British transformed the islands into what it is today. This aerial view of what was British Bombay in 1936 is markedly different from what it looks like today. Click on the photo for better view.

See post Aerial View of Ballard Pier Bombay, Old Photo 1930.

Did you know- at the time of Portuguese control it had a population of a mere10,000, today it has a burgeoning population of a staggering 10 million people.  

From the collection- 1964 M. Suriyamoorthy Charcoal Art Abstract (#8)., Military Games Poona – Old Photo 1900., Trivandrum Canal Landing Place – Old Postcard 1900., Vintage South Indian Railway Promotional Postcard 1900

The images are of the actual items from my collection. And Not a photocopy, pirated, reproduced, stock photos, or taken from other sources.