Undeveloped Marine Drive & Colaba View From Malabar Hill, 1855 

marine drive


An old 1855 print with a view of the undeveloped Marine Drive and Colaba from Malabar Hill. This is a page from the French publication “Le Monde Illustre” from around 1855 or earlier. The view also features the future Chowpatty Beach where some people seem to be standing on the beach as shown in the engraving.

In 1532, the Portuguese conquered the islands of Bombay from Sultan Bahadur Shah, the ruler of the Kingdom of Gujarat. By 1534 the whole of the islands as well as the remote territories came under the sovereignty of the King of Portugal. Portugal ruled over the islands of Bombay from 1534 to 1661 with Bassein as their capital.

The new Portuguese rulers were not wise enough to exploit the advantages that Bombay offered. It remained stagnant under their reign of 127 years. In 1661, it was handed over to Charles II, King of England. As a part of the dowry which he had received on his marriage to Catherine of Braganza, the younger sister of the King of Portugal.

At this time the seven islands covered an area of less than 19,000 square miles with inhabitants of about 10,000. Because its maintenance and development may demand heavy expenses. King Charles II decided to lease Bombay to the East India Company. The islands were handed over to the British Crown Representative by the Portuguese Viceroy de Mello de Castro in 1665.

A historic Instrument of Possession was signed in the manor house located on the southeastern tip of Bombay Island. It was this manor house, which was fortified under British rule and came to be known as “Bombay Castle“. Bombay Castle served as the headquarters of the British in western India until the middle of the 19th century.

Entry into the trapezoid-shaped walled settlement, also known as the ‘Fort’ was through three gates – Apollo, Church, and Bazaar Gates. It was from around 1715 to 1860s that the reclamation of the Islands took shape. From 1862, Bombay witnessed a massive growth under Governor Henry Bartle Frere. His legacy of development continued even after he left the city. Which included the development of Marine Drive, Colaba, Chowpatty, and Malabar Hill. That made Bombay a European-class city at one time.

Did you know – that the person who was responsible for the initial growth was Gerald Aungier. Who was the Governor of Bombay from 1672 to 1677. 

Past posts – 1964 M. Suriyamoorthy Charcoal On Paper Nude (#3)., Early Aviation Monoplane In Calcutta, 3 Photos 1913., Khadakwasla Dam Pune – Old Postcard 1905., British India Era Steam Locomotive – Old Photo 1935.