An aboriginal tribe of fishermen called "Koli",
were the earliest known inhabitants, though Palaeolithic stone implements
found at Kandivli, in Greater Bombay, indicate human occupation during the
Stone Age. The area was known as Heptanesia to the ancient Greek
astronomer and geographer Ptolemy and was a center of maritime trade with
Persia and Egypt in 1,000 BC. It was part of Ashoka's empire in the 3rd
century BC and was ruled in the 6th to 8th century AD by the Chalukyas,
who left their mark on "Gharapuri" (Elephanta Island).
The Walkeswar temple at Malabar Point was probably built during the rule of Shilahara chiefs from the Konkan coast (9th-13th century). Under the Yadavas of Dogiri (1187-1318) the settlement of Mahikavati (Mahim) on the island (which became Bombay island) was founded in response to raids by the Khilji dynasty of Hindustan in 1294. Descendants of these settlers are found in contemporary Mumbai (Bombay), and most of the place-names on the island date from this era. In 1348 the island was conquered by invading Muslim forces and became part of the kingdom of Gujarat.
A Portuguese attempt to conquer Mahim failed in 1507, but in 1534 Sultan Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat, ceded the island to the Portuguese. In 1661 it came under British control as part of the marriage settlement between King Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, sister of the king of Portugal. The crown ceded it to the East India Company in 1668.
In the beginning, compared to Kolkatta and Chennai, Mumbai (Bombay) was not a great asset to the company but merely helped it keep a toehold on the West Coast. On the mainland the Mughals, the Marathas, and the territorial princes in Gujarat were more powerful. Even British naval power was no match for the Mughals, Marathas, Portuguese, and Dutch. By the turn of the 19th century, external events helped stimulate the growth of the city.
The decay of Mughal power in Delhi, the Mughal-Maratha rivalries, and the instability in Gujarat drove artisans and merchants to the islands for refuge, and Mumbai (Bombay) began to grow. With the destruction of Maratha power, trade and communications to the mainland were established and those to Europe were extended; Mumbai 's prosperity had begun.
Establishment Of A Trade Centre - Mumbai
In 1857 the first spinning and weaving mill was established, and by 1860 Mumbai (Bombay) had become the largest cotton market in India. The American Civil War (1861-1865) and the resulting cutoff of cotton supplies to Britain caused a great trade boom in Bombay. But, with the end of the Civil War, cotton prices crashed and the bubble burst. By that time, however, the hinterland had been opened, and Mumbai (Bombay) had become a strong center of import trade.
With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Mumbai (Bombay) prospered, though slums and unsanitary conditions steadily multiplied with its increasing population. Plague broke out in 1896, and a City Improvement Trust was established to open new localities for settlement and to erect dwellings for the artisan classes.
An ambitious scheme for the construction of a seawall to enclose an area of 525 hectares was proposed in 1918 but not finished until the completion of what is now Netaji Subhash Road from Nariman Point to Malabar Point - the first two-way road of its kind in India - after World War II. In the postwar years the development of residential quarters in suburban areas was begun, and the administration of Mumbai City through a municipal corporation was extended to the suburbs of Greater Mumbai (Bombay). The city had served as the former capital of Bombay Presidency and Bombay State, and it was made the capital of Maharashtra State in 1960.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mumbai (Bombay) was a center of both Indian nationalist and regional political activity. In 1885 the first session of the Indian National Congress (a focus of both pro-Indian and anti-British sentiment until independence) was held in the city, where subsequently, at its 1942 session, the Congress passed the "Quit India" resolution, which demanded complete independence for India.
From 1956 until 1960 Mumbai (Bombay)was the scene of intense protests against the two-language (Marathi-Gujarati) makeup of Bombay State, a legacy of British imperialism, which led to the State's partition into the modern States of Gujarat and Maharashtra .