Mumbai is in all ways a mega-city driven by power, wealth, glamour and fame which attracts people to give shape to their dreams and aspirations. But it is also a city with strong historical links, wonderful British architecture, museums, beaches, places of worship, and above all, a true galaxy of stars where Bollywood reigns supreme.
It is said that every train that comes to Mumbai brings on it hundreds of people from across India who are not only drawn to ‘experience’ the city’s mesmerising attractions but would also like to make it their home. A city of diverse cultures and a melting pot of commerce, industry, entertainment, enterprise, and politics, Mumbai’s trysts with wealth and fame have, however, been recent. It wasn’t a cosmopolitan finance centre to begin with. Its history has witnessed several shifts in power, and the seven islands changed hands frequently.
The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were earlier home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands were under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Bombay was reshaped by the Hornby Vellard Project, which undertook reclamation of the area between the seven islands from the sea. Along with construction of major roads and railways, the reclamation project, completed in 1845, transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea.
Bombay in the 19th century was characterised by economic and educational development. During the early 20th century it became a strong base for the Indian independence movement. Upon India’s independence in 1947 the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as the capital. The city was renamed Mumbai in 1996. And in this short period of development, the city has transformed into the commercial and entertainment capital of India.
Mumbai houses important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India, the SEBI and the corporate headquarters of numerous Indian companies and multinational corporations. It is also home to some of India’s premier scientific and nuclear institutes like BARC, NPCL, IREL, TIFR, AERB, AECI, and the Department of Atomic Energy. And of course there is the huge Hindi film and television industry that has given it its starry appeal.