Aerial view of the Bandra coast
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Mumbai North Central|
|Vidhan Sabha constituency||Bandra|
Bandra (वांद्रे) is a suburb located in West Mumbai, India. It has the sobriquet "Queen Of The Suburbs". The Bandra railway station is located on the Western line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. Bandra is a location for restaurants, pubs, bars, and high-street stores.
The suburb has a long seafront, with promenades located along Carter Road, Bandstand and Reclamation. Many Bollywood actors live along the Bandstand Promenade, Carter Road and in the Pali Hill areas. The population and culture of Bandra is now quite cosmopolitan in nature; for many years it consisted of mostly Christians, but Bandra is now home to sizeable Hindu, Parsi (Zoroastrians), and Muslim populations.
Bandra is home to numerous churches, including Mount Mary's Basilica. The Parsi fire-temple Tata Agiary is located on Hill Road. Other famous religious places include the Jama Masjid (mosque) located near Bandra West railway station and the temple of Goddess Jari-Mari, located on S.V Road. A municipal lake, Swami Vivekanand Talao, is located in Bandra. It was closed to the general public in the mid-1990s.
The name 'Bandraa' is possibly an adaptation of the Persian (and also Urdu) word bandar, which Duncan Forbes' A Dictionary, Hindustani and English (1848) defines as 'a city; an emporium; a port, harbour; a trading town to which numbers of foreign merchants resort'. In Marathi, Bandra is known as Vandre, which also means 'port' and is possibly derived from the same Urdu/Persian word.
It is referred to as "Bandora" on gravestones in the cemetery of St. Andrew's Church and in the writings of Mountstuart Elphinstone of the British East India Company which describe endeavours to acquire the island of Salsette.. It was Bandor as the Portuguese called it in 1505, then called Bandera, Bandura, Bandore, Pandara, Bandorah, Bandara and finally Bandra.
The area was under the rule of the Silhara dynasty in the 12th century.
Bandra became a Portuguese possession with the Sultanate of Cambay ceding the region in the Treaty of St Matthew signed on the Portuguese brig St. Matthew in Baçaim harbor 1534, particularly as a result of the efforts of the Governor-General Nuno da Cunha and Diogo da Silveira. The Portuguese enfeoffed Bandra, Kurla, Mazagaon and four other villages in 1548 to a certain Antonio Pessao as a reward for his military services. This was confirmed by the Royal Chancellery on the 2nd February, 1550. As these villages were given for a period of 'two lives,' they reverted to the Crown after the death of Isabella Botelha, Pessao's widow. The Jesuits who had applied for these villages in anticipation of the death of Isabella Botelha obtained them from the Viceroy in 1568 and the Royal confirmation was received in 1570.
The Jesuits of the Jesuit Mission to the Mughal Court met and befriended an Armenian Christian woman "Rosa" who had been enslaved and forced into the Mughal harem; she and her son endowed the Jesuits and accordingly, the Jesuits purchased the sole ownership of Bandra, Parel, Wadala and Sion in order to offer Holy Masses for Rosa and her son's souls. In 1570, the Jesuits built a college and a church in Bandra by the name St Anne's (Santa Anna) College and Church. In the mid-18th century, the traveller John Fryer recorded that the Jesuit church, which stood near the sea shore, was still in use.
In 1661 when King Charles married Catherina of Portugal, the island of Bombay; Portugal retained ownership and sovereignty of the surrounding islands, including Colaba, Bandra, etc.
The Jesuits controlled Bandra till 1739. In that year, with the threat of a Maratha invasion, they appealed to the English for help; English military sappers, over the protests of the Jesuits, destroyed the substantial Jesuit buildings including the College of St. Anne, the fortress Aguada, etc. on the ground that hostile Marathas could use them to attack English possessions Mahim etc. The Marathas conquered and ruled over the region including Bandra for the next 2 decades.
Raghunathrao, uncle of the Maratha supremo or Peshwa Narayanrao, instigated his murder and usurped his position. After Madhavrao II was born posthumously to Narayanrao, the Maratha statesman Nana Phadnavis organized the "Conspiracy of the Twelve Brothers" or Barbhai Conspiracy, that declared Madhavrao II the new Peshwa under the "Barbhai Regency." In the resulting Maratha Civil War, Raghunath appealed to the English at Bombay for military assistance, signing the Treaty of Surat (March 6, 1775) ceding the islands around Bombay, including Bandra and Salsette, to England in exchange for military assistance of 2500 English troops. An English Expeditionary force was defeated by the Barbhai Regency at the Battles of Talegaon & Wadgaon-Maval, and by the Treaty of Wadgaon, the English retroceded these gains. After Madhavrao II's suicide, Raghunath's son Bajirao II became Peshwa; in 1802, defeated and in flight from Yashwantrao Holkar's conquest of the Peshwa's capital Poona and erection of Amrutrao his brother as Anti-Peshwa, he signed the Treaty of Bassein with the English surrendering sovereignty and again ceding Bandra.
The English found in this newly acquired tract thousands of native Christians descended from converts made by the Portuguese, and who the English derogatorily called "Black Portuguese," and whom they exploited to serve as menials and adjutants in building their empire. At the same time, the English enticed other "Black Portuguese" to immigrate from Goa, Karnataka and Kerala to serve as menials and adjutants, and, practicing the policy of Divide & Rule instigated schisms and quarrels, religious (e.g. the Padroado-Propaganda Schism), political and regional rivalries among them to divide them and re-orient them towards a feeling of dependence and gratitude towards the English. Thus the native Christians of the Bombay-Bassein region, historically known as the Norteiros from Bassein, the former Portuguese Corte de Norte, organized themselves as "subjects" of the British East Indian Company as against the Goans who are "Portuguese subjects," forming the East Indian Association May 26, 1887 and styling themselves "East Indians" (sic!). When the English acquired the city of Thane on Salsette Island, and the Bassein region, Christians formed more than 90% of the population of the city and most coastal areas, with a few Hindu & Muslim pockets; English policy encouraged immigrations so that eventually the Christians have been reduced to a miniscule minority.
Bandra remained a village with plantations of rice and vegetables in the low-lying areas of the island until it was connected to Mahim by a causeway in 1845. Many bungalows were built in the decades of the 1860s and 70s. The Pali Hill area, near the much older Pali Village and now inhabited mostly by members of the film community, saw the first constructions only in the 1880s.
On 12th Apr 1867 the first railway service was inaugurated with one train per day between Virar and Bombay. Six years later, it was increased to 24 each day and now there are 940 trains that stop at Bandra every day. Till as late as the 30s, Bandra had only one bus service from Pali Naka, Hill road to the Railway station. Other people just walked to the nearest Railway station. After World War II the building boom started to accommodate immigrants.
Bandra was raised to the status of a Municipality 1876, and then was expanded. In 1950, it was merged into the Municipal Corporation of Bombay to form the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay.
There was an 18 hole golf course in Bandra called Danda Green with an English style Club House on the top of the hill, surrounded by trees. Membership was only for the British who lived in Pali Hill. Each cottage had a stable for horses.
Bandra consisted of many villages, among them, Sherly, Malla, Rajan, Kantwady, Waroda, Ranwar, Boran, Pali, Chuim, etc. Many of the villages are now lost in the concrete jungle. Ranwar also had a tennis court and the famous Rest Ranwar Club famous for its Christmas and New Year eve dances.
In the Bandra of the forties and earlier, large cottages with large gardens were available for rent at Rs 30 a month. Marriages were celebrated for 8 days from Thursday to Thursday for a Sunday wedding and the whole village was invited. Thursday was pig slaughter day and Friday was to make pappads for drinks, Saturday to make fugias and bring water from the village well to bathe the bride & groom. Sunday was the wedding ceremony and long reception. Monday was day of rest and to finish remaining food and on Tuesday the feet of guests were washed in exchange for cash. Then farewell dinner on Wednesday and guests left on Thursday.
History of localities in Bandra
Ghodbunder Rd, which originally ran from Mahim causeway, then skirted Bazaar Rd, went past the Bandra talao (lake) and continued to the settlement of Ghodbunder neighboring the City of Thane. The road was later made straight by cutting through the talao. Bazaar Road began at Ghodbunder Rd opposite the Bandra Mosque and ran through the market keeping close to the coast, now the Bandra Reclamation. Bazaar Rd is only 2 km long but houses a Jain temple, Ram Mandir, Hanuman Mandir, Khoja Mosque, Christian shrines and a Sikh temple.
Bandra had 2 hills, Mount Mary hill and Pali hill. Hill Rd starting from the station went through middle of Bandra town, past St Andrews to terminate at the foot of Mount Mary's Hill near Mehboob Studios. Pali Rd began at St Peter's and cut through Pali village till it reached Danda; Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Road ("BJ Rd") runs from St Andrew's to Land's End at the Fortress Aguada ruins; it was built by the Parsee Byramjee Jeejebhoy and opened to the public in 1878.
Main roads in Bandra are Perry, Carter, Bullock, Kane, and Bates Roads, named after Englishmen & government officers. Carter was collector in 1924 and Bullock was the Chief Magistrate.
The Portuguese built several churches in Bandra, one of the earliest being St. Andrew's Church in 1575. Six churches with separate parishes lie within an area of four square kilometers. These churches are: Mount Carmel, St. Peter's Church, St. Andrew's Church, St. Theresa's Church, St. Anne's and St. Francis D'Assisi Church. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount is affiliated to the parish of St. Andrew's Church, Bandra.
There are over 150 crosses at various places. Many crosses were built to ward off the plague epidemic (1896-1906). The oldest is the one relocated in St Andrew's church compound. Stands 17 ft high and made of a single stone. It was originally in the Jesuit Church of St Anne (Santa Anna) built in 1610. The Church was destroyed in 1739 and the cross was relocated to St Andrews church. The surface is carved all over with 39 emblems of the passion of Christ. The walls enclosing the compound of St Andrew's church were built by a Parsi, Manockjee Sorabjee Ashburner in 1862. This is recorded on a slab on the main gate of the enclosure.
Salsette was originally separated from Mahim Island by the western (now only) mouth of the Mithi River also called the Bandra or Mahim Creek. Pilgrims travelling from Bombay and Mahim to Bandra had to use ferries. After many boats capsized, the Parsee philanthropist Lady Jamsethji built the Mahim Causeway in 1843 at a cost of Rs. 1,55,800. It was designed by Lt. Crawford and opened to the public in 1845.
The Tata Agiary on Hill Rd was built by Tata in memory of his wife in 1884.
Mount Mary's Church
The chapel of Mount Mary, was built around 1640. The chapel was destroyed in 1738 by the Marathas during their invasion. The statue of the Virgin was recovered from the sea by fishermen and temporarily installed in St. Andrew's Church, before being shifted to the rebuilt Mount Mary's Church in 1761, the year marking beginning of the Feast of Our Lady of the Mount, also known as the Monti Fest or the Bandra Feast. To this day, the statue is venerated and many miracles, minor and major, are attributed to the Lady of the Mount. The architect of Mount Mary's church was a Bombay architect Shahpoorjee Chandabhoy. The basilica was built in 1904 at a cost of 1 lakh. The original church was built to serve the garrison posted at the Castella de Aguada - the Fortress of Aguada at Land's End, Bandra. In 1879, Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy constructed a flight of steps to the Mount Mary's Church; these are known as the "Degrados de Bomanjee" ('Steps of Bomanjee').
People of all faiths and communities visit the church giving the place a syncretic nature. The Bandra Fair is held during the eight days of the Octave of the Nativity of Our Lady September 8 when pilgrims throng the church.
The first school founded in Bandra after Bombay passed on to the English was St. Andrew’s Parish School, started by Fr. Francisco de Melo in 1780 to teach catechism to the children of the parish. This later became St. Andrew High School.
St. Stanislaus School was founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus. It started as a 'Native Boy's orphanage', became a high school in 1923 and was the first English medium school in the suburbs. Later it grew to be a full-fledged educational institution for day-scholars as well as boarders. What started out as a school for 40 orphans has now grown to support 2,300 students.
R.D. National College was originally set up in 1922 in Hyderabad, Pakistan under the guidance of Annie Besant. In the run-up to the Partition of India, it was relocated, finally to its present site in 1949 in Bandra.
St. Theresa's High School grew out of St. Andrew's Indian Christians' School, housed in a very dilapidated building situated in Old Khar. This school was founded on 1918 and was taken over by the Divine Word Fathers (S.V.D). in 1952. It is counted among the best schools in Mumbai.
The Rizvi Education Complex, located off Carter Road, has the Rizvi College of Arts, Science and Commerce (established in 1985); Rizvi High School (established in 1985); Rizvi College of Engineering (established in 1998); Rizvi College of Architecture; Rizvi College of Hotel Management & Catering Technology; Rizvi Law College; Rizvi College of Education; and the Rizvi College of Fashion Designing & Creative Arts. All are managed by the Rizvi Education Society, and may have the status of Muslim religious minority institution.
The lake was later acquired by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. It was officially renamed Swami Vivekanand Sarovar. Paddle boating facilities and pisciculture activities were operational in this lake during the 1990s. This lake is now a heritage structure of status "Heritage II".
Like most places in Mumbai, Bandra is split by the local railway-line into West Bandra (Postal code 400050) and East Bandra (Postal code 400051). The part of Bandra located on the western side of the railway line developed into a fashionable suburb by the middle of the 20th century. Film director, Mehboob Khan, established the Mehboob Studios here in 1954. Soon the area became a center for the Indian movie industry. A recording studio was set up in the 1970s.
The east, in the mid-to-late 1990s emerged as a commercial and administrative hub. It houses the Family Court, Bandra-Kurla Commercial Complex, the office of the state housing development authority (MHADA), the office of the District Collector and so on. The residential quarters of the employees of the Maharashtra State Government are also located here.
Most roads and places in Bandra possess English names that were given to them during British rule. They have been renamed over time but many are still popularly known by their old names.
- Neighbouring suburbs: Dharavi, Khar, Kurla, Mahim, Santacruz
- Arterial Roads: Swami Vivekanand Road (S.V Road), Linking Road, Turner Road (Guru Nanak Marg), Hill Road (renamed Ramdas Nayak Marg), Carter Road (renamed Naushad Ali Marg), Navpada Road (Balsamant), Western Express Highway. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link connects the western part of Bandra to Worli by the sea route, thus diverting a lot of road traffic.
Bandra railway station is connected via the Western Railway and the Harbour Line, which is an offshoot of the suburban Central Railway. It also has a newly built terminus called Bandra Terminus in Bandra (E) from where trains bound for northern and western India are scheduled regularly. The important trains include the Bandra - Indore Express, Bandra – Patna Express, Bandra - Jaipur Express, Bandra - Jodhpur Express and the Bandra - Amritsar Express
Public transport BEST buses, auto rickshaws and taxis are abundant. As you travel southwards, Bandra is the last point up to which auto rickshaws ply. Beyond Bandra, as you enter Mahim, only taxis are allowed to ply.
Due to Bandra's central location, most parts of the city are easily accessible.
Places of interest
- Jogger's Park: Jogger's Park is a small seaside jogging track where joggers of Bandra congregate. The pretty little park, next to the Otter's Club, another recreation place for Bandra denizens, was where Bombay's first laughing club was launched.
- Bandra Reclamation
- Mount Mary's Basilica (in picture)
- Castella de Aguada, a seventeenth century fort at Land's End, the southernmost point of Bandra
- Bandstand Promenade
- Bandra-Kurla complex
- Carter Road Promenade
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bandra.|
- Duncan Forbes (1848). A Dictionary, Hindustani and English: To which is Added a Reversed Part, English and Hindustani. W.H. Allen. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- Mount Mary fair begins today Indian Express, September 08, 2007.
- Devotees throng to Bandra Fair on opening day as stall owners protest DNA (newspaper), Sep 13, 2010.
- "History". St Andrew High School, Bandra.
- Gazzetter of Thane District - Places of Interest, 1882.
- "Mehboob mere, Mehboob tere". Pune Mirror. November 1, 2008.
- "Mumbai, meri mehboob?". DNA (newspaper). February 7, 2011.