|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 tributary to the Portuguese in around 1530 . Gerson Da Cunha in his "The Origin of Bombay" (1900), gave us an abridgement of an account from 'Lendas da India'. In this account there is a description of how Diogo da Silveira brought Thane, Bandra, Mahim and Bombay under tribute. In 1534, King Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, ceded Vasai, Salsette and the adjacent areas to the Portuguese. Bandra thus became a Portuguese possession.
In 1548, Bandra, Kurla, Mazagaon and four other villages were given by the Governor of Portuguese India to a certain Antonio Pessoa 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 Viceroy after the death of Isabella Botelha, the widow of Antonio Pessoa. 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 Portuguese gave the sole ownership of Bandra, Parel, Wadala and Sion to the Jesuit priests. 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, Bombay was given to England as part of the dowry. But Salsette, which included Bandra, was not part of this treaty and remained with the Portuguese.
The Jesuits were the owners of Bandra till 1739. In this year, with the threat of a Maratha invasion, they appealed to the British for help, and were advised to destroy all fortifications around the chapel and the fortress Aguada. However, all of Salsette fell to the Marathas who ruled over the region (including Bandra) for 2 decades.
After the battle of Panipat in 1761, Maratha power declined and the British took over. Salsette including Bandra came under British rule. The Portuguese were left with just Goa, Daman and Diu. Bandra was under the British from 1 January 1775 till 14 August 1947.
The English found in this newly acquired territory of Salsette thousands of Indian families who were converted to Christianity. It was from these families the English drew their supplies of clerks, assistants and secretaries. At that time there was hardly a Hindu, Parsi or Muslim who could read Roman characters.
There was also a large influx of Christians from Goa, Karnataka and Kerala and this prompted local converts to take the name of 'East Indians' and form the East Indian Association on 26 May 1887 to distinguish the 'sons of the soil' who were the first employees of the East India Company, from Indian Christians who came from further down the West coast and shared the same names and religion, and vied for the same jobs. Bandra at one time was peopled mainly by East Indians (original residents of Bombay Salsette, Bassein, and Thana), a few Goans and Manglorian immigrants, Parsis, Muslims, Europeans and Hindu Kolis. Christians in Bandra are mostly of the Koli, Bhandari and Kunbi castes. In 1733, Kunbi farmers migrated to this island from Colaba because the fish manure they used was banned.
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 in colonial era
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 and Chuim.Many of the villages are now extinct. 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 or 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 Wed and guests left on Thursday by which time honeymoon was over.
History of localities in Bandra
Ghodbunder Rd, which originally ran from Mahim causeway, then skirted Bazaar Rd, went past the Bandra talav (lake) and continued to Ghodbunder, in Thane Dist. The Road was later made straight by cutting through the talav. Bazaar Rd began at Ghodbunder Rd opposite the mosque and ran through the market keeping close to the coast which is now the reclamation. Bazaar Rd is only 2 km long but houses a Jain temple, Ram Mandir, Hanuman temple, Khoja mosque, Christian chapel and a Sikh gurduwara.
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 the Mount near Mehboob studio. Pali Rd began at St Peters and cut through Pali village till it reached Danda; BJ Rd runs from St Andrews to Lands End, was built by Byramjee Jeejebhoy and opened to public in 1878.
Main roads in Bandra, Perry, Carter, Bullock, Kane, and Bates were named after British collectors and magistrates. Mr Carter was collector in 1924 and Mr 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 by a tidal creek which Portuguese called Bandora creek. English changed it to Mahim creek. Crossing the Mahim creek was by ferry to the industrial town of Bombay. After many boats capsized, a road was built by Lady Jamsetji in 1843 at a cost of Rs.1, 55,800. It was designed by Lt. Crawford and opened to 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 during a raid by Marathas. 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 Church in 1761, the year marking beginning of Bandra feast as it is celebrated today. 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. It was built to serve the garrison posted at Castella de Aguada- the fort at Land's End road. In 1879, Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy constructed a flight of steps from foot of Mt Mary hill to north side of church 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 (starting on the Sunday following September 8) when pilgrims throng the church, coming from as far North as Vasai and Virar and as far East as Thane.
The first school founded in Bandra after Bombay passed on to the English was St. Andrew’s Parish School, started by the Vicar, Fr. Francisco de Mello 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.
St.Theresa's High School grew out of St.Andrews Indian Christians School, housed in a very dilapated building situated in Old Khar. This school was founded on 1918 and was taken over by religious society called Society of Divine Word ( S.V.D). IN 1952.And now the school is counted among the best educated schools in Mumbai.
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 Bandra West (PIN code 400050) and Bandra-East (PIN code 400051). The part of Bandra located on the western side of the railway line evolved into a fashionable suburb by the middle of the 20th century. Film director, Mehboob Khan, established Mehboob Studio here in 1954. Soon the area was abuzz with film-related activities. 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
Despite commanding one of the highest property rates in Mumbai and being considered one of the most fashionable place to live in, Bandra has long suffered from problems of over-crowding, traffic congestions, haphazard construction of buildings and illegal hawking. Parking space availability is a major problem. Hill Road, one of Bandra's major roads continues to be heavily congested due to illegal hawkers setting up shops on the road itself. Also, the prices of commodities is higher compared to the other suburbs. Demolition of old bungalows along the narrow bylanes for new high rises has resulted in Bandra losing its charm and becoming a display of unplanned constructions leading to a multitude of problems.
|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). Monday, February 7, 2011.