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Suburban village
Aerial view of the Bandra coast
Aerial view of the Bandra coast
Bandra is located in Mumbai
Coordinates: 19°03′16″N 72°50′26″E / 19.054444°N 72.840556°E / 19.054444; 72.840556Coordinates: 19°03′16″N 72°50′26″E / 19.054444°N 72.840556°E / 19.054444; 72.840556
Country India
State Maharashtra
District Mumbai Suburban
Metro Mumbai
Zone 3
Ward H West
Population (1991)
 • Total 300,000
 • Official Marathi
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 400 050
400 051
Vehicle registration MH-02
Lok Sabha constituency Mumbai North Central
Vidhan Sabha constituency Vandre West (covers Bandra West)
Vandre East (covers Bandra East)

Bandra is a suburban village located in West Mumbai in the Maharashtra state of India. The Bandra railway station is located on the Western line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. The suburb has a long seafront, with promenades located along Carter Road, Bandstand and Reclamation. Several Bollywood actors live along the Bandstand Promenade, Carter Road and in the Pali Hill areas. The population and culture of Bandra is quite cosmopolitan in nature. During the period of Portuguese and British colonization, it consisted of mostly Christians, but Bandra is now home also 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 has been closed to the general public since the mid-1990s.


The name 'Bandra' 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'.[1] In Marathi, Bandra is known as Vandre, which also means 'port' and is possibly derived from the same Urdu/Persian word. The area was under the rule of the Silhara dynasty in the 12th century. Bandra was a tiny fishing village inhabited by Kolis (fishermen) and farmers. It was acquired by the British East India Company while the rest of Mumbai belonged to the Portuguese.

When the Portuguese started trading there, they called it Bandora in 1505, and later the name had variations: Bandera, Bandura, Bandore, Pandara, Bandorah, Bandara and finally Bandra. 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.[citation needed].

Portuguese Bandra[edit]

Bandra became a Portuguese possession with the Sultanate of Cambay ceding the region in the Treaty of St Matthew signed aboard 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 2 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, receiving Royal confirmation in 1570.

The Jesuits of the Jesuit Mission to the Mughal Court met and befriended "Rosa," an Armenian Christian woman who had been enslaved and forced into the Mughal harem. She and her son endowed the Jesuits. They 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 St. Anne's (Santa Anna) College and Church in Bandra, the first church here. 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 Mumbai was given to England as part of the dowry.[2] However, Salsette Island, on which Bandra lay, was not part of this treaty and remained with the Portuguese.[3] The Portuguese built additional churches in Bandra, one of the earliest being St. Andrew's Church in 1575. Their Jesuit missionaries, who learned local languages and cultures, attracted many Indian converts to Catholicism among the villagers on the island. Their descendants continue to support the six Catholic parish churches; Mount Carmel, St. Peter's, St. Andrew's, St. Theresa's, St. Anne's and St. Francis D'Assissi, that lie within an area of four square kilometers.

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. to prevent their use by hostile Marathas in attacks of the English possessions of Mahim and others. The Marathas conquered and ruled over the region including Bandra for the next two decades. They destroyed the St. Anne Church. Its high cross was salvaged and moved to St. Andrew's Church. ( St. Anne's Church was later reconstructed at a different location in Bandra.)

British Bandra[edit]

Bandra became part of English territory with the signing the Treaty of Surat in 1775 but was retroceded back to the Marathas in 1779 during the First Anglo-Maratha War. In 1802, Bajirao II signed the Treaty of Bassein with the English, surrendering sovereignty and again ceding Bandra and remained under the British till 14 August 1947.

The English found in this newly acquired territory of Salsette a large number of families who had been converted to Christianity by the Portuguese and were familiar with the Roman script. It was from these families the English drew their supplies of clerks, assistants and secretaries. There was also a large influx of Christians from Goa, Karnataka and Kerala who shared the same names and religion, and vied for the same jobs.

The native Christians of the Bombay-Bassein region, had historically been known in the Portuguese era as the Norteiros from Bassein, which was the former Portuguese Corte de Norte. They later organized as "subjects" of the British East India Company forming the East Indian Association on May 26, 1887 and styling themselves "East Indians". 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 and Muslim pockets.

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 built in 1845. Many bungalows were built in the area during the decades of the 1860s and 70s. The Pali Hill area, near the much older Pali Village, was developed in the 1880s as an area where British colonists settled. Each cottage had a stable for horses. The British also developed 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 limited to the British residents of Pali Hill.

On 12 April 1867, the first railway service was inaugurated, with one train per day between Virar and Mumbai. Six years later, it was increased to 24 each day. In the 21st century, 940 trains stop daily at Bandra. As late as the 1930s, 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 in 1876, and then was expanded. In 1950, following independence, it was merged into the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai to form the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay. Bandra consisted of many villages, among them, Sherly, Malla, Rajan, Kantwady, Waroda, Ranwar, Boran, Pali, Chuim, etc. These have been lost to urban development of the island. Ranwar also had a tennis court and the Rest Ranwar Club, noted for its Christmas and New Year eve dances.

History of localities in Bandra[edit]

Ghodbunder Road, 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 gurudwara.

Bandra had two hills: Mount Mary and Pali. Starting from the station, Hill Road went through middle of Bandra town, past St Andrews to terminate at the foot of Mount Mary's Hill, where Mehboob Studios were later located. Pali Road 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, named after prominent English colonists and government officers. Carter was tax collector in 1924 and Bullock was the Chief Magistrate.

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 with 39 emblems of the Passion of Christ. The walls enclosing the compound of St Andrew's church were built in 1862 by a Parsi, Manockjee Sorabjee Ashburner. 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 Mumbai 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[edit]

Statue of Mother Mary at Mount Mary Church, Bandra.

The Catholic chapel of Mount Mary, was built around 1640 by the Portuguese. 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. This year marked the 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 Mumbai 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 (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, beginning September 8, when pilgrims throng the church.[4][5]

Educational institutions[edit]

The first school founded in Bandra after Mumbai 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.[6]

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 in 1918. It was taken over by the Divine Word Fathers (S.V.D). in 1952. It is counted among the best schools in Mumbai.[7]

St. Stanislaus School was founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus. It started as a 'Native Boy's orphanage.' It 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 grown to support 2,300 students.

Cardinal Gracias High School is a convent school located in East Bandra.

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 to its present site in 1949 in Bandra.

The Thadomal Shahani Engineering College was established in 1983 by the Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board. It was the first private engineering institute to be affiliated to the federal University of Mumbai. It was the first among various engineering colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai to offer courses in Computer Engineering, Information Technology, Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology.

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.[8] All are managed by the Rizvi Education Society, and may have the status of Muslim religious minority institution.

There are various professional training and coaching schools in Bandra with most prominent being IMS India, Vidyalankar, Sadguru, Arihant Tutorials, Resonance, etc.

Bandra Lake[edit]

Main article: Bandra Talao

Bandra Lake, also called "Bandra Talao" or "Motha Reservoir" was constructed by a rich Konkani Muslim of Navpada (also spelt Naupada or Naopara), an adjoining village.[9]

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 but have since stopped. This lake is now a heritage structure of status "Heritage II".[citation needed]


Sunset at Bandra Bandstand

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.[10][11]

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the eastern part 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 were given English names during British rule. They have been renamed over time but many are still popularly known by their old names.

Worli skyline as seen from Bandra Reclamation
A stall on Linking Road


Bandra Worli SeaLink Project

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. Bandra is the last southern point from Mumbai where auto rickshaws ply. Beyond Bandra, entering Mahim, only taxis are allowed to ply.

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge connects Bandra West with Worli located in central Mumbai. Due to Bandra's central location, most parts of the city are easily accessible.

Places of interest[edit]

Mount Mary's Basilica

See also[edit]