Bandra Of The Past

This is culled from various sources and received via email. Makes interesting reading.

Bandra was a tiny fishing village inhabited by the Koli fishermen. There were also farmers.

It was acquired by the British East India Company even while the rest of Bombay belonged to the Portuguese.

There was a 18 hole golf course in Bandra and it was 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 villages Sherly, Malla, Rajan, Kantwady, Waroda, Ranwar, Boran and Pali besides Chuim. Ranwar also had a tennis court and the famous Ranwar Club famous for Christmas and New Year eve dances.

Most of the elder of Bandra worked for the East India Company and hence called East Indians. In the Bandra of the forties and before, large cottages with large gardens were available for rent at Rs 30/- a month. Marriages were held with an 8 day celebration from Thursday to Thursday for a Sunday wedding and the whole village was invited.


Thursday was the pig slaughter day and Friday 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.

Tradition has it that the suburb was originally known as Vandra or Ape as it was the home of monkeys, then Bandor as the Portuguese called it in 1505, then called Bandera, Bandura, Bandore, Pandara, Bandorah, Bandara and finally Bandra till a railway sign board finalized it at the end of the last century.

Salsette was originally separated by a tidal creek which Portuguese called Bandora creek. English changed it to Mahim creek.

Bandra had 2 hills, the Mount Mary hill and the Pail hill. On 12th Apr 1867 the first railway service was inaugurated of one train per day between Virar and Bombay.

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. Till as late as the 30’s Bandra had only one bus service from Pali Naka, Hill road to the Rly stn. Other people just walked to the nearest Rly stn. After World War II the building boom started to accommodate immigrants.

The five oldest roads in Bandra are: Godbunder Rd, originally ran from Mahim causeway, then to skirt Bazaar Rd, went past the Bandra talab and continued to Godbunder. The road was later made straight by cutting through the talab. 

Bazaar Rd began at Godbunder Rd opposite the mosque and ran through the market keeping close to the
coast which is now the reclamation. 

Hill Rd
starting fm stn 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 cut through Pali village till Danda. 

BJ Rd runs from St Andrews to Lands End, was built by Byramjee Jeejebhoy and opened to public in 1878. 

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 17ft high and made of a single stone. It was originally in the Jesuit seminary of St
Anne built in 1610. The bldg 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. 

Bazaar Rd is only 2 km long but houses a Jain temple, Ram mandir, Hanuman temple, Khoja mosque, Christian chapel and a Sikh gurduwara. 

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.

Christians in Bandra are mostly of the Koli, Bhandari and Kunbi castes. 

The architect of Mount Mary’s church was a Bombay architect Shahpoorjee Chandabhoy. The basilica was built in 1904 at a cost of Rs.1 lakh. Also the first time a non catholic was asked to build the church. It was built to serve the garrison posted at Castella de Aguada-the fort at Land’s End road. It was destroyed in a fire in 1739 and rebuilt in 1761, the year marking beginning of Bandra feast as it is
celebrated today. 

The walls enclosing the compound of St Andrew’s church was built by a Parsi, Manockjee Sorabjee Ashburner in 1862. It is recorded on a slab on the main gate of the enclosure. 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). 

St Stanislaus started in 1863 as a ‘Native Boy’s orphanage’ became a high school in 1923 and was first English medium in the

In 1661 when King Charles married Catherina of Portugal, Bombay was given to England as part of the dowry. Salsette was not part of this treaty and remained with the Portuguese.

In 1739 with the threat of Maratha invasion, the Portuguese appealed to the British for help and they suggested to the Portuguese to destroy all fortifications around the chapel and the fortress Aguada. However the Marathas took over and ruled for 2 decades. But after the battle of Panipat in 1761, Maratha power declined and the British took over and Salsette including Bandra came under British rule. Portuguese were left with just Goa, Daman and Diu.

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 26th 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.

Crossing the Mahim creek was by ferry to the industrial town of Bombay. After many boats capsized, a road was built by Lady Jamsethji in 1843 at a cost of Rs.1,55,800. It was designed by Lt.Crawford and opened to public in 1845.

Railway started in 1867 with one train but 6 yrs later it was increased to 24
each day and now trains that stop at Bandra are 940.

The Tata Agiary on Hill Rd was built by Tata in memory of his wife in 1884. 

So much for my dear Bandra!

1 Comment so far

  1. Salim (unregistered) on October 19th, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

    Thanks for such a informative posting. It is really useful information. There is no mention of history of Slaughter House, Bandra Talao, Bandra municipality.

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