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(Redirected from Bombay)
This article is about the city formerly known as Bombay. For other uses of this word, see Bombay (disambiguation)
Mumbai (Bombay)
Classification Metropolitan City
Country India
State Maharashtra


18.96 ° N

72.82 ° E



12,622,500 (2004)[1]

28,834/ km2

Dial Code 22
Time zone UTC +5:30 (IST)
Area 437.77 km2
Coastal Length 140 km
Altitude 8 metres average

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is the world's most populous conurbation, and is the sixth most populous agglomeration in the world. Mumbai is located on the west coast of India and is the capital of the state of Maharashtra. The city is located on an island with a deep natural harbour and is the nation's commercial capital. The name was officially changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, but the former name is still popularly used in the West and by many of the city's inhabitants.



Mumbai is an eponym derived from the local Hindu goddess, Mumbadevi, whose worship extends back to the 1400's. In the 16th c., the Portuguese named the area Bom Bahia which means Good Bay. The name was later corrupted to Bomaím. After gaining possession of the isles, the British anglicised the name to Bombay. The city was renamed to Mumbai in 1995.

The city originally consisted of seven little isles. It was part of the kingdom of Ashoka and then various Hindu rulers of the Silhara dynasty until 1343, when it was annexed by the kingdom of Gujerat.

1888 German map of Bombay, now Mumbai
1888 German map of Bombay, now Mumbai

In 1534 the Portuguese took the islands from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. The islands remained in their hands until 1661, when it ceded as the dowry of Catherine de Braganza to Charles II of England. He, in turn leased it to the British East India Company in 1668 for £10 per annum. The company found the deep harbour at Bombay eminently apposite, and the population rose from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. In 1687, the East India Company transferred their headquarters there from Surat.

Completed in 1784, the Hornby Vellard was the first of the engineering projects aimed at joining the seven islands. William Hornby, then Governor of Bombay, initiated the project in 1782 despite opposition from the directors of the East India Company. The cost of the vellard was estimated at Rs. 100,000.

From 1817 the city was reshaped with large civil engineering projects merging the seven islands into one single mass of around 435 km² by 1845. In 1853 the country's first railway link completed, between Bombay and Thana. The city remained in Company hands until after the Revolt of 1857 when it was taken by the Crown.

The city's economy got a major boost during the American Civil War, (18611865) with the city becoming the world's chief cotton market. In 1869, the opening up of the Suez Canal, shortened the time between the city and Europe and developed into a major port.

Up to the end of the Second World War, Bombay covered only about 67 km² of land from Colaba in the south to Mahim and Sion in the north. The city witnessed large scale Hindu-Muslim riots just before India's independence in 1947.

In 1950, the city expanded northward with the inclusion of portions of Salsette Island, and by 1957 a number of suburban towns — including Bandra, Andheri, Malad & Borivali — and some villages of Thane were incorporated into Greater Bombay, with an area of 169 square miles (434 km²).

In 1960, the city became the capital of the new state of Maharashtra. A series of land reclamations from the sea in the 1970s and the mushrooming of sky-scrapers reinforced the city's status as the premier city of the country. In 1992 large scale Hindu-Muslim riots affected the entire city. In March 1993 simultaneous bombings of the city's institutions killed 300. Since the early 2000s the city's urbs primus status has been challenged by New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

The city limits

The city originally extended from the southern tip of the peninsula to the Mahim and Sion Creeks in the north. This region was called Old Bombay (the downtown area), and the area north of this was called Greater Bombay. Old Bombay being a city didn't have a district capital, whereas a capital was created in the largely semi-urban uptown Greater Bombay. However with the population boom, the city limits were expanded up to Dahisar in the north and Mulund in the northeast.

The terms Old and Greater Bombay are almost archaic. It is now more commonly known as town and suburbs respectively. The terms townie and suburbanite are used to refer to populace of the two regions. Despite the blurring of boundaries, highway milestones are still calibrated keeping Flora Fountain in South Bombay as the starting point of the city.

Residents of the neighbouring townships of Mira Road, Thané and the satellite city of New Bombay often refer to themselves as city residents, as they share the same area and postal codes; often creating confusion in the minds of outsiders.

Geography and climate

Mumbai spans an area 438 km² the city is on a peninsula on the island of Salcette. Because of this, the Mumbai (town) is often called the Island city. The city is spread linearly along the Arabian Sea coast. The city has a tropical climate with moderate to high levels of humidity. The moderating influence of the Arabian Sea ensures that there is very little fluctuation of seasonal temperatures. The warmest months of the year are March and October with temperature around 37-38 degrees Celsius. The coolest month is January with the day temperature around 26 degrees Celsius. Annual rainfall averages between 1.8 m and 2.4 m.

The city used to be seven hilly isles. When the isles were merged to form a monolithic island, these hills were razed and used to fill the shallows. Partly because of this, some parts of the city lie below sea level. Many parts of the city are still hilly. The highest point in the city is about 450 m and lies in the Powai-Kanheri range in the Borivali National Park. The city lies on a fault line and is earthquake prone (Zone 3 — up to a magnitude of 6.5). The geology of the area shows that the islands are composed of black basalt rock.

The city being adjacent to water, the temperature changes are not as drastic as those inland. Mumbai enjoys its monsoon showers from June to September with the annual rainfall being around 2.2 m (85 in). The city experiences light fog in the northern reaches of the city in Dec/Jan. Hailstones are rare. The lowest recorded temperature is 7 °C (45 °F) in 1962, the highest, 42 °C (108 °F). Temperatures (max/min): Jan: 25/12 °C (77/54 °F) May: 35/28 °C (95/82 °F) July: 30/26 °C (86/79 °F) Oct: 38/23 °C (100/73 °F).


The city is run by a municipal corporation, the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) which takes care of the civic duties. The head of the corporation is the Mayor. Although he is voted to power, his role is largely ceremonial. The person with the actual executive powers is the Municipal Commissioner, an IAS officer.

The city has its own police department, the Mumbai Police. The Police Commissioner heads the police force, and is appointed by the state government. Since the city is also composed of two districts, two District Collectors are also appointed. Their role is largely curtailed as compared to their rural counterparts. Their job is to approve new construction and oversee national elections.


Marine Drive, located in the heart of the city
Marine Drive, located in the heart of the city

As the country's commercial capital, Mumbai houses the headquarters of almost all major companies. The Reserve Bank of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange, forms the heart of commercial India and is situated in South Bombay. The city contributes 40% of India's income tax, and Rs. 40,000 crores (9 billion US $) as annual corporate tax; the highest in the country. Mumbai is also the epicentre of India's film industry — Bollywood, which is the largest in the world in terms of the number of films produced annually.


Most of the city inhabitants rely on public transportation to travel to their workplace. Public buses and trains handle most of this traffic.

External Transportation

Long distance train at CST station
Long distance train at CST station
CST Railway Station
CST Railway Station

Internal Transportation

See also: Railway stations in Bombay


A resident of the city may be called either a Bombayite or a Mumbaikar. Within the city, people often correlate themselves to the nearest railway station on the suburban railway network where they live or work.

Most of the citizens of Mumbai are very liberal and open-minded. The city is consequently one of the least conservative cities of India. Many city-dwellers lead a fast-paced life with very little time for other activities. Partly because of this, the majority of the residents have developed an indifferent attitude to the problems facing the country and the city. However, there are those who take immense pride in the upkeep and development of the city. Most of the city's inhabitants are knowledgeable and keep abreast of national and international events.

Citizens share an indefatigable spirit in times of crises, a fact attested to by the collective reaction to a recent spate of terrorist bombings and deluges; the affected citizens in areas badly-scarred resumed their businesses in the days immediately following the catastrophes.

What astonishes most visitors to the city, particularly those not native to India, are the unconventional means by which some citizens eke out their living. Dhobis, street hawkers and dabbawallas are some who have unconventional vocations that are the quintessence of the city.


The most common language spoken on the city streets is a mutated form of Hindi, known as Bambaiya Hindi, which is a mix of Hindi, Marathi, English and a few invented colloquial words. While Marathi is the official language of the state of Maharashtra, it is not as widely spoken as Hindi. English is also extensively spoken and understood by most of the inhabitants. It is also the principal language spoken amongst the city's white collar workforce. As there is a significant population of people from the neighbouring state of Gujarat, Gujarati is spoken by many.


Mumbai has spawned a whole new urban culture of it own. The metropolis has its own local roadside fast food consisting of vada pavs and bhelpuri. Denizens have their own unique tastes in cuisine, music, films and literature, both Indian and international. The city artistically blends western and Indian celebrations and festivals which are celebrated by one and all. Mumbai resonates with a vibrant buzz and is often said to be the 'city that never sleeps'. It also has a famed nightlife albeit with a few restrictions.

In 2004, Mumbai received three heritage conservation awards from UNESCO.


Main article: Demographics of Mumbai

The largest city in India, the city's population is also one of the highest in the world with over 12.6 million residents. The density is 28,834 per square kilometre. There are 811 females to every 1000 males. This figure is mainly due to the fact that many males with families in rural areas work in the city. Mumbai has a modest literacy rate of 77%, though much higher than the national average. Out of this figure 82% of adult males and 71.6% of adult females are literate. 68% of the city's residents are Hindus, 17% are Muslim, 4% Christian & 4% Buddhist. The remaining 6% are followers of Parsi, Jain, Sikh and Jewish religions and Atheist ideology.


Mumbai city has a large number of premiere educational institutions. There are two universities, The University of Mumbai and the SNDT Women's University. The Mumbai University has almost all the colleges in Mumbai affiliated to it.

There are 1,188 public municipal primary schools: (as on 1 September, 1999) as well as numerous private schools. Almost all of the private schools use English as the medium of instruction.


Cricket is the most popular sport in the city. It is widely watched, and on days when the Indian team plays important matches, the city almost comes to a standstill. The city has two functional cricket stadiums. Many parts of the city are dotted with maidans, (sports grounds), where cricket is widely played. The next most popular sport is football, and is particularly played in the monsoon months. The hockey stadium near Churchgate used to hold international matches.

Other sports are mostly played in the numerous clubs and gymkhanas include tennis, squash, billiards, badminton, table tennis and golf. Bombay also has a rugby club, the only one in the country. Every February, Mumbai holds the Derby equestrian races.

Arts & Entertainment

Taj Hotel
Taj Hotel

Being at the epicentre of Indian cinema, the city has a large number of cinemas. The oldest film shot in the country was taken in 1896 in the Kala Ghoda area. Numerous cinemas and multiplexes catering to mainstream Bollywood and Hollywood films dot the city. The world's largest IMAX dome theatre is located in Bombay. Besides cinemas, the city hosts various plays and cultural performances. There are also two art galleries and a museum in South Bombay.

Present problems

The booming population is the highest concern as it puts a severe strain on the infrastructure. The city is slated to replace Tokyo as the world's most populous city by 2020. Real estate prices are among the highest in the world due to the lack of available area on the island. This lack of cheap accommodation has seen slums such as Dharavi mushrooming all over the city. Frequent flooding in parts of Bombay during the monsoon months brings transportation to its knees. In parts of the city, there are water shortfalls in the summer months. With the public transportation bursting at the seams, commuting has become a nightmare. Solutions such as new flyovers and light elevated rail are currently being studied for their viability.




Important phone numbers

  • 100 — Police
  • 101 — Fire
  • 102 — Ambulance
  • 108 — Disaster Report
  • 1916 — Civic Complaint
  • 28888888 - General phone number enquiry

Radio stations

  • Go 92.5 — 92.5 MHz
  • Radio Mirchi — 98.3 MHz
  • Win FM — 94.6 MHz
  • Radio City — 91 MHz
  • AIR FM Rainbow — 107.1 MHz
  • AIR FM Gold — 100.7 MHz
  • Red FM — 93.5 MHz

Related articles

See also

External links

Last updated: 11-06-2004 20:31:12