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’. In Marathi, Bandra is known asVandre, which also means ‘port’ and is possibly derived from the same Urdu/Persian word. The area was under the rule of theSilhara 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.
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 inBaçaim 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.
In 1661, when King Charles married Catherina of Portugal, the island of Mumbai was given to England as part of the dowry. However, Salsette Island, on which Bandra lay, was not part of this treaty and remained with the Portuguese. The Portuguese built additional churches in Bandra, one of the earliest beingSt. 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.
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.
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 amunicipality 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.
Mount Mary’s Church
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 theBandra 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.
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.
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.
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 thePartition of India, it was relocated to its present site in 1949 in Bandra.
The Thadomal Shahani Engineering Collegewas 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 Mumbaito offer courses in Computer Engineering,Information Technology, Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology.
The Rizvi Education Complex, located offCarter 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.
There are various professional training and coaching schools in Bandra with most prominent being IMS India, Vidyalankar, Sadguru, Arihant Tutorials, Resonance, etc.
Main article: Bandra Talao
Bandra Lake, also called “Bandra Talao” or “Motha Reservoir” was constructed by a richKonkani Muslim of Navpada (also spelt Naupada or Naopara), an adjoining village.
The lake was later acquired by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. It was officially renamed Swami Vivekanand Sarovar. Paddle boating facilities andpisciculture activities were operational in this lake during the 1990s but have since stopped. 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 directorMehboob 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.
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.
- 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.
Worli skyline as seen from Bandra Reclamation
A stall on Linking Road
Bandra Worli SeaLink Project
Bandra railway station is connected via theWestern 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 – JaipurExpress, 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.