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History of Mumbai

The British Bombay has become Mumbai in 1995.The name is derived from Mmnba Aai- the deity worshipped by Koli fishermen. According to some other opinion, Portuguese term Buon Bahia meaning Good Ocean in European pronunciation became Bombay in 17th century. However reference of Boa Vida (good standard of living) is available in the writing of Jao De Castro in 1538. The name of the island Bombay was first mentioned by Johu Viau in 1626. The British awarded the title of London of the East to the then beautiful Bombay . In the ancient period (273-232BC) Bombay or today's Mumbai was part of the Maurya empire. Ptolemy referred to Mumbai as Heptanesia or the land of seven islands in his writings. In 1348 these Hindu islands came under the control of Muslim Sultans of Gujarat. And the king of Portugal took over Bombay on 23 Dec, 1534. According to the Varshai treaty, the Sultan of Gujarat Bahadur Shah gifted Bombay and thereby acknowledged submission to Portugese crown. In 1549 Dr Parsia Orta bought the then Bombay by paying only Rs 537. And in 1625 the Dutch captured Bombay . Being happy with the booty, they returned home. On 23 June, 1661, the British King Charles" married Princess Catherine and got Bombay as a dowry from the Portugal King.

Colaba, Fort, Bycula, Parel, Worli, Matunga and Mahim-these seven islands constitute greater Bombay having an area of 5 sq km. However today they have all merged and taken the shape of peninsula. In the past it was the land of Koli fishermen. The British King took over the control of all 7 islands in 1665. In 1668 the British gave leasehold right of Bombay to East India Company for an annual revenue of £ 10 (gold) starling. Thus began the growth of Bombay by the East India Company. At Thane creek a bridge was constructed, connecting the mainland with the islands. The port was also developed. The Europeans also lived at that time in the port area or fort. However Surat , the British HQ in India built in 1662, emerged as the rival to Bombay . In 1670 Persis settled in Bombay . The contributions of Persis towards the growth of Bombay are also remarkable. In 1687 the Presidency of East India Company was shifted from Surat to Bombay . At that time Bombay was unrivalled in ship-building industry. In 1708 the main trading centre of the west coast was set up in Bombay . On 17 Feb, 1803 the devastating fire destroyed the public life of Bombay and the British then rebuilt the city. From north to south the city was extended over a stretch of 20 km.

The 19th century brought boons and blessing to Bombay . The defeat of Marathas in Kirki war of 1817 resulted in the flourishment of Bombay Port and its hinterland. Even during the American Civil War (1809-16), the cotton from Bombay captured the world market. Bombay then experienced Industrial Revolution. Persis constructed ship building yard. Indian rail started its first journey from Mumbai in 1853. The first cotton mill was built in 1854. During freedom struggle in 1857, the frightened British felt secured in Mumbai. In 1869 when Suez Canal was opened, the movement across water became more rapid. In 1862 the British took up the project to join seven islands by land-filling the sea. The past history of Mumbai is amusing as well as romantic. Present day Mumbai seems to be changing and getting new form everyday. And on 26 January 1995, Bombay changed to Mumbai.

The main feature of the industrial and commercial city Mumbai is its gorgeous and dazzling sky scrappers- developed by land-filling the coastal line of the Arabian Sea . Gradually the ocean is in retreat as the sprawling megopolis encroches the sea. Migration of people from rest of India to Mumbai in search of fortune has been increasing. Mumbai is awarded the best city in India . Not only in India , Mumbai as a modern city, called the commercial capital of the country ranks 6th in the world. Various commercial houses from India and abroad have set up their offices in Mumbai. 46% of total India 's foreign trades are transacted through Mumbai. Roads are smooth and transportation system is beautifu1.The social life is modelled along the western style with high standard of living. The cost of living is also expensive as well. Suburban railway network around Mumbai are excellent. In the heart of the city is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Church Gate; though central is name, Mumbai Central Rly Stn is far away from the central location-these three railway stations facing three directions have surrounded the city .Electric trains and Govt buses of BEST (Bombay Electric Supply and Transport) have created a Cobweb of communication to every locality of Greater Mumbai. Then there are CBD buses in Central Business District area of the city. Meter taxis with yellow hoods are available very easily. Auto, rickshaws mainly ply in the suburbs beyond city centre. One may easily tour Greater Mumbai by buses and trains.

Foundation of Bombay city

s In 1782 William Hornby, then Governor of Bombay Presidency, initiated the project of connecting the isles. The Hornby Vellard was the first of the engineering projects, started in 1784, despite opposition from the directors of the East India Company. The cost of the vellard was estimated at Rs. 100,000. The project gained momentum in 1817, and by 1845 the seven southern islands had been connected to form Old Bombay, with an area of 435 km². Railway viaducts and road bridges were built in the 19th century to connect Bombay island to Sashti, and Sashti to the mainland. These railway lines encouraged wealthier merchants to build villas on Sashti, and by 1901 the population of Sashti was 146,993, and became known as Greater Bombay. The channels separating Bombay and Trombay islands from Sashti Island were filled in the early 20th century. Charles II, eager to set up base in India , leased the islands in 1668 to the fledgling British East India Company for a paltry sum of £ 10 per annum in gold. The company, in search of a deep water port for its large vessels, found the deep harbour opposite for this purpose. After the East India Company shifted base to the islands in 1668, Sir George Oxenden became the first governor of the new province. He was succeeded by Gerald Aungier in 1672. He offered various incentives to skilled workers and traders to move to this British possession. The opportunities for business attracted many communities from Gujarat - the Parsis, the Dawoodi Bohras, the Jews and the Gujarati community. Aungier was given the title "Father of Bombay" by historians as it was his foresight to develop the islands into a centre of commerce to rival other ports which were in the hands of other kingdoms which resulted in the boom in the economy. He fortified defences by embarking on the construction of the Bombay Castle and established courts of law to provide justice.

In 1682, the Company fortified an isle - The Middle Ground Coastal Battery in the archipelago to curb the sea piracy in the area. Later a marine police force comprising of Bhandaris were stationed there to keep an eye on the pirates who used to board the ships. The police were a formidable sight and soon the area was devoid of pirates. After surpassing Surat in importance as the Company's chief port on the west coast the population was estimated to rise from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. In 1687, the presidency of the East India Company shifted from Surat to Bombay and consequently it became its headquarters in 1708. In 1715 the construction of Bombay Castle was finished. The southern limit of the castle was the present day Flora Fountain area where a gate stood. The castle also known as Fort St George or Bombay Fort fortified the island of Bombay from a sea attack by the Portuguese and Mughals. This enclave proved to be a safe haven for many skilled workers away from the power struggles on the mainland. The shipbuilding industry moved to Bombay from Surat with the coming of the Wadias who were Parsis. In 1753, the Naval Dockyard was opened which remains the oldest docks in the city. Artisans from Gujarat, such as goldsmiths, ironsmiths and weavers moved to the islands and coexisted with the slave trade from Madagascar . During this time period, the first land-use laws were set up in Bombay , segregating the British part of the islands from the black town. In 1757, Kamathis, construction workers from Andhra Pradesh arrived here and set up base. The region was the low-lying area near present day Mahalaxmi. The region became known as Kamathipura, now notorious for its red-light area. In 1794 the Presidency Post Office was established.

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