City of Dreams, Financial Capital, Maximum City, there are tons of epithets that Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) has earned over the years and why not! Arguably one of the most fascinating cities in the country, Mumbai has a rich historical legacy, past and cosmopolitanism that is hard to put in words as Mumbaikars will tell you. The spirit and resilience of citizens is the stuff of legend; they have braved terrorist attacks, blasts, floods and what not over the years! Yet, Mumbai continues to be the Dream Factory for millions of Indian aspirations, be it wanting to make it big in Bollywood or even in the world of business which is why thousands land up in the city each day to pursue their dreams.
Mumbai is Maharashtra’s State Capital and is the second highest populated metro in the country in tandem with the MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region). Mumbai is positioned on the Konkan Coast in Western India with a big natural harbour. It was listed as an alpha world city back in the year 2008. Mumbai also has the distinction of being the country’s financial city and wealthiest city with the highest number of billionaires and millionaires living here. It is home to some of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Elephanta Caves and several iconic buildings.
Mumbai is comprised of 7 islands that were originally occupied by members of the Koli community from Gujarat. Several empires controlled these islands before they were given to the Portuguese Empire and then to the East India Company in the year 1661 when England’s Charles II married Catherine of Braganza and received the Seven Islands of Bombay and ports of Tangier as dowry. The Hornby Vellard project in the mid-18th century was a landmark moment for Bombay when reclamation was undertaken between the islands from the Arabian Sea. This project led to the building of railways and key roads and was completed in 1845. This made Bombay a huge seaport and in the 19th century took place much of its early economic and educational progress. In early 20th century, Bombay was a key base for the Indian Independence Struggle. Post-independence, it got incorporated into Bombay State and in 1960, after the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, it became the capital of the new State of Maharashtra.
Mumbai is truly a unique city since it is India’s entertainment, financial and commercial capital and one of the top 10 commerce centres globally, accounting for a sizable portion of the country’s GDP and much of its maritime trade and industrial output. The city is home to the RBI (Reserve Bank of India), National Stock Exchange of India, Bombay Stock Exchange, SEBI and corporate headquarters for several large Indian corporates and MNCs. Mumbai is home to the Hindi film industry (Bollywood) and also the Marathi film industry. Mumbai is also home to the TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Atomic Energy Commission of India. Mumbai is known as a melting pot of diverse cultures, communities and lifestyles. It is the stuff of legends, the theatre of dreams, the pinnacle of aspirations and of course, the co-existence of diverse religions, cultures, tastes and preferences bound together by the spirit of hard work and perseverance.
Keep watching this space as we will delve deeper into the city’s cultural and commercial leanings in Part II.