Interesting Facts of Old Bombay

First Physician of Mumbai

The first physician to reside in Mumbai was the versatile Garcia d’Orta, a man of great learning and culture to whom the Portuguese had given Mumbai for an amount for an annual rent £ 85.

Rents in Bombay

The various islands in Mumbai were rented out to individuals at dream prices. Mahim fetched the highest annual rent of Rs.751,  while Elephanta was rented out to Joa Pirez at the lowest price of Rs.39 a year. Mazagaon was rented out for Rs.178, while the villages of Parel, Wadala, Sion and Worli together fetched a sum of Rs.154 per annum.

St. Michael’s Church at Mahim, built by the Franciscans in 1534, is the oldest surviving church in Mumbai.

Plague in Mumbai

A great plague struck Mumbai in 1692. This was the first of the series of severe plagues that were to hit the city. It reduced the English population on the island from 800 to 80 and left 10,000 of the native population dead.

Highest dowry ever paid

Ownership of the island of Mumbai passed from the hands of the Portuguese to the Crown when Charles II married the Infanta Catherine of Braganza, Princess of Portugal, in 1661. But things were not as simple as that. A four year old drama ensued and Humphrey Cooke in the end took possession of the island of Mumbai on behalf of the British King with a small band of Englishmen to become its first Governor.

The Marriage Treaty was signed on June 23, 1661. The actual marriage ceremony took place on May 31, 1662. The Treaty contained 20 Articles as well as a Secret Article. Under Article 5, the Portuguese promised to pay a dowry of two million crowns or Portuguese curzados in two installments within one year of marriage. It was the highest dowry ever paid to any European monarch.


The fort wall was built around the present Fort area in 1715 by Governor Charles Boone, in order to protect the city against the Maratha invasion.

Boribunder Cluster of Bori Trees

Boribunder was so called because there was a cluster of Bori trees at the Bunder which was built in 1852. It was in the neighbourhood of Boribunder that the first railway station in Asia was built and was named Boribunder station in 1853. It was renamed Victoria Terminus when the Central railway headquarters building was opened in 1887, the Golden Jubilee year of the coronation of Queen Victoria.

The Bill Of Shivaji

Shivaji was estimated to possess at the time wealth amounting to more than three crores of rupees in ingots and coins. But the episode of Bill of Rs.6000/- sent by Shivaji expressed disapproval of the British presence in Mumbai. The recovery of Rs.6000/- took long time, but Shivaji made sure that British pay the bill.

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