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Our city, through five centuries of its existence

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash traces the creation of this spectacular city right from the sixteenth century, when it was a scattering of sparsely inhabited islands, to the sprawling metropolis it is today.

Prakash has peeked into innumerable stories and articles about the Bombay of old, featured in newspapers and magazines over the decades to provide us with rare glimpses of a city that is constantly in some sort of metamorphosis. The stories and observations with pictures and illustrations are not arranged in any chronological sequence, so you have history in something of a potpourri, which does not detract from its purpose because of the book being so well-written. There are plentiful insights and facts that readers may recall with nostalgia and maybe some consternation.

After Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut on the southwestern coast of India in May 1498, the Portuguese, under viceroy Francisco de Almeida, carried out their first raid on Bombay in 1509. In 1532, a sizeable fleet of one hundred ships, led by Nuno da Cunha, the Portuguese governor-general of India, attacked and seized Bassein Fort.

The sultan of Gujarat, who had dominion over the region, conceded defeat and signed a treaty surrendering authority over Bassein, its dependent territories, and its seas to the King of Portugal. The new rulers built their headquarters at Bassein from where they ruled Bombay, which comprised of seven little islands – Colaba, Old Woman’s Island, Bombaim or Bom Bahia, Mazagaon, Parel, Worli and Mahim.

Read on then about how the East India Company, seeing the potential of Bombay as a naval base because of its natural harbour, along with the Dutch, attacked the city in 1626. In 1661, we were handed over as dowry to the English when Catherine of Braganza married Charles II.

It was the British who developed the place as a commercial centre and invited the rest of India to take residence here. It is all covered, the plague of 1896, floods 2005, the terror attacks, the rise of the Shiv Sena, the dons, Bollywood and the BMC. Buy and get acquainted.

Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash
Price Rs.599


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