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In the 'Conquista
Spiritual de Oriente' (about 1638) it is mentioned that in the
pre-Portuguese period (before 1534) the King gave Bandra to the Captain of
South Salsette as it was the largest village in the South Salsette
District (Salsette is the island bounded by Thane, Kurla, Bandra and
Bandra became tributary to the Portuguese in 1532.
Gerson Da Cunha in his "The Origin of Bombay" (1900),
gave us an abridgement of an account from 'Lendas
da India'. In this
account there is a description of how Diogo da Silveira brought Thane,
Bandra, Mahim and Bombay under tribute.
In 1534, King Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, ceded Vasai,
Salsette and the adjacent areas to the Portuguese. Bandra thus became a Portuguese possession.
In 1548, Bandra, Kurla, Mazagaon and four other
villages were given by the Governor of Portuguese India
to a certain Antonio Pessoa as a reward for his military services.
This was confirmed by the Royal Chancellery on the 2nd
As these villages were given for a period of 'two
lives', they reverted to the Viceroy after the death of Isabella Botelha,
the widow of Antonio Pessoa.
The Jesuits who had applied for these villages in
anticipation of the death of Isabella Botelha obtained them from the
Viceroy in 1568 and the Royal confirmation was received in 1570. The Jesuits were the owners of Bandra till 1739 when it fell
to the Marathas.
Bandra was under the British from 1st
January, 1775 till 14th August, 1947.
The name of the place has undergone a metamorphosis from 'Vandra' (Marathi) to 'Bandora' (Portuguese) to Bandra (English). Other variants were Bandor, Bandura, Bandera, Bandara, Pandara and Bandorah.
When a place grows in importance and fame we say that
it is being 'put on the map'. It
is remarkable that 'Bandura' is boldly indicated on the maps of Dr. John
Fryer (1672) and Jacques Nicolas Bellim (1740) and other maps of the
period. This fact will be
appreciated all the more when we consider that few places are indicated on
Before railways and roadways became common, waterways
were the means of communication. Places
that were situated on waterways often prospered. Bandra is an example of this.
Bandra was (and is) situated on the south-west
extremity of the island of Salsette; in fact Bandra itself was called an
island. It lay north of the
creek or rather waterway that led to the Bombay harbour. Before this waterway was rendered useless due to the building
of the Mahim and Sion causeways, silting and reclamation, boats used to
pass between Mahim and proceeded via
Sion to the Bombay harbour. Therefore
there were many fortifications on both sides of this waterway : forts at
Worli, Mahim and Sion on the South and two at Bandra and one at Kurla on
the north of this waterway.
The Jesuit, Fr. Monclaro, writing in the 1570s says
that Bandra "is a harbour and a good stopping place for the ships
coming from the south or from the north and intending to move
We have many references about Bandra as a port.
For example, among the 'conditions' laid down on 14th January,
1665, when Bombay was being ceded to the English we have : "That the
port of Bandra in the island of Salsette nor any other islands shall be
impeded and all vessels from that port or ports, and others coming to
them, shall be allowed to pass and repass very frankly…"
In Vol. XIV, pg. 15 of the Gazetteer of the Bombay
Presidency (1882) Bandra is described as a port and we can obtain the
annual value of the imports and exports of Bandra from the years 1874-1881
from Vol. XIII, pt.2, pgs. 354 & 355.
Some of the early writers call Bandra a town.
John Fryer who visited Bandra in 1675 writes : "The town is
large and houses tiled; it is called Bandura…. It is also called a
village. Fr. Gomes Vaz,
writing in 1576 says : "Bandra
is a very fine village". This
large village was comprised of more than 20 hamlets or 'pakhadis'.
Today each of these is popularly called a village but technically
they are hamlets.
From the church registers, other records and
gravestones we know the names of the extant and extinct hamlets.
a) The following hamlets (pakhadias) existing during the Portuguese period - ending May 1739) may be mentioned:
i) Chuim cultivators
ii)Candely - cultivators - extinct after 1732 - near Chuim
iii) Rajan - cultivators - Port. Rajana
iv)Sherly - cultivators - Port. Sellaly
v)Malla - culltivators - Port. Mallem
vi) Palli - cultivators - Port. Pallem
vii) Parvar - cultivators - extinct after 1853 - between Dr. Ambedkar Road and Khar Gymkhana
viii) Old Kantwadi - cultivators - Port. Horta de Santo Andre - N.B. New Kantwadi comes into existence in 1817- likewise hamlet of cultivatorix)
ix) Ranwar - cultivators - Port. Ranoar
x) Boran - cultivators - Port. Dandacavar
xi) Tank - cultivators - Port. Tanque
xii) Patarvar - cultivators - extinct after 1817- north of St. Joseph Convent.
xii) Santa Cruz - toddy-tappers and cultivators
xiv) Khar - Bois and "cavoqueiros" - Port. Salgado
xv) Cumbarvara - Bois and potters - near Khar
xvi) Catirvara - Bois - near Khar
xvii) Povoacao - Portuguese and their household staff - D’Monte Street extending to the old Slaughter House site.
Besides the above there were the following localities: miscellaneous population - near Povoacao
xviii) Horta do Bazar (Bazar Oart ) - "Faras" - scavengers - near Chinchpokli Road
xix) Rua do Bazar - (Bazar Streert) -miscellaneous populatiom
xx) Rua dos Tintoreiros (Dyers’ Street)- miscellaneous population ; located most probably near the Bazar
xxi) Rua Baixa (Lower Street) -
xxii) Bazar- mixed population - location at present Bandra Bazar
All the above pakhadis (hamlets) , the Povoacao and the four localities comprise the parish of Santa Anna (Old Slaughter-house site - between the railway lines and Swami Vivekanand Road. Also belonging to the parish of Santa Anna are potters, toddy-tappers, weavers, mainatos (washermen) and other non-Koli groups/castes not ascribed to any particular pakhadi/locality.
To St. Andrew’s parish pertained all the koliwadas (hamlets inhabited by Kolis) thus:
i) Colaria Grande - near Chapel Road
ii)Colaria de Meio - Bazar area
iii} Colaria Mora - near Bandra Bunder
iv)Colaria Naopara - Old Ghodbunder Road
v) Colaria da Igreja - Chimbai
vi) Colaria Zaitucali - north of Mount Carmel church
vii) Supali - Near Supali Talao ground
viii) Colai - Near Seaside Cemetery
N.B. The first six above named koliwadas are mentioned in the baptismal register of Santa Anna because some of the godparents of children/persons baptised in Santa Anna were parishioners of St. Andrew’s.
The island of Salsette on which Bandra was located was
often referred to as a granary. Dr.
John Fryer who visited Salsette in 1673-75 writes :"the ground
excellently fertile either of itself or by the care of the inhabitants,
that it yields as good Cabbages, Coleworts and better Radishes than ever I
yet saw: Besides Garden -
Fruit, here are incomparable Water-Melons,
and Onions as sweet, and as well tasted as an Apple; and for the natural
growth of the soil, it is known not only to supply the adjoining Islands,
but Goa also. It is more than
20 Miles in Length and 70 in Circumference".
In Bandra itself there were extensive paddy fields,
vegetable gardens and coconut 'oarts'.
Besides there were mango groves on the hill-sides and brab trees in
Rice was the chief crop grown in Bandra.
When there was friction between the English in Bombay and the
Portuguese in Salsette, "the Portuguese forbade the export of rice
from Bandra" (Gazeteer, Vol. XIII, Pt. 2, pg. 478)
Humbert, in his 'Catholic Bombay, Her Priests and their
Training' informs us that in 1706, there was a loss suffered by St. Paul's
College, Goa, due to the plague among the farmers in Bandra.
Information from various sources and archives and courtesy of Clarence Fernandes and Fr Larry Pereira; Information taken from the book 'Bandra - the Catholic Heritage' in publication.