1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bombay Presidency
BOMBAY PRESIDENCY, a province or presidency of British India, consisting partly of British districts, and partly of native states under the administration of a governor. This territory extends from 13° 53′ to 28° 45′ N., and from 66° 40′ to 76° 30′ E., and is bounded on the N. by Baluchistan, the Punjab and Rajputana; on the E. by Indore, the Central Provinces and Hyderabad; on the S. by Madras and Mysore; and on the W. by the Arabian Sea. Within these limits lie the Portuguese settlements of Diu, Damaun and Goa, and the native state of Baroda which has direct relations with the government of India; while politically Bombay includes the settlement of Aden. The total area, including Sind but excluding Aden, is 188,745 sq. m., of which 122,984 sq. m. are under British and 65,761 under native rule. The total population (1901) is 25,468,209, of which 18,515,587 are resident in British territory and 6,908,648 in native states. The province is divided into four commissionerships and twenty-six districts. The four divisions are the northern or Gujarat, the central or Deccan, the southern or Carnatic, and Sind. The twenty-six districts are: Bombay City, Ahmedabad, Broach, Kaira, Panch Mahals, Surat, Thana, Ahmednagar, Khandesh (partitioned into two districts in 1906), Nasik, Poona, Satara, Sholapur, Belgaum, Bijapur, Dharwar, Kanara, Kolaba, Ratnagiri, Karachi, Hyderabad, Shikarpur, Thar and Parkar, and Upper Sind Frontier. The native states comprise in all 353 separate units, which are administered either by political agents or by the collectors of the districts in which the smaller states are situated. The chief groups of states are North Gujarat, comprising Cutch, Kathiawar agency, Palanpur agency, Mahi Kantha agency, Rewa Kantha agency and Cambay; South Gujarat, comprising Dharampur, Bansda and Sachin; North Konkan, Nasik and Khandesh, comprising Khandesh political agency, Surgana and Jawhar; South Konkan and Dharwar, comprising Janjira, Sawantwari and Savanur; the Deccan Satara Jagirs, comprising Akalkot, Bhor, Aundh, Phaltan, Jath and Daphlapur; the southern Mahratta states, comprising Kolhapur and other states, and Khairpur in Sind. The native states under the supervision of the government of Bombay are divided, historically and geographically, into two main groups. The northern or Gujarat group includes the territories of the gaekwar of Baroda, with the smaller states which form the administrative divisions of Cutch, Palanpur, Rewa Kantha, and Mahi Kantha. These territories, with the exception of Cutch, have an historical connexion, as being the allies or tributaries of the gaekwar in 1805, when final engagements were included between that prince and the British government. The southern or Mahratta group includes Kolhapur, Akalkot, Sawantwari, and the Satara and southern Mahratta Jagirs, and has an historical bond of union in the friendship they showed to the British in their final struggle with the power of the peshwa in 1818. The remaining territories may conveniently be divided into a small cluster of independent zamin-daris, situated in the wild and hilly tracts at the northern extremity of the Sahyadri range, and certain principalities which, from their history or geographical position, are to some extent isolated from the rest of the presidency.
Physical Aspects.—The Bombay Presidency consists of a long strip of land along the Indian Ocean from the south of the Punjab to the north of Mysore. The coast is rock-bound and difficult of access; and though it contains several bays forming fairweather ports for vessels engaged in the coasting trade, Bombay, Karachi-in-Sind, Marmagoa and Karwar alone have harbours sufficiently land-locked to protect shipping during the prevalence of the south-west monsoon. The coast-line is regular and little broken, save by the Gulfs of Cambay and Cutch, between which lies the peninsula of Kathiawar.
Speaking generally, a range of hills, known as the Western Ghats, runs down the coast, at places rising in splendid bluffs and precipices from the water’s edge, at others retreating inland, and leaving a flat fertile strip of 5 to 50 m. between their base and the sea. In the north of the Mountains. presidency on the right bank of the Indus, the Hala mountains, a continuation of the great Suleiman range, separate British India from the dominions of the khan of Kalat. Leaving Sind, and passing by the ridges of low sandhills,—the leading feature of the desert east of the Indus,—and the isolated hills of Cutch and Kathiawar, which form geologically the western extremity of the Aravalli range, the first extensive mountain range is that separating Gujarat from the states of central India. The rugged and mountainous country south of the Tapti forms the northern extremity of the Sahyadri or Western Ghats. This great range of hills, sometimes overhanging the ocean, and generally running parallel to it at a distance nowhere exceeding 50 m., with an average elevation of about 1800 ft., contains individual peaks rising to more than double that height. They stretch southwards for upwards of 500 m., with a breadth of 10 to 20 m. The western declivity is abrupt, the land at the base of the hills being but slightly raised above the level of the sea. As is usually the case with the trap formation, they descend to the plains in terraces with abrupt fronts. The landward slope is in many places very gentle, the crest of the range being sometimes but slightly raised above the level of the plateau of the Deccan. Their best-known elevation is Mahabaleshwar, 4500 ft. high, a fine plateau, 37 m. from Poona, covered with rich vegetation, and used by the Bombay government as its summer retreat and sanitarium. In the neighbourhood of the Sahyadri hills, particularly towards the northern extremity of the range, the country is rugged and broken, containing isolated peaks, masses of rock and spurs, which, running eastward, form watersheds for the great rivers of the Deccan. The Satpura hills separate the valley of the Tapti from the valley of the Nerbudda, and the district of Khandesh from the territories of Indore. The Satmala or Ajanta hills, which are rather the northern slope of the plateau than a distinct range of hills, separate Khandesh from the Nizam’s Dominions.
The more level parts of Bombay consist of five well-demarcated tracts—Sind, Gujarat, the Konkan, the Deccan, and the Carnatic. Sind, or the lower valley of the Indus, is very flat, with but scanty vegetation, and depending for productiveness entirely on irrigation. Gujarat, except on its northern Plains. parts, consists of rich, highly cultivated alluvial plains, watered by the Tapti and Nerbudda, but not much subject to inundation. The Konkan lies between the Western Ghats and the sea. It is a rugged and difficult country, intersected by creeks, and abounding in isolated peaks and detached ranges of hills. The plains of the Deccan and Khandesh are watered by large rivers, but as the rainfall is uncertain, they are generally, during the greater part of the year, bleak and devoid of vegetation. The Carnatic plain, or the country south of the river Kistna, consists of extensive tracts of black or cotton soil in a high state of cultivation.
The chief river of western India is the Indus, which enters the presidency from the north of Sind and flowing south in a tortuous course, falls into the Arabian Sea by several mouths, such as the Ghizri creek, Khudi creek, Pitiani creek, Sisa creek, Hajamro creek, Vatho creek, Mall creek, Wari Rivers. creek, Bhitiara creek, Sir creek and Khori creek. In the dry season the bed varies at different places from 480 to 1600 yds. The flood season begins in March and continues till September, the average depth of the river rising from 9 to 24 ft., and the velocity of the current increasing from 3 to 7 m. an hour. Next to the Indus comes the Nerbudda. Rising in the Central Provinces, and traversing the dominions of Holkar, the Nerbudda enters the presidency at the north-western extremity of the Khandesh district, flows eastward, and after a course of 700 m. from its source, falls into the Gulf of Cambay, forming near its mouth the alluvial plain of Broach, one of the richest districts of Bombay. For about 100 m. from the sea the Nerbudda is at all seasons navigable by small boats, and during the rains by vessels of from 30 to 50 tons burden. The Tapti enters the presidency a few miles south of the town of Burhanpur, a station on the Great Indian Peninsula railway, flows eastward through the district of Khandesh, the native state of Rewa Kantha and the district of Surat, and falls into the Gulf of Cambay, a few miles west of the town of Surat. The Tapti drains about 250 m. of country, and is, in a commercial point of view, the most useful of the Gujarat rivers. Besides these there are many minor streams. The Banas and the Saraswati take their rise in the Aravalli hills, and flowing eastward through the native state of Palanpur, fall into the Runn of Cutch. The Sabarmati and the Mahi rise in the Mahi Kantha hills, and flowing southwards, drain the districts of Northern Gujarat, and fall into the sea near the head of the Gulf of Cambay. The streams which, rising in the Sahyadri range, or Western Ghats, flow westward into the Arabian Sea, are of little importance. During the rains they are formidable torrents, but with the return of the fair weather they dwindle away, and during the hot season, with a few exceptions, they almost dry up. Clear and rapid as they descend the hills, on reaching the lowlands of the Konkan they become muddy and brackish creeks. The Kanarese rivers have a larger body of water and a more regular flow than the streams of the Konkan. One of them, the Sharawati, forcing its way through the western ridge of the Ghats, plunges from the high to the low country by a succession of falls, the principal of which is 800 ft. in height. The Sahyadri, or Western Ghats, also throw off to the eastward the two principal rivers of the Madras Presidency, the Godavari and the Kistna. These rivers collect countless tributary streams, some of them of considerable size, and drain the entire plain of the Deccan as they pass eastward towards the Bay of Bengal.
The Manchar Lake is situated on the right bank of the Indus. During inundations it attains a length of 20 m., and a breadth of 10, covering a total area estimated at 180 sq. m. But the most peculiar lacustrine feature of the presidency is the Runn or Lake of Cutch, which, according to the Lakes. season of the year, is a salt marsh, an inland lake, or an arm of the sea with an area of 8000 sq. m. It forms the western boundary of the province of Gujarat, and when flooded during the rains unites the Gulfs of Cutch and Cambay, and converts the territory of Cutch into an island.
Geology.—South of Gujarat nearly the whole of Bombay is covered by the horizontal lava flows of the Deccan Trap series, and these flows spread over the greater part of the Kathiawar peninsula and extend into Cutch. In Cutch and Kathiawar they are underlaid by Jurassic and Neocomian beds. The Jurassic beds are marine and contain numerous Ammonites, but the beds which are referred to the Neocomian include a series of sandstones and shales with remains of plants. Several of the plants are identical with forms which occur in the upper portion of the Gondwana system. Tertiary limestones, sandstones and shales overlie the Deccan Trap in Cutch, but the greatest development of deposits of this age is to be met with on the western side of the Indus (see Sind). The plain of Sind and of eastern Gujarat is covered by alluvium and wind-blown sand.
Climate.—Great varieties of climate are met with in the presidency. In its extreme dryness and heat, combined with the aridity of a sandy soil, Upper Sind resembles the sultry deserts of Africa. The mean maximum temperature at Hyderabad, in Lower Sind, during the six hottest months of the year, is 98° F. in the shade, and the water of the Indus reaches blood heat; in Upper Sind it is even hotter, and the thermometer has been known to register 130° in the shade. In Cutch and in Gujarat the heat, though less, is still very great. The Konkan is hot and moist, the fall of rain during the monsoon sometimes approaching 300 in. The table-land of the Deccan above the Ghats, on the contrary, has an agreeable climate except in the hot months, as has also the southern Mahratta country; and in the hills of Mahabaleshwar, Singarh, and other detached heights, Europeans may go out at all hours with impunity. Bombay Island itself, though in general cooled by the sea breeze, is oppressively hot during May and October. The south-west monsoon generally sets in about the first week in June, and pours down volumes of rain along the coast. From June to October travelling is difficult and unpleasant, except in Sind, where the monsoon rains exert little influence.
Forests.—Bombay Presidency possesses two great classes of forests—those of the hills and those of the alluvial plains. The hill forests are scattered over a wide area, extending from 23° to 14° N. lat. Most of them lie among the Sahyadri hills or Western Ghats. The alluvial forests lie in Sind, on or close to the banks of the Indus, and extend over an area of 550 sq. m. The principal timber trees in the forests are—teak; blackwood of two varieties (Dalbergia Sisu and Dalbergia latifolia), Dalbergia ujainensis, Pterocarpus Marsupium, Terminalia glabra, Acacia arabica, Acacia Catechu, Nauclea cordifolia, Nauclea parvifolia, Bidelia spinosa, Hardwickia binata, Juga xylocarpa, Populus euphratica, and Tamarindus indica. The forests contain many trees which, on account of their fruits, nuts or berries, are valuable, irrespective of the quality of their timber. Among these are the mango (Mangifera indica); the jack (Artocarpus integrifolia), Zizypkus Jujuba, Aegle Marmelos, Terminalia Chebula, Calophyllum Inophyllum, Bassia latifolia and Pongamia glabra. The jungle tribes collect gum from several varieties of trees, and in Sind the Forest Department derives a small revenue from lac. The palms of the presidency consist of cocoa-nut, date, palmyra and areca catechu.
Population.—The census of 1901 gave a total of 25,468,209, out of which the chief religions furnished the following numbers:—
In Sind Islam has been the predominant religion from the earliest Arab conquest in the 8th century. In Gujarat the predominant religion is Hinduism, though petty Mahommedan kingdoms have left their influence in many parts of the province. The Deccan is the home of the Mahrattas, who constitute 30% of the population. The Konkan is notable for various Christian castes, owing their origin to Portuguese rule; while in the Carnatic, Lingayatism, a Hindu reformation movement of the 12th century, has been embraced by 45% of the population. The Mahrattas are the dominating race next to the Europeans and number (1901) 3,650,000, composed of 1,900,000 Kunbis, 350,000 Konkanis, and 1,400,000 Mahrattas not otherwise specified.
Languages.—The chief languages of the presidency are Sindhi in Sind, Cutchi in Cutch, Gujarati and Hindustani in Gujarat, Mahratti in Thana and the central division, Gujarati and Mahratti in Khandesh, and Mahratti and Kanarese in the southern division. There are also Bhil (120,000) and Gipsy (30,000) dialects.
Agriculture.—The staple crops are as follows:—Joar (Sorghum vulgare) and bajra (Holcus spicatus) are the staple food grains in the Deccan and Khandesh. Rice is the chief product of the Konkan. Wheat, generally grown in the northern part of the Presidency, but specially in Sind and Gujarat, is exported to Europe in large quantities from Karachi, and on a smaller scale from Bombay. Barley is principally grown in the northern parts of the presidency. Nachani (Eleusine coracana) and kodra (Paspalum serobiculatum), inferior grains grown on the hill-sides, furnish food to the Kolis, Bhils, Waralis, and other aboriginal tribes. Of the pulses the most important are gram (Cicer arietinum), tur (Cajanus indicus), kulti (Dolichos biflorus), and mug (Phaseolus Mungo). Principal oil-seeds: til (Sesamum orientale), mustard, castor-oil, safflower and linseed. Of fibres the most important are cotton, Deccan hemp (Hibiscus cannabinus), and sunn or tag (Crotalaria juncea). Much has been done to improve the cotton of the presidency. American varieties have been introduced with much advantage in the Dharwar collectorate and other parts of the southern Mahratta country. In Khandesh the indigenous plant from which one of the lowest classes of cotton in the Bombay market takes its name has been almost entirely superseded by the superior Hinganghat variety. Miscellaneous crops: sugar-cane, requiring a rich soil and a perennial water-supply, and only grown in favoured localities, red pepper, potatoes, turmeric and tobacco.
Manufactures.—The chief feature of the modern industrial life of Bombay is the great development in the growth and manufacture of cotton. Large steam mills have rapidly sprung up in Bombay City, Ahmedabad and Khandesh. In 1905 there were 432 factories in the presidency, of which by far the greater number were engaged in the preparation and manufacture of cotton. The industry is centred in Bombay City and Island, which contains nearly two-thirds of the mills. During the decade 1891–1901 the mill industry passed through a period of depression due to widespread plague and famine, but on the whole there has been a marked expansion of the trade as well as a great improvement in the class of goods produced. In addition to the mills there are (1901) 178,000 hand-loom weavers in the province, who still have a position of their own in the manipulation of designs woven into the cloth. Silk goods are manufactured in Ahmedabad, Surat, Yeola, Nasik, Thana and Bombay, the material being often decorated with printed or woven designs; but owing to the competition of European goods most branches of the industry are declining. The custom of investing savings in gold and silver ornaments gives employment to many goldsmiths; the metal is usually supplied by the customer, and the goldsmith charges for his labour. Ahmedabad and Surat are famous for their carved wood-work. Many of the houses in Ahmedabad are covered with elaborate wood-carving, and excellent examples exist in Broach, Baroda, Surat, Nasik and Yeola. Salt is made in large quantities in the government works at Kharaghoda and Udu in Ahmedabad, whence it is exported by rail to Gujarat and central India. There is one brewery at Dapuri near Poona.
Railways and Irrigation.—The province is well supplied with railways, all of which, with one exception, concentrate at Bombay City. The exception is the North-Western line, which enters Sind from the Punjab and finds its natural terminus at Karachi. The other chief lines are the Great Indian Peninsula, Indian Midland, Bombay, Baroda & Central India, Rajputana-Malwa & Southern Mahratta systems. In 1905 the total length of railway under the Bombay government open for traffic was 7980 m. These figures do not include the railway system in Sind. With the exception of Sind, the water-supply of the Bombay Presidency does not lend itself to the construction of large irrigation works.
Army.—Under Lord Kitchener’s re-arrangement of the Indian army in 1904 the old Bombay command was abolished and its place was taken by the Western army corps under a lieutenant-general. The army corps was divided into three divisions under major-generals. The 4th division, with headquarters at Quetta, comprises the troops in the Quetta and Sind districts. The 5th division, with headquarters at Mhow, consists of three brigades, located at Nasirabad, Jubbulpore and Jhansi, and includes the previous Mhow, Deesa, Nagpur, Nerbudda and Bundelkhand districts, with the Bombay district north of the Tapti. The 6th division, with headquarters at Poona, consists of three brigades, located at Bombay, Ahmednagar and Aden. It comprises the previous Poona district, Bombay district south of the Tapti, Belgaum district north of the Tungabhadra, and Dharwar and Aurungabad districts.
Education.—The university of Bombay, established in 1857, is a body corporate, consisting of a chancellor, vice-chancellor and fellows. The governor of Bombay is ex officio chancellor. The education department is under a director of public instruction, who is responsible for the administration of the department in accordance with the general educational policy of the state. The native states have generally adopted the government system. Baroda and the Kathiawar states employ their own inspectors. In 1905 the total number of educational institutions was 10,194 with 593,431 pupils. There are ten art colleges, of which two are managed by government, three by native states, and five are under private management. According to the census of 1901, out of a population of 251 millions nearly 24 millions were illiterate.
Administration.—The government of Bombay is administered by a governor in council consisting of the governor as president and two ordinary members. The governor is appointed from England; the council is appointed by the crown, and selected from the Indian civil service. These are the executive members of government. For making laws there is a legislative council, consisting of the governor and his executive council, with certain other persons, not fewer than eight or more than twenty, at least half of them being non-officials. Each of the members of the executive council has in his charge one or two departments of the government; and each department has a secretary, an under-secretary, and an assistant secretary, with a numerous staff of clerks. The political administration of the native states is under the superintendence of British agents placed at the principal native courts; their position varies in different states according to the relations in which the principalities stand with the paramount power. The administration of justice throughout the presidency is conducted by a high court at Bombay, consisting of a chief justice and seven puisne judges, along with district and assistant judges throughout the districts of the presidency. The administration of the districts is carried on by collectors, assistant collectors, and a varying number of supernumerary assistants.
History.—In the earliest times of which any record remains the greater part of the west coast of India was occupied by Dravidian tribes, living under their kings in fortified villages, carrying on the simpler arts of life, and holding a faith in which the propitiation of spirits and demons played the chief part. There is evidence, however, that so early as 1000 B.C. an export trade existed to the Red Sea by way of East Africa, and before 750 B.C. a similar trade had sprung up with Babylon by way of the Persian Gulf. It was by this latter route that the traders brought back to India the Brahmi alphabet, the art of brick-making and the legend of the Flood. Later still the settlement of Brahmans along the west coast had already Aryanized the country in religion, and to some extent in language, before the Persian conquest of the Indus valley at the close of the 6th century B.C. The Persian dominion did not long survive; and the march of Alexander the Great down the Indus paved the way for Chandragupta and the Maurya empire. Under this empire Ujjain was the seat of a viceroy, a prince of the imperial house, who ruled over Kathiawar, Malwa and Gujarat. On the death of Asoka in 231 B.C. the empire of the Mauryas broke up, and their heritage in the west fell to the Andhra dynasty of the Satavahanas of Paithan on the Godavari, a Dravidian family whose dominion by 200 B.C. stretched across the peninsula from the deltas of the Godavari and Kistna to Nasik and the Western Ghats. About A.D. 210, however, their power in the west seems to have died out, and their place was taken by the foreign dynasty of the Kshaharatas, the Saka satraps of Surashtra (Kathiawar), who in 120 had mastered Ujjain and Gujarat and had built up a rival kingdom to the north. Since about A.D. 40 the coast cities had been much enriched by trade with the Roman empire, which both the Satavahanas and the satraps did much to encourage; but after the fall of Palmyra (273) and the extinction of the main Kshaharata dynasty (c. 300) this commerce fell into decay. The history of the century and a half that follows is very obscure; short-lived Saka dynasties succeeded one another until, about 388, the country was conquered by the Guptas of Magadha, who kept a precarious tenure of it till about 470, when their empire was destroyed by the White Huns, or Ephthalites (q.v.), who, after breaking the power of Persia and assailing the Kushan kingdom of Kabul, poured into India, conquered Sind, and established their dominion as far south as the Nerbudda.
Under the Hun tyranny, which lasted till the overthrow of the White Huns on the Oxus by the Turks (c. 565), native dynasties had survived, or new ones had established themselves. In Kathiawar a chief named Bhatarka, probably of foreign origin, had established himself at Valabhi (Wala) on the ruins of the Gupta power (c. 500), and founded a dynasty which lasted until it was overthrown by Arab invaders from Sind in 770. The northern Konkan was held by the Mauryas of Puri near Bombay, the southerly coast by the Kadambas of Vanavasi, while in the southern Deccan Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas struggled for the mastery. A new power, too, appeared from the north: the Gurjaras (ancestors, it is supposed, of the Gujar caste), who had probably entered India with the White Huns, established their power over Gujarat and (c. 600) overran north-eastern Kathiawar, made the raja of Valabhi their tributary, and established a branch at Broach (585–740). During the short-lived empire of Harsha (d. 647 or 648), Malwa, Gujarat and Kathiawar were subject to his sway; but the southern boundary of his kingdom was the Nerbudda, south of which the Chalukyas in the 7th century, having overcome the Rashtrakutas and other rivals, had absorbed the smaller kingdoms into their empire. In 710–711 (92 A.H.) the Arabs invaded India, and in 712 conquered and established themselves in Sind; they did not, however, attempt any serious attack on the Gurjara and Chalukya empires, confining themselves to more or less serious raids. In 770 they destroyed the city of Valabhi and, as already mentioned, brought its dynasty to an end. Meanwhile the Chalukyas, after successfully struggling with the Pallavas (whose capital was taken by Vikramaditya II., c. 740), had in their turn succumbed to their ancient rivals the Rashtrakutas, who succeeded to the bulk of their dominions, including Gujarat, where they had set up a branch line. For some two centuries (c. 750–950) there was a balance of power between the Gurjaras and Rashtrakutas, neither kingdom being strong enough to encroach on the other to any extent. The Rashtrakutas were, moreover, debarred from large schemes of conquest by dissensions with the branch dynasty which they had set up in Gujarat and by the constant threat of attack by the Chalukyas from Mysore. Nevertheless their power and magnificence (they were notable builders and patrons of literature) greatly impressed the Arabs, by whom the king was known as Balhara (i.e. Vallhaba, “well-beloved”), a title borrowed from the preceding dynasty. Under them the Konkan and the coast farther south were governed by chiefs of the Silahara family, whose rule is mainly notable for the revival of trade with the Persian Gulf and, doubtless as a result of this, the arrival in 775 on the west coast of a number of Parsee refugees, who found, in a country where three religions were already equally honoured, the toleration denied to them in Mussulman Persia. But in the 10th century the Rashtrakuta power began to break up; in 961 Mularaja Solanki (Chalukya) conquered the kingdom of Anhilvada (Anhilvara) in Gujarat, where his dynasty reigned till 1242; and twelve years later the Chalukyas once more overthrew the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan, establishing their capital at Kalyani, while a branch line was set up in southern Gujarat. Farther south the Silaharas, however, continued to rule the coast, and succeeded in maintaining their independence until after the final fall of the Chalukyas in 1192. The cause of the downfall of the dynasty, splendid and enlightened as any of its predecessors, was the system of governing by means of great feudatories, which also proved fatal to the Solanki rajas of Anhilvada. From 1143 onward the power of the latter had been overshadowed by that of the Vaghela chiefs of Dholka, and during the same period the Deccan had been rapidly lapsing into absolute anarchy, amid which rival chiefs struggled for the supreme power. In the end the Yadavas of Devagiri (Daulatabad) prevailed, and in 1192 established a short-lived empire to which the Dholka princes were ultimately forced to become tributary.
But meanwhile a new power had appeared, which was destined to establish the Mussulman domination in western and southern India. In 1023 Mahmud of Ghazni had already invaded Gujarat with a large army, destroyed the national Hindu idol of Somnath, and carried away an immense booty. Mahommed Ghori also invaded Gujarat, and left a garrison in its capital. But it was not till after the Mussulman power was firmly established in northern India that the Mahommedan sovereigns of Delhi attempted the conquest of the south. In 1294 the emperor Ala-ud-din first invaded the Deccan, and in 1297 he conquered Gujarat. In 1312 the Mahommedan arms were triumphant through the Mahratta country; and seven years later the whole of Malabar fell a prey to the invaders. In the middle of the 14th century the weakness of the Delhi sovereigns tempted the governors of provinces to revolt against their distant master, and to form independent kingdoms. In this way the Bahmani kingdom was established in the Deccan, and embraced a part of the Bombay presidency. Ahmednagar and Gujarat also became the seats of a new kingdom. In 1573 Akbar conquered Gujarat and reannexed it to the empire; in 1599 he effected the reconquest of Khandesh, and in 1600 that of Ahmednagar. From this time the country was never tranquil, and Ahmednagar became the focus of constant rebellions. During the latter part of the 17th century the Mahrattas rose into power, and almost every part of the country now comprising the presidency of Bombay fell under their sway. In 1498 the Portuguese came first to Calicut, their earliest possession in the presidency being the island of Anjidiv. After their victory at Diu over the Egyptian fleet their mastery of the Indian Ocean was undisputed, and they proceeded to establish themselves on the coast. They captured Goa in 1510, Malacca in 1511, and Ormuz in 1515. They next took advantage of the decay of the kingdom of Gujarat to occupy Chaul (1531), Bassein with its dependencies, including Bombay (1534), Diu (1535) and Daman (1559). But the inherent vices of their intolerant system undermined their power, even before their Dutch and English rivals appeared on the scene.
The first English settlement in the Bombay presidency was in 1618, when the East India Company established a factory at Surat, protected by a charter obtained from the emperor Jahangir. In 1626 the Dutch and English made an unsuccessful attempt to gain possession of the island of Bombay, and in 1653 proposals were suggested for its purchase from the Portuguese. In 1661 it was ceded to the English crown, as part of the dower of the infanta Catherine of Portugal on her marriage with Charles II. So lightly was the acquisition esteemed in England, and so unsuccessful was the administration of the crown officers, that in 1668 Bombay was transferred to the East India Company for an annual payment of £10. At the time of the transfer, powers for its defence and for the administration of justice were also conferred; a European regiment Vas enrolled; and the fortifications erected proved sufficient to deter the Dutch from their intended attack in 1673 (see Bombay City: History). In 1687 Bombay was placed at the head of all the Company’s possessions in India; but in 1753 the government of Bombay became subordinate to that of Calcutta. The first collision of the English with the Mahratta power was in 1774 and resulted in 1782 in the treaty of Salbai, by which Salsette was ceded to the British, while Broach was handed over to Sindhia. More important were the results of the second Mahratta war, which ended in 1803. Surat had already been annexed in 1800; the East India Company now received the districts of Broach, Kaira, &c.
In 1803 the Bombay presidency included only Salsette, the islands of the harbour (since 1774), Surat and Bankot (since 1756); but between this date and 1827 the framework of the presidency took its present shape. The Gujarat districts were taken over by the Bombay government in 1805 and enlarged in 1818; and the first measures for the settlement of Kathiawar and Mahi Kantha were taken between 1807 and 1820. Baji Rao, the last of the peshwas, who had attempted to shake off the British yoke, was defeated, captured and pensioned (1817–1818), and large portions of his dominions (Poona, Ahmednagar, Nasik, Sholapur, Belgaum, Kaladgi, Dharwar, &c.) were included in the presidency, the settlement of which was completed by Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor from 1819 to 1827. His policy was to rule as far as possible on native lines, avoiding all changes for which the population was not yet ripe; but the grosser abuses of the old régime were stopped, the country was pacified, the laws were codified, and courts and schools were established. The period that followed is notable mainly for the enlargement of the presidency through the lapse of certain native states, by the addition of Aden (1839) and Sind (1843), and the lease of the Panch Mahals from Sindhia (1853). The establishment of an orderly administration, one outcome of which was a general fall of prices that made the unwonted regularity of the collection of taxes doubly unwelcome, naturally excited a certain amount of misgiving and resentment; but on the whole the population was prosperous and contented, and under Lord Elphinstone (1853–1860) the presidency passed through the crisis of the Mutiny without any general rising. Outbreaks among the troops at Karachi, Ahmedabad and Kolhapur were quickly put down, two regiments being disbanded, and the rebellions in Gujarat, among the Bhils, and in the southern Mahratta country were local and isolated. Under Sir Bartle Frere (1862–1867) agricultural prosperity reached its highest point, as a result of the American Civil War and the consequent enormous demand for Indian cotton in Europe. The money thus poured into the country produced an epidemic of speculation known as the “Share Mania” (1864–1865), which ended in a commercial crisis and the failure of the bank of Bombay (1866). But the peasantry gained on the whole more than they lost, and the trade of Bombay was not permanently injured. Sir Bartle Frere encouraged the completion of the great trunk lines of railways, and with the funds obtained by the demolition of the town walls (1862) he began the magnificent series of public buildings that now adorn Bombay.
During recent times the entire history of Bombay has been sadly affected by plague and famine. Bubonic plague, of a fatal and contagious nature, first broke out in Bombay City in September 1896, and, despite all the efforts of the government, quickly spread to the surrounding country. Down to the end of October 1902 over 531,000 deaths had taken place due to plague. In 1903–1904 there were 426,387 cases with 316,523 deaths, and 1904–1905 there were 285,897 cases with 212,948 deaths. The great cities of Bombay, Karachi and Poona suffered most severely. A few districts in Gujarat almost entirely escaped; but the mortality was very heavy in Satara, Thana, Surat, Poona, Kolaba, and in the native states of Cutch, Baroda, Kolhapur and Palanpur. The only sanitary measure that can be said to have been successful was complete migration, which could only be adopted in villages and smaller towns. Inoculation was extensively tried in some cases. Segregation was the one general method of fighting the disease; but, unfortunately, it was misunderstood by the people and led to some deplorable outbreaks. In Poona, during 1897, two European officials were assassinated; the editor of a prominent native paper was sentenced to imprisonment for sedition; and two leaders of the Brahman community were placed in confinement. At Bombay, in March 1898, a riot begun by Mahommedan weavers was not suppressed until several Europeans had been fatally injured. In Nasik district, in January 1898, the native chairman of the plague committee was brutally murdered by a mob. But on the whole the people submitted with characteristic docility to the sanitary regulations of the government. Bombay, like the Central Provinces, suffered from famine twice within three years. The failure of the monsoon of 1896 caused widespread distress throughout the Deccan, over an area of 46,000 sq. m., with a population of 7 millions. The largest number of persons on relief was 301,056 in September 1897; and the total expenditure on famine relief was Rs.1,28,000,000. The measures adopted were signally successful, both in saving life and in mitigating distress. In 1899 the monsoon again failed in Gujarat, where famine hitherto had been almost unknown; and the winter rains failed in the Deccan, so that distress gradually spread over almost the entire presidency. The worst feature was a virulent outbreak of cholera in Gujarat, especially in the native states. In April 1900 the total number of persons in receipt of relief was 1,281,159 in British districts, 566,671 in native states, and 71,734 in Baroda. For 1900–1901 the total expenditure on famine relief was nearly 3 crores (say, £2,000,000 sterling); and a continuance of drought necessitated an estimate of 1 crore in the budget of the following year. The Bombay government exhausted its balances in 1897, and was subsequently dependent on grants from the government of India.
See Sir James Campbell, Gazetteer of Bombay (26 vols., 1896); S. M. Edwardes, The Rise of Bombay (1902); James Douglas, Bombay and Western India (1893); and Sir William Lee-Warner, The Presidency of Bombay (Society of Arts, 1904); The Imperial Gazetteer of India (Oxford, 1908); and for the early history, V. A. Smith, The Early History of India (2nd ed., Oxford, 1908).
- V. A. Smith, Early History of India, p. 295.