The Port of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is a deep natural harbor on India's northwest coast just six nautical miles west of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Nhava Sheva and some 432 nautical miles south-southeast of the Port of Kandla. One of the world's largest municipalities, with its suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, the Port of Mumbai's metropolitan area of some 19 million people is the fifth most populous in the world.
The Port of Mumbai is the capital of the Maharashtra state and India's commercial and entertainment center. One of the most important commercial centers in the world, the Port of Mumbai is home to India's major financial institutions with many headquarters for Indian corporations and branch headquarters for lots of multi-national corporations. Known as Bollywood, the Port of Mumbai is the center for the Hindi entertainment industry. With its big-city excitement and high standard of living, the Port of Mumbai attracts people from all over the country, making it a mixing pot for many cultures. The Port of Mumbai is also the gateway for more than half of India's sea-going passengers and an important cargo-handling seaport.
While archeological evidence suggests human occupation during the Stone Age, the earliest known inhabitants of the Port of Mumbai area were Koli fishermen. As early as 300 BC, the ancient Greeks called the area Heptanesia (meaning a cluster of seven islands), and it was a trade center with both Egypt and Persia in 1000 BC.
In the 3rd Century BC, it was part of the Asoka Empire, and the Port of Mumbai was ruled by the Calukyas from the 6th to 8th Century. The Yadavas of Devagiri, who ruled from 1187 to 1318, created a settlement on Bombay Island due to raids in 1294 by the Khalji Dynasty. Their descendants still live in the Port of Mumbai.
Muslim armies invaded and conquered the area in 1348, when it became part of the Kingdom of Gujarat. Though the Portuguese failed in a 1507 attempt, they won the Port of Mumbai in 1534. Then in 1661, it fell to the British Empire when the sister of Portugal's king married King Charles II. The English crown soon granted the Port of Mumbai area to the British East India Company.
At first, the English did not consider the Port of Mumbai (or Bombay) a valuable asset to the Empire. Mainland powers -- the Mughals, Marathas, and Gujarat princes -- were more powerful than the British. But the end of the 18th Century brought many changes. Instability among mainland powers drove refugees, including merchants and artisans, to the island, and the Port of Mumbai began to grow.
In 1853, India's first passenger railway line started there. By 1860, the Port of Mumbai was the biggest cotton market in India, with many spinning and weaving mills located there. When the American Civil War cut off Britain's cotton supplies from the New World, the Port of Mumbai underwent a tremendous boom in trade and became the world's cotton trade center until the end of the war. When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, the Port of Mumbai prospered despite the slums and unhealthy conditions brought with its growing population. Bombay suffered an outbreak of plague in 1896, and new projects were started to provide homes for the artisan classes.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Port of Mumbai was a political center for nationalist and regional interests. The first session of the Indian National Congress was held there in 1885, as was the 1942 session where the Congress demanded independence for India.
After World War II, new residential growth began in the Port of Mumbai's suburban areas, and the municipal government covered all of Greater Bombay. It was the scene of passionate protests against the two-language structure that led to the partition of Bombay state into the today's states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Port of Mumbai became the capital of the State of Maharashtra in 1960.
In the 1970s, the Port of Mumbai experienced another wave of immigration, with associated construction boom, and Bombay overtook Kolkata (Calcutta) as the country's largest city. In 1992-93, secular riots cost many lives and much property when local Maharashtrians became overwhelmed about the loss of their culture. In 1995, the old Bombay was renamed Mumbai, reflecting its historic beginnings. Since that time, terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists have disrupted life for Mumbai's citizens. In late 2008, the Port of Mumbai suffered a dramatic and deadly attack by terrorists that killed over 170 people and held the city hostage for three days.