Bandra was a tiny fishing village inhabited farmers and fishermen. It was acquired by the British East India Company while the rest of Bombay belonged to the Portuguese. There was an 18 hole golf course in Bandra called Danda Green with an English style Club House on the top of the hill, surrounded by trees. Membership was only for the British who lived in Pali Hill. Each cottage had a stable for horses.
Bandra consisted of the villages Sherly, Malla, Rajan, Kantwady, Waroda, Ranwar, Boran, Pali and Chuim. Ranwar also had a tennis court and the Ranwar Club, famous for its Christmas and New Year eve dances. Most adults in Bandra worked for the East India Company... and hence were called East Indians.
In the Bandra of the forties and earlier, large cottages with large gardens were available for rent at Rs 30 a month. Marriages were celebrated for 8 days from to for a wedding and the whole village was invited. was pig slaughter day and was to make pappads for drinks, to make fugias and bring water from the village well to bathe the bride or groom. was the wedding ceremony and long reception. was day of rest and to finish remaining food and the feet of guests were washed in exchange for cash. Then farewell dinner and guests left by which time honeymoon was over.
Tradition has it that the suburb was originally known as Vandra or Ape as it was the home of monkeys, then Bandor as the Portuguese called it in 1505, then called Bandera, Bandura, Bandore, Pandara, Bandorah, Bandara and finally Bandra till a railway sign board finalized it at the end of the last century. Salsette was originally separated by a tidal creek which Portuguese called Bandora creek. English changed it to Mahim creek. Bandra had 2 hills, Mount Mary hill and Pali hill. On 12th Apr 1867 the first railway service was inaugurated with one train per day between Virar and Bombay.
Bandra at one time was peopled mainly by East Indians (original residents of Bombay Salsette, Bassein, and Thana), a few Goans and Manglorian immigrants, Parsis, Muslims, Europeans and Hindu Kolis. Till as late as the 30's Bandra had only one bus service from Pali Naka, Hill road to the Rly station. Other people just walked to the nearest Rly station. After World War II the building boom started to accommodate immigrants.
The five oldest roads in Bandra are as follows: Godbunder Road, which originally ran from Mahim causeway, then skirted Bazaar Road, went past the Bandra talab (lake) and continued to Godbunder. The Road was later made straight by cutting through the talab. Bazaar Road began at Godbunder Road opposite the mosque and ran through the market keeping close to the coast which is now the reclamation. Hill Road starting from the station went through middle of Bandra town, past St. Andrews to terminate at the foot of the Mount near Mehboob studio.
Pali Road began at St. Peter's and cut through Pali village till it reached Danda. BJ Road runs from St. Andrews to Lands End, was built by Byramjee Jeejeebhoy and opened to public in 1878.
There are over 150 crosses at various places. Many crosses were built to ward off the plague epidemic (1896-1906). The oldest is the one relocated in St. Andrew's church compound. Stands 17ft high and made of a single stone. It was originally in the Jesuit seminary of St Anne built in 1610.
The bldg was destroyed in 1739 and the cross was relocated to St. Andrew's church. The surface is carved all over with 39 emblems of the passion of Christ. Bazaar Road is only 2 km long but houses a Jain temple, Ram Mandir, Hanuman temple, Khoja mosque, Christian chapel and a Sikh gurduwara.
Main roads in Bandra, Perry, Carter, Bullock, Kane, and Bates were named after British collectors and magistrates. Mr. Carter was collector in 1924 and Mr. Bullock was the Chief Magistrate.
Christians in Bandra are mostly of the Koli, Bhandari and Kunbi castes. The architect of Mount Mary's church was a Bombay architect Shahpoorjee Chandabhoy. The basilica was built in 1904 at a cost of 1 lakh. Also the first time a non-Catholic was asked to build the church. It was built to serve the garrison posted at Castella de Aguada - the fort at Land's End road. It was destroyed in a fire in 1739 and rebuilt in 1761, the year marking beginning of Bandra feast as it is celebrated today.
The walls enclosing the compound of St. Andrew's church were built by a Parsi, Manockjee Sorabjee Ashburner in 1862. It is recorded on a slab on the main gate of the enclosure. In 1879, Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy constructed a flight of steps from foot of Mount Mary hill to north side of church known as the "Degrados de Bomanjee" ('Steps of Bomanjee').
St. Stanislaus started in 1863 as a 'Native Boy's orphanage', became a high school in 1923 and was the first English medium school in the suburbs. In 1661 when King Charles married Catherina of Portugal, Bombay was given to England as part of the dowry. Salsette was not part of this treaty and remained with the Portuguese. In 1739 with the threat of a Maratha invasion, the Portuguese appealed to the British for help and they suggested to the Portuguese to destroy all fortifications around the chapel and the fortress Aguada. However the Marathas took over and ruled for 2 decades. But after the battle of Panipat in 1761, Maratha power declined and the British took over and Salsette, including Bandra came under British rule. The Portuguese were left with just Goa, Daman and Diu.
The English found in this newly acquired territory of Salsette thousands of Indian families who were converted to Christianity. It was from these families the English drew their supplies of clerks, assistants and secretaries. At that time there was hardly a Hindu, Parsi or Muslim who could read Roman characters.
There was also a large influx of Christians from Goa, Karnataka and Kerala and this prompted local converts to take the name of 'East Indians' and form the East Indian Association on 26th May 1887 to distinguish the 'sons of the soil' who were the first employees of the East India Company, from Indian Christians who came from further down the West coast and shared the same names and religion, and vied for the same jobs.
Crossing the Mahim creek was by ferry to the industrial town of Bombay. After many boats capsized, a road was built by Lady Jamsetjee in 1843 at a cost of Rs.1,55,800. It was designed by Lt. Crawford and opened to public in 1845.
Railway started in 1867 with one train but 6 yrs later it was increased to 24 each day and now 940 trains that stop at Bandra every day. The Tata Agiary on Hill Road was built by Tata in memory of his wife in 1884.