A cluster of islands, unprotected by land and sea. Just a Castle and a quadrangular fort. Not much by way of dowry, but the British recognised the value that the Bombay islands brought with Catherine of Braganza.
Would Bombay have been the same if the Portuguese had held on to this strip of tenuous land and creek? Or was it the British who realised its importance as a naval base and a crucial trading point and made the city one of the most vibrant metropolises in the world today?
In 1661, Bombay was passed from Portuguese to British hands. The British lost no time in constructing forts, infrastructure and institutes that live on even today. Chances are you cross these iconic structures even today without realising you are brushing shoulders with a piece of history nearly every day!
Structures like the Bombay Castle, built by the Portuguese in 1548 have disappeared completely, and the famed Bombay Fort is now represented by a piece of wall in the St George Hospital. Churchgate has been around since 1670, and the church it refers to is St Thomas' Cathedral, located a hop away near the Horniman Circle Gardens.
Landmarks like Dadar's Portuguese Church built in 1651 and Mahim's St Michael's Church constructed in 1548 still stand strong as do Colaba's Radio Club and the Dadyseth Agiary, the city's oldest fire temple, now nearly 300 years old.
Of course, we haven't even touched upon the Shitaladevi Temple in Mahim that's over a 1000 years old and the Banganga tank that goes back an equally long way. But then, that's a different story for another day.