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More about our past

Anand Jog, a reader from Manisha Apartments, Marol, has pointed out that the Gazetteer for Greater Bombay has some references to Marol's history.

The British began compiling gazetteers on various districts in India in the nineteenth century. For their comprehensive coverage of the history, geography, sociology or biology of India those gazetteers remain benchmarks for future generations. Marol originally fell in Thane district and its history was therefore covered under the gazetteer for that district. Today, however, Marol is covered under the gazetteer of Greater Bombay (or Mumbai as it is called now). There are two principal references to Marol in the gazetteer of 1986. The first is purely speculative.

In the sixth and early part of the seventh century north Konkan was ruled by the Mauryas. "Their capital was Puri, which has not yet been satisfactorily identified. Various places have been mentioned as possible sites of this capital, viz Thane, Kalyan, Sopara, Chaul, Mangalapuri (Magathan), Elephanta and Rajapuri in the former Janjira State. But Thane, Sopara and Chaul were known by other names in ancient times and have, besides, been mentioned together with Puri in some inscriptions. Gharapuri or Elephanta is too small an island to have served as a capital and as pointed out by Cousens (author of Medieval Temples in the Deccan), during the greater part of the monsoon it is cut off to a great extent by rough seas. Cousens proposed to locate the place at a site about a mile north of Marol village in the island of Sashti. This site is not far off from Sthanaka (Thane), which is mentioned in many grants as the place of royal residence. This site is not, however, known by the name of Puri at present and has not many ancient remains such as one would expect at the site of a royal capital."

The next reference in the gazetteer of 1986 is to the late 12th and early 13th century A.D. As we mentioned in an earlier issue Marol was built by the Yadavas of Devgiri (or Daulatabad as it is now called), which is located near present-day Aurangabad. When Ramdev was the king of Devgiri he was besieged by Alauddin. To ensure that the dynasty survived, he took the precaution of despatching his second son Bhimdev to the Konkan.

Bhimdev chose to settle on the island of Mahim which had until then been regarded as a desert island. He built a city there for himself and his followers which he called Mahikavati (from which the name Mahim originates).

S.M. Edwardes in his book Rise of Bombay: A Retrospect (1902) says: "The immigrants from Devgiri built a capital city, introduced cultivation, built more temples, and made our islands the headquarters of a kingdom. Previously Bombay had been merely an appendage of 'Puri'; Bhimdev deserted Puri and raised Bombay to the position of a capital under the title of Mahikavati or Mahim."

But what is to the point of this piece, Edwardes continues: "In the Shaka year 1225 (A.D. 1303) King Bhimdev died, and was succeeded by his son Pratapbimba, as he is sometimes called. Nothing of importance is known or recorded of him, save that he built another capital city at Marol in Salsette, which he named Pratappur. The name of the city still lives as Pardapur or Parjapur, a deserted village near the centre of Salsette."