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The History of Raj Bhavan, Mumbai


The Tides of Time
Winds of Change

• Bombay Castle

New House
Sans Pareil
Malabar Point
Raj Bhavan
Jal Bhushan
Jal Chintan
Jal Lakshan
Jal Vihar
Jal Sabhagraha
Heritage Bequeathed

 Bombay Castle

Bombay CastleThe English established themselves at The Manor House and bestowed upon it a new sovereign title, ‘The Bombay Castle’. This first Government House was situated in the heart of the Fort, behind the Town Hall and between the Mint and the Old Custom House.

Bombay Castle, had a commanding view that strategically encompassed the port, it’s two bays and the Town. In the words of an ensign, Bombay Castle, was, ‘the strongest hold our makers are master of, in India’.

Historian James Douglas evokes the powerful impression of Bombay Castle, ‘you pass under a lofty gate. Two figures look upon you, Portuguese soldiers bearing aloft the great globe itself, significant emblem of an inflated dominion by sea and land’.

King Charles II was in perennial needs of funds. He leased the islands to the East India Company in exchange for a loan and a yearly rent of ten pounds in 1668. Sir George Oxinden was the first Governor appointed by the East India Company.

By 1686, the East India Company shifted its headquarters from Surat to Bombay. ‘By 1710 the Castle had been provided with a strong magazine, quarters for soldiers and tanks to supply fresh water for a thousand people for twenty months’.

Later, this move that had initiated fortifications, prompted another shift. It was deemed strategically inappropriate for the Governor to live within the bulwarks. For, ‘all those who visited him would be able to assess the strength and preparedness of the garrison.’ The search began for a new residence.