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Born: Bombay, as we know it, 300 years
Bombay was once a string of seven islands inhabited by fisherfolk. Gharapuri on Elephanta island is believed to be the first area of settlement. Subsequently, King Bimba erected the town of Mahim. In the fourteenth century Bombay became part of the Muslim Gujarat Sultanate and in 1534 it was handed over to the Portuguese.
The English acquired Bombay from the Portugese as part of Catherine Braganza's dowry when she married Charles II in 1661. In 1698 the East India Company leased Bombay and adjoining hinterland for ten pounds per year. Much land has been reclaimed from the sea -- the reclamation process actually began in 1862 -- and the city is now a long finger-shaped isthmus. The centre of Indian business, India's film capital, the nation's most prosperous city, Bombay has just been rechristened Mumbai by the state government.
Languages: English is widely spoken and understood. Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati are the other languages used for communication.
Time: Five and a half hours ahead of GMT.
Climate: Average maximum temperature: 35 degrees Celsius. Average minimum temperature: 15 degrees C. Average maximum rainfall: 900mm.
Best times to visit: The weather between November and February is cool and pleasant. March to May can be very hot and uncomfortable. Ditto October. June to September can be very wet.
Proper attire: Light summer suits are just fine for formal meetings. Casual clothes are okay for evening engagements. Shorts and tank tops are not frowned upon anywhere except religious locations and hotel bars/restaurants.
Be wary of: Beggars, con artists and pickpockets.The beggars are usually found near the big hotels, and can be very persistent. Con artists and pickpockets flourish in Bombay as they would in any city this size. Caution is advised, especially in crowded places.
Photographs for the Bombay guide are by Jewella C Miranda and courtesy Dinodia Picture Agency
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