The Fort district of Mumbai was the site of the original settlement and remains the city’s financial heart.
Deepa Krishnan, who runs walking tours company Mumbai Magic, is an expert on the history of India’s richest city, once known as Bombay. “The entire area from Colaba to the Town Hall, further down from Mumbai University, is known as the Fort Area,” she says. “However, the Fort does not exist anymore as it was demolished in the late 17th century as business expanded. Gerald Aungier, the second governor of Bombay (from 1672 to 1677) is credited with turning the city into a great center of commerce. He actively welcomed trading communities, such as Parsis, Jews, Armenians, Jains, Marwaris, Sindhis and Bohris, to settle.
“At the same time he built up a police force for security and ensured that all communities were seen equally in the eyes of the law. As shipping and trade grew in Mumbai, so did financial activities, and the Bombay Stock Exchange was set up in 1875 (the first-ever in Asia).
“The original inhabitants were fisherfolk, weavers and other tribal communities but, as these various other communities arrived and settled in, they created a culture completely unique to the city revolving around commerce. However, at a basic level, the character of each ethnic group has remained and it is the different communities that I love about Mumbai.”