In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Bombay (modern Mumbai), I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. The map is in the original. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851. This discussion of a major city in British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

BOMBAY (PRESIDENCY or), one of the three presidencies into which British India is divided, situated between latitude 14˚ and 29˚ North; and longitude 66˚ and 77˚ East. It comprehends the districts Ahmednuggur and Poonah in the province of Aurungabad; North and South Concan, and Darwar, in the province of Bejapoor; Ahmedabad, Baroach, Kaira, and Surat, in the province of Goojerat; the island of Bombay, Candeish, and Scinde, recently added.

The surface is irregular, presenting the diversities of low barren hills, mountainous tracts, valleys, and elevated table-lands. The mountains comprise a large portion of the West Ghaut range, which line the whole West coast of peninsular Hindoostan, the Santpoora chain, the West portion of the Vindhya chain, and further North the Aravulli chain. East of the latter lies the table land of Malwa, having an average height of 1,600 feet above sea level, and of which two-thirds are in the presidency of Bombay.

The principal rivers are the Nerbudda and Tapty, both falling into the Gulf of Cambay, but there are several other considerable streams that have their sources only in the presidency, such as the Godavery and Kishna, which fall into the Bay of Bengal. The valleys are remarkably fertile, and many parts of the presidency are in a high state of cultivation, although there is still much waste land, particularly in Surat.

The roads, also, are so exceedingly bad, as seriously to affect the development of its resources, and, conjoined with the absence of navigable rivers, to limit greatly its internal traffic. So detrimental to the interests of the country have these evils been found, particularly the former, that in 1850, the merchants and bankers of the city of Bombay presented a memorial to the Governor-general of India, stating that so miserably inadequate are the means of communica tion with the interior, that many valuable articles of produce are, for want of carriage and a market, often left to perish in the fields, while the cost of those that do find their way to Bombay is enormously enhanced, to the extent sometimes of 200 per cent; considerable quantities never reach their destination at all, and the quality of the remainder is almost universally deteriorated. It appears further, that in conse quence of this wretched state of the roads in the presidency, of the vast numbers of sheep fed in Candeish and the Deccan, which are sent down to the Bombay market, not one-third reach the city alive, and those greatly reduced in flesh. A railway, however, has recently been commenced at Bombay (which see), which may be the precursor of a better state of things, as regards internal communication.

Sources of this entry in The Imperial Gazetteer

Hamilton’s East India Gazetter; Von Orlich’s Travels in India; Porter’s Progress of the Nation; McCulloch’s Account of the British Empire; British Colonial Library; Historical and Descriptive Account of British India; Horsburgh’s East India Directory; The Oriental Interpreter; Private Information, Sic.)


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 22 November 2018