This fascinating original manuscript map depicts the massive complex of Bombay Fort as it appeared during the 1830s. The fort was located along the harbour, immediately to the to the south of the city of Bombay and was surrounded by heavy walls, breastworks and moats. It housed the nucleus of the ‘Company Raj’ in Western India, as all of the operations of the civil government, military and the revenue financial systems of the East India Company’s Presidency of Bombay were headquartered there – making it the densest concentration of power on the subcontinent.
The present manuscript is a very rare survivor and was clearly drafted by a trained military engineer in the employ of the EIC. Every block, street and significant building is carefully labeled, including the major fortifications, barracks, public offices, commercial offices (usually of both British and Indian EIC contactors), while docks and piers along the harbour are identified. Major details include ‘Fort George’, guarding the north of the perimeter; ‘The Castle’, the oldest part of the complex; ‘Bombay Green’, the central park; and the ‘Dock Yard’ area, while a dense warren of tightly backed streets makes up the anterior of the settlement. The ‘References’ along the bottom note 101 sites, highlights of which include the ‘New Mint’, completed in 1829 (17-20); the ‘Opium Agent’, the govern-sanctioned ‘drug dealer’ who shipped Indian narcotics to China (33); the ‘Bombay Bank’ (65); and the EIC’s ‘Book Seller’ (72).
The EIC Company centred their operations at ‘The Castle’ after they assumed control of Bombay in 1668. During the 18th Century, the buildings and defensive works around The Castle where gradually expanded and by the 1750s the Fort complex took form. While many of the buildings within the fort were preserved, Bombay Fort’s walls and Fort George were torn down between 1862 and 1864, as the desire to integrate the government district with the city outweighed what were by then archaic security concerns.