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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Salsette Island

Salsette (सालसट) is an island in the state of Maharashtra on India's west coast. The metropolis of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and the city of Thane lie on it, making it very populous and one of the most densely populated islands in the world. It has about 15.1 million inhabitants living on an area of about 619 km².



The word Sasashti (also shortened to Sashti) is Marathi for "sixty-six," referring to the original "sixty-six villages" on the island.[1] It was inhabited by (Aagri, Kunbi) farmers, agriculturists, (Bhandaris) toddy tappers, (Sutar, Malis) artisans, and (Kolis) fisherfolks who trace their conversion to Christianity back to 55 AD with the arrival of Christ's disciple St. Bartholomew in north Konkan, west Maharashtra. They were converted to Roman Catholicism by four religious orders—Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Jesuits—who arrived in the 15th century with the Portuguese. These original natives of Salsette are the East Indian Catholics and Kolis.[2]

109 Buddhist caves, including those at Kanheri, can be found on the island, and date from the end of the 2nd century.[3] Salsette was ruled by a succession of Hindu kingdoms, the last of which were the Silharas.

In 1343, the islands were annexed by the Muslim Sultanate of Gujarat. In 1534, the Portuguese took the islands from Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. Sashti became part of the northern province of Portuguese India, which was governed from Baçaím (present-day Vasai) on the north shore of Vasai Creek. It was leased to D. Diogo Rodrigues from 25 October 1535 to 1548. In 1554, the islands were handed over to Garcia de Orta, a renowned physician and botanist and the author of Colloquies on the Simples, Drugs and Materia Medica of India, a seminal work on Indian and Eastern medicine of its time.

On the island of Mazagaon, the Jesuits had set up base claiming the land. The Portuguese king refused to entertain their claim and in 1572 permanently leased the island to the de Souza e Lima family. By now, there was a large Roman Catholic population. The Portuguese also brought with them African slaves known as "Kaffirs", who soon entered the ethnic mix of the people.

The Portuguese had established Goa, which lay south of the islands, as their headquarters in India. Goa was then known as the "Lisbon of the East" and was capital of the Portuguese Indian Vice-Kingdom. Due to its prominence, the islands were never important to the Portuguese. Nine Roman Catholic churches were built on Sashti Island by the Portuguese: Nirmal (1557), Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (1557), Sandor (1566), Agashi (1568), Nandakal (1573), Papdy (1574), Pale (1595), Manickpur (1606), and Nossa Senhora das Mercês (1606). The St. Andrews Church and the Mount Mary's Basilica in Bandra, the Cross at Cross Maidan, Gloria Church (1632) in Mazagaon and the remnants of a church in Santa Cruz are the sole places of worship that have survived till today.

In 1661, the seven Bombay islets were ceded to Britain as part of the dowry of Catherine of Bragança to King Charles II of England while Salsette remained in Portuguese hands. King Charles, in turn, leased the Bombay islets to the British East India Company in 1668 for £10 per year. The company found the deep harbour at Bombay eminently apposite, and the population rose from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. In 1687, the East India Company transferred their headquarters there from Surat. In 1737 the island was captured by the Marathas, and most of the Portuguese northern province was ceded to the Marathas in 1739.

The British occupied Salsette in 1774,[4] and it was formally ceded to the East India Company in the 1782 Treaty of Salbai. In 1782, William Hornby, then Governor of Bombay Presidency, initiated the project of connecting the isles of Bombay. By 1845 the seven southern islands had been connected to form Old Bombay, with an area of 435 km². Railway viaducts and causeways were built in the 19th century to connect Bombay Island to the mainland via Salsette. The channels separating Bombay from Salsette and Trombay were bridged by the Sion Causeway in 1803.[5] Accessibility considerably increased after construction of this causeway.[6] Mahim and Bandra were connected by the Mahim Causeway in 1845.[7] These railway lines and roads encouraged wealthier merchants to build villas on Salsette Island. By 1901, the population of Salsette had increased to 146,993 and the region began to be referred to as Greater Bombay.

In Mahabharata

Shashtihrada (षष्टिह्रद) (Tirtha) in Mahabharata (XIII.26.34),

Anusasana Parva/Book XIII Chapter 26 mentions the sacred waters on the earth. Shashtihrada (षष्टिह्रद) (Tirtha) is mentioned in Mahabharata (XIII.26.34). [8]....Bathing in the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna as also at the tirtha in the Kalanjara mountains and offering every day oblations of water to the Pitris for a full month, one acquires the merit that attaches to ten Horse-sacrifices. Bathing in the Shashthi lake one acquires merit much greater than what is attached to the gift of food.


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[9] ने लेख किया है ...परिमुद (AS, p.956) मुंबई के निकट सालसेट द्वीप; यूनानी लेखकों का पेरिमूला (Perimula).

शाष्ठी = सालसट

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[10] ने लेख किया है ...शाष्ठी = सालसट, महा., (AS, p.897): मुंबई नगरी के निकट एक टापू. बेसिन के टप्पू के साथ ही इसका नाम भारत में अंग्रेजी राज्य के इतिहास में कई बार आता है. बाजीराव पेशवा ने वेलेजली से सहायक संधि करते समय बेसीन और सालसेट अंग्रेजों को दे दिए थे.

External links


  1. India. Census Commissioner. (1901). Census of India. Government Central Press, Bombay.
  2. "Populations. Christians. history" (PDF). Bombay Gazetteer.
  3. Alexander Kyd Nairne (1894). History of the Konkan. Asian Educational Services. p. 9. ISBN 978-81-206-0275-5.
  4. Naravane, M.S. (2014). Battles of the Honorourable East India Company. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. p. 53. ISBN 9788131300343.
  5. Alexander Kyd Nairne (1894). History of the Konkan. Asian Educational Services. p. 124.
  6. Anne Bulley (2000). The Bombay Country Ships, 1790-1833. Psychology Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7007-1236-6.
  7. "City by the sea". Dance with Archived from the original on 11 September 2004
  8. गङ्गायमुनयॊस तीर्थे तथा कालंजरे गिरौ, षष्टिह्रद उपस्पृश्य दानं नान्यद विशिष्यते
  9. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.956
  10. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.897