Parel and Sewri

Parel belonged to the 13th century kingdom of Raja Bhimdev. The name may have come from the Parali Vaijanath Mahadev temple, dedicated to Shiva. Sewri, a small hamlet on the eastern shore of this island, was then called Shivdi, from another shrine to Shiva.

C17 During the Portuguese occupation of this island the Parali Mahadev temple was replaced by a Jesuit church and convent. They remained with the Jesuits until they were confiscated by the British, when the priests sided with the Sidis during their battle with the British in 1689.

C18 In 1719 these buildings became the official summer residence of the Governor of Bombay. In the 1770's, when William Hornby was the Governor, he shifted his official residence to Parel. This area then became one of the poshest quarters of the city. A fort in Sewri dates from about this time.

C19 The glory days of Parel and Sewri lasted well into the 19th century. The Agri-Horticultural Society had established gardens at Sewri, which were acquired in 1865 by Arthur Crawford, then the Municipal Commissioner, for building an European cemetery. Two years later, tanners and dealers in dry fish were relocated in this area. By the 1870's several cotton mills had been established in the reclaimed lands in West Parel. With these developments Parel became very polluted. In 1883 the Governor's wife died of Cholera in the Government House. Two years later the Governor's Bungalow moved to Malabar Point, where it still remains. During the plague epidemics of the 1890's, the old Government House was leased to the newly founded Haffkine Institute.

C20 After the plague epidemics, mills proliferated in this area. It became an industrial precinct and in addition provided space for mill workers. With the gradual decline of the mills in the late twentieth century, this space is being recycled. Large parts of Sewri belonged to the Bombay Port Trust and were incorporated into the harbour facilities. In 1996 the mangrove swamps of Sewri were declared a protected ecology.

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