Mazagaon, also spelled Mazgaon and Mazagon (Portuguese rule Mazagao), and pronounced by the Catholics as Mazgon or Maz-a-gon and the Marathi-speakers as Mazhgav. It is one of the seven islands of Mumbai. It is part of South Mumbai and can be reached by Byculla Station on the Central railway line and Dockyard Road Station on the Harbour Railway line. Located in Mazagaon are maritime companies like the Bombay Port Trust and Mazagaon Dock Ltd., the Mazagaon Court and Anglo-Indian schools including Rosary High School, St. Peters School and St. Marys School.
The word Mazagaon has been derived from the Sanskrit Matsya Gram, meaning fishing village. The original inhabitants were speculated to be tribals of Agari (salt-workers) and Koli (fishermen) tribes. However, folk etymology derives Mazagaon from the Marathi Maza Gaon, meaning my village. Another etymological claim suggests Portuguese origin, with the name borrowed from a city and fort of Mazagao in Morocco (now El Jadida) established by Portuguese in the beginning of the 16th century who totally evacuated to the Portuguese colony of Brazil in 1769. One of Mazagaons oldest claims to fame was a variety of mango trees which fruited twice a year. Apparently a few such trees were extant well into the 20th century. The small island was rocky, with a hill rising at the north, and forming a cliff over the harbour. To see what Mazagaon might once have been, one has to visit any of the tiny rocky islands bearing mango trees and small villages further down the Konkan coast.
The first Portuguese settlers were the Jesuits, who established a church in the 16th century. Notwithstanding their claim, in 1572 King Sebastian of Portugal granted the island in perpetuity to the de Souza e Lima family, from whom the DSouzas of Mumbai trace their descent. When the Portuguese ceded the island to the English, there was a well established population of Roman Catholics, mainly fishermen. Although Eurasians were not uncommon. Some black African slaves brought by the Portuguese, known as Kaffirs, had also entered the ethnic mix. Some of their traditional wooden houses can still be seen, and are now protected heritage structures.
The original Gloria church, Nossa Senhora da Gloria, was built in 1632 from a donation by the de Souza family. It was destroyed in 1911, being replaced two years later by a new Gothic church of the same name built a kilometer .
Mazagaon was occupied by the Sidi of Janjira, an admiral in the Mughal navy in 1690. It is said that he was driven away a year later by the Rustomji Dorabji, who organised the fishermen in Dongri into a fleet. Rustomji was given the title Patel after this feat, and his descendants have remained the only Parsi family of Patels.
With the reclamation of Umarkhadi, at the end of the 17th century, Mazagaon became an outlying suburb of Mumbai and a fashionable place of residence. One of the famous houses was the neo-classical Tarala, built by a member of the Wadia family in the late 18th century. Sold to the Jeejeebhoy family about a century later, it became the Sadar Adalat in 1925, when they moved out to Malabar Hill. Later still it was taken over by the army, and then donated to the J. J. Hospital in 1943 after a fire. It was used as a staff hostel for a few years before it was demolished.
Other bungalows and plantations also grew up in Mazagaon as the British and the more affluent Indians moved out of the crowded fort. When the Esplanade was cleared in the Fort area, the armoury moved from Bombay Castle to Mazagaon in 1760 and gave its name to Gunpowder Lane. In 1790 the docks at Mazagaon were completed. In 1793, after the construction of the Hornby Vellard, the Bellasis Road was built to join Mazagaon and Malabar Hill.
The next century saw a slow decline in Mazagaons fortunes, as the neighbouring Byculla became the fashionable suburb, and people began moving out. The process accelerated after the docks were reclaimed in the last thirty years of the century on the eastern shore of Mazagaon. Mazagaon was left landlocked, and the fumes from the developing mills drove the last money out of this area.
Among others, Tipu Sultan, the Mysore warriors relative Nawab Ayaz Ali, migrated here after the British defeated the ruler in 1799 and was buried here. Birthplace of Elvisto Savio Euphermiano Rodrigues.