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Salsette Island, Mumbai Overview

Located on the Western Coast of India, in the state of Maharashtra, Salsette Island is one of the most densely populated islands in the world. The island houses the busy metropolis of Bombay, Thane and Mira- Bhayandar, and is also known to be one of the most populous islands with a population of around 15.1 million on a relatively small area of 619 square kms. The island is covered by water on all sides- Vasai Creek to the north, Ulhas River on the northeast, Thane Creek and Bombay Harbour on the East and Arabian Sea on the south and the west. The island is blessed with numerous lakes, bays and rivers.

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Etymology of Salsette Island

The word ‘Salsette’ is derived from the Marathi word ‘Sasashti’ which means sixty- six. It was named sixty- six because of the sixty- six villages on the island.

History of Salsette Island

The history of the island can be traced back to 55 AD when the island was occupied by Christian farmers. Later it became a part of the Hindu kingdom and was ruled by a series of Hindu rulers. In 1343, it was occupied by the Muslim Sultanate and then some time later by the Portuguese in 1534. It then became a part of Portuguese India.

In 1737, Salsette Island was again annexed by the Marathas which next went to the Britishers in 1774. By 1901, the area had gradually developed and the population had immensely increased and then it came to be known as Greater Bombay. Currently, the island is home to 109 Buddhist caves from the 2nd century. These caves are structurally similar to those of Kanheri Caves.

Geography of Salsette Island

Salsette Island has an amazing geography dominated by a mass of hills, tidal flats and water bodies. Bandra and Juhu lie on the west side of the island. However, the region falls at the confluence of a number of fault lines and that means the island is and earthquake prone area, upto a magnitude of 6. Mostly comprising of black basalt rock, there are three major lakes here- Powai Lake, Tulsi Lake and Vihar Lake. Some of the major rivers on the island are Mithi River, Poisar River, Oshiwara River and Dahisar River etc. There are also wetlands at Sewree (towards the north) which boasts of a rich biodiversity which is home to a lot of migratory birds.

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