Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains/Bombay Harbour—Fishing-boats in the Monsoon
BOMBAY HARBOUR,—FISHING-BOATS IN THE MONSOON.
The Harbour of Bombay presents one of the most striking and beautiful views that ever delighted the eye of a painter. The splendour and sublimity of its scenery offer such numerous claims to admiration, that it is by many considered to bear the palm from the far-famed bay of Naples. During the best season of the year, the water is smooth, while the breeze blowing in from the sea through the greater part of the day, the very smallest boats are, with the assistance of the tide, enabled to voyage along the beautiful coast, or to the various islands which gem the scarcely ruffled wave, and to return with the returning flood, without experiencing any of the dangers which must be encountered in less secure places. Even during the monsoon, when many other places of the Indian coast are unapproachable, when the lofty and apparently interminable mountains which form the magnificent back-ground are capped with clouds, and the sea-birds that love the storm, skim between the foam-crowned billows, the fishing-boats breast the waves, and pursue their occupation uninterruptedly. At this season, although the reality of the danger is nothing to experienced sailors, the aspect of the harbour becomes wild, and even terrific—darkness envelopes the sky, and the woody promontories and bold romantic cliffs, rising above village, town, and cottage, are obscured by the dingy scud which
drives along. When, however, the monsoon has expended its utmost fury, and fine settled weather and clear skies return, the harbour is to be seen in all its luxuriance and beauty.
Bombay is situated in the latitude 18° 56′ north, and consists of a small island, not more than twenty miles in circumference, that gives its name to the British presidency, which now comprehends within its jurisdiction many provinces of Western India. Though not distinguished for the splendour of its buildings, the favourable nature of the site gives to many an imposing effect; while the fortifications, and the wharfs stretching down unto the water, form exceedingly picturesque objects, and add greatly to the striking nature of the whole scene. We owe the establishment of a European colony at Bombay to the Portuguese, who, on account of the great excellence of its harbour, established a small community upon the island, their principal settlement, and the seat of their government being at Goa. From the earliest times it was a very considerable emporium for the commerce of the interior, and it is now the great mart for cotton and many other articles connected with the China trade. The island itself, originally consisting of isolated ranges of rocks covered with a forest of cocoa-nuts, is partly artificial, being now connected by causeways, while large pools of stagnant water, being filled up, are brought under cultivation. Great numbers of cocoa-trees have been cut down, but still sufficient remain to give a character to the groves. The whole of the adjacent continent and the neighbouring islands present rich masses of wood, every kind of timber common to the clime flourishing in a soil blessed with the richest fertility. Here the majestic banian spreads its sylvan temple; here the prolific mango sheds its golden fruitage; and the gardens teem with limes, citrons, tamarinds, grapes, plantains, bananas, custard-apples, and all the varieties of nuts yielded by the palm.
Bombay is furnished with an abundant supply of vegetables from the neighbouring island of Salsette, with which it is connected by means of a causeway; those of European origin grow freely, and it is particularly celebrated for the potato, and for the finest onions to be found throughout the whole peninsula. The sea is equally productive with the land; the inhabitants of many villages scattered along the harbour and its numerous islands, subsisting entirely from the profits of their nets. In addition to the pomfret and the sable, which, with other varieties of the fishy tribe belonging to Indian seas, are found in many parts of its shores, Bombay is visited by a fish peculiar to this coast, called the bumbalo, a species of sand-eel, which is of a very nutritive quality. It is eaten in large quantities when fresh, and is by many considered a great delicacy, while others only regard it as a mass of flavourless jelly. Immense numbers, dried in the sun, form an article for exportation, and furnish the principal part of the food eaten by the lascars. Shell-fish also abound, and turtle are sometimes caught.