400 Years of Khoja History in Bombay

by I.I.Dewji, Editor, (2019)

In a great many ways, the outstanding success of the present-day Khoja global diaspora is an outcome of their 19th-century migration from Surat-Kutch-Kathiawar to this fast-growing English colonial port-city, located just south of Gujarat, on India’s western seaboard and within the ancient Indian Ocean trading networks.


By 1534, Khoja merchants from Gujarat were trading with the Portuguese (see Khoja Shams-ud-din Gillani) and so when the Sultan of Gujarat seceded “Bom Bahia,” “the beautiful bay” to the Portuguese, it is likely that the Khojas would have started trading from there. They would have been amongst its leading merchants in 1661 when Bombay was handed over as “dowry” to the English. (Read here the story of Khoja merchant Kurji and his ship The Quedagh Merchant that was captured by the notorious English pirate, Capt Kidd in 1698.(1)

By 1668, the more established Khoja merchants from Surat were lured by the EnglishJinnah East India Company when it transferred its base to Bombay to take advantage of the growing business opportunities as they expanded their hold in India.

“The arrival of many Indian and British merchants led to the development of Bombay’s trade by the end of the seventeenth century. Soon it was trading in salt, rice, ivory, cloth, lead, and sword blades with many Indian ports as well as with the Arabian cities of Mecca and Basra” (2)

However, it was Skull Famine of 1791 (see Gujarat Famines & Khoja Migrations) which decimated almost 11 million people in North India, which forced many poorer Khojas to move to the relative safety of Bombay, assisted by the charity of the wealthier caste members. By this time, Bombay’s total population was about 100,000. (3)

Read more about 400 Years of Khoja History (with pictures) in Bombay at the source:


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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