It is the fifth suburb among the Western suburbs , (from South to North) , followed by Bandra , Khar , Santacruz and Vile Parle . Like many other suburbs , Andheri too is divided into East and West sections , separated by the railway line .
The oldest settlements in and around Andheri were those of the East Indians, the natives whose villages survive in Pump House, Marol , St. John the Baptist Church, Chakala, Gundowli , Sahar,Saki Naka, etc. The name Andheri was derived from Udayanagari, the name of a hill near the Mahakali caves .
Another concentration of the native East Indians was located on the former islet of Versova, also known as Vasave.
The British actively encouraged this in order to take off population pressure from the congested city and to increase revenue inflows; however, as a result, the native East Indians came to be swamped, marginalized and their lands were usually expropriated without compensation, even as their access to the sea for fishing was cut, thus destroying their two means of livelihood: agriculture & fishing.
In the 1940s the British built the Versova Causeway (the Versova Road) between Andheri on Sashti Island and the islet of Versova . The area on both sides of this causeway were rapidly filled in to develop areas now known as Lokhandwala Complex , Yamuna Nagar , Millat Nagar , Dhake Colony , D.N. Nagar D.N. Nagar, Four Bungalows, Seven Bungalows, etc.
One of the earliest colonies is the Dhake Colony on Versova Road , Andheri West . The five buildings of Dhake Colony were built around 1950, and they served as a landmark until recently. The area is now known as D.N. Nagar .
Another of these early settlements is Bhardawadi . This lane forms a vital link with S.V. Road for the residents of Versova Road . It has been inhabited for the last ninety years. In the past, there were bungalows on this road; these gave way to apartment buildings, although there are still a few old bungalows, which is rare in Mumbai . This lane bustles with the sound of traffic which passes through it to reach S.V. Road .
Starting from 1935 up to early 1980s Andheri East boasted of many Film Studios, namely Prakash Studio, Nataraj Studio, Modern Studio, M&T Studio and Mohan Studio. All these studios were situated from Telli Gully signal junction up to Chakala Junction on Andheri-Kurla Road . All the big names of Bollywood of that era had their offices in it. Prakash Studio made way for Vishal Housing complex. Modern studio had to close down in mid 1960 as the Western Express Highway was constructed right through it. M&T studio was gutted in a fire in early 1960. In its place came German Remedies(pharmaceutical company). Post sale of German Remedies to Cadalia, the same has now been converted into a residential apartments "Green Woods Appts". Mohan Studio too had to make way for Mota Nagar and Padam Nagar. Small hotels run by Sindhis who migrated from Pakistan and Udipi Restaurants run by entrepreneurs from Mudradi Village in Udipi (Karnataka) catered to these Studios day and night.
Before 1945, Andheri was administered by a Collector as the "Suburban District"; in that year, the former Suburban District was absorbed by Mumbai city as Greater Bombay. However, the Suburban District was once again revived in about 2000 as the Mumbai Suburban District.
Andheri West has more or less rocky foundation. Gilbert Hill is one glaring example of the rocky history of this place. Up till late 1960s there was no tar road near the station and Tanga or horse carts were the main transport means to reach the nearby vicinity from the station. There was limited habitation around the station area on the west.
Contemporary Andheri West is largely a residential area, whereas Andheri East has a mixture of commercial and residential areas, including MIDC-SEEPZ (Santacruz Electronic and Export Promotion Zone), Saki Naka (an industrial area), etc. Andheri today has a population exceeding 1 million, and as per record is by far the most populous suburb of Mumbai .
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai's International Airport is at Sahar , Andheri East . Many call centers and business process outsourcing companies are located in Chakala area of Andheri East .
The World Bank has many plans for the development of the largely industrial Andheri East . After the Mumbai Metro between Versova (Andheri West ) and Ghatkopar (West ) became operational, travel time reduced from the past 1 hour 45 minutes to about 20 minutes. Work on the metro had begun in full throttle in 2008 . Metro opened to public in May , 2014 , after a series of delays .
Andheri East also has several pockets of residential areas, with quiet, tree-lined streets, easy connectivity to the Western Express Highway, and without the congestion and perpetual traffic jams that afflict most residential areas in suburban Mumbai .
In Andheri West there are old houses of the Parsi community around the station on the west side . Some of the famous Parsi bakeries include Merwan's and Ahura, which are thronged by patrons throughout the day. The road running parallel to the station is called Madhavdas Amarsey Road or M. A. Road. The Madhavdas Amarsey Road has been derived from the school Madhavdas Amarsey School situated on this road. S. V. Road is the main artery road. Link road is the new road that connects Andheri West to the recently developed and fast growing areas stretching up to Borivali and beyond. Today Andheri West is a place buzzing with sound and energy. Residential complexes have sprung up like mushrooms. Andheri has become a pin code to proudly announce.
In Andheri East , there are ancient caves, named after the Goddess Maha Kali called Mahakali Caves. They are now in ruins but recently (through the efforts of a lot of well-meaning journalists, citizens and NGOs) they have caught the attention of the government and the BMC, which is working to restore them.
- The Vanchasiddhi temple of Lord Ganesh has the second highest number of devotees everyday after the Siddhivinayak Temple in Dadar .
- SEEPZ (Santacruz Electronic and Export Promotion Zone ) is a very important SEZ (Special Economic Zone) in Mumbai . SEEPZ is located in MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation). MIDC also hosts various small and medium scale industries.
- Vijaynagar-Chandrashekhar Society is an important cultural spot. It is a society built in the '60s primarily for middle-class families and hosts Paranjape Vidyalaya, branch of Great PTV association.
- Bhawani Nagar, on Marol Maroshi Road , is another residential landmark in Andheri (East) . This colony contains 18 clusters of buildings, called plots. The earliest plot in this colony was developed in 1977 by Deepak Builders.
- Andheri 's East and West areas house some of the biggest and well known malls and software companies in the whole of Mumbai . The biggest mall of Andheri, Infinity mall , is a favourite hangout spot for people .
- Gilbert Hill is a 200 foot (61 m) monolith column of black basalt rock in Andheri , in Mumbai , India. The rock has a sheer vertical face and was created when molten lava was squeezed out of the Earth's clefts during the Mesozoic Era about 65 million years ago. According to experts, this rare geological phenomenon was the remnants of a ridge and had clusters of vertical columns in nearby Jogeshwari which were quarried off two decades ago. These vertical columns are similar to the Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, and the Devils Postpile National Monument in eastern California, USA.
- The Andheri Sports Complex (Shahaji Raje Krida Sankul) , Veera Desai Road, Andheri West , is a sports facility which has also played host to a number of Bollywood and other entertainment functions.
- The Hansraj Morarji Public School in Andheri West is considered as one of the top schools in Mumbai topping many interschool competitions,academic or sport.