During British rule, portions of the western coast of India under direct British rule were part of the Bombay Presidency. In 1937, the Bombay Presidency became a province of British India.

After Indian independence in 1947, many former princely states, including the Gujarat states and the Deccan states, were merged with the former Bombay province, which was renamed the State of Bombay.

The State of Bombay was significantly enlarged on November 1, 1956, expanding eastward to incorporate the Marathi-speaking Marathwada region of Hyderabad State, the Marathi-speaking Vidarbha region of southern Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarati-speaking Saurashtra and Kutch. The southernmost, Kannada-speaking portion of the state became part of the new linguistic state of Karnataka. The state was being referred to by the local inhabitants as Maha Dwibhashi Rajya, literally, the great bilingual state.

The state was home to both Marathi and Gujarati linguistic movements, both seeking to create separate linguistic states. The Mahagujarat movement in Gujarat was led by Shri Indubhai Yagnik. On May 1, 1960, after a movement for a separate Marathi state turned violent, the State of Bombay was partitioned into the States of Gujarat and Maharashtra.