In the 19th century, the Orlem (also known as Valnai) was a hamlet of just about 12 families in Malad. In 1880, Fr. Joseph Maria Braz de Souza built a private chapel dedicated to our Lady of Lourdes at Orlem. In 1882, the chapel was officially declared a part of the Apostolate of Bombay and affiliated to the church of Our Lady of Assumption, Kandivli. Later, Fr. Justin built the first school, the St Anne's High School, in 1915. Through his efforts, Orlem was constituted a separate parish, in a decree dated July 2, 1916.
Apart from the original East Indian (Catholics) settlers, the suburb has a considerable population of Gujaratis, South Indians, Marwaris and Punjabis. Real estate in the west is more expensive than in the east.
Currently there is a construction boom due to BPO spurts.
Major localities in Malad are Chincholi Bunder Road, Mind Space, Marve Road, Liberty Garden, Navy Nagar, Orlem. Sunder Nagar is on border of Malad and Goregaon.
Some of the major localities in Malad (West) are Orlem (originally called Valnai in Marathi), Evershine Nagar and Palm Court Complex.
Sunder Nagar is a locality in Malad that lies along the west side of Swami Vivekanand Road. The area was built up in the 1970s and is primarily composed of many housing complexes, typically 2 bedroom apartments. There are 3 schools, (Umedbhai Patel English School, Utkarsh Mandir and S. Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya), 1 college (Prahldrai Dalmia's Lions College) and a large garden in the limited area. The housing blocks are typically named alphabetically starting from A up to V. It borders Mandlik Nagar on the North and some defunct factories on the south.
Malad East has many popular housing colonies like Raheja Township, Govind Nagar, Mahindra Nagar and Pratap Nagar. Mahindra Nagar is a clean and green society, which was nominated as the 2nd most pollution free area in Mumbai by Eureka Forbes after Aarey Colony in Goregaon. Malad East has Daftary Road, which runs across from station on East up till Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway and this is one of the most congested roads in Mumbai suburbs. Malad East also boasts of quite a few old running schools such as Fatimadevi, Children's Academy, Nutan Vidyalay, Utkarsh Mandir, Sanskar Vidyalay. Fatimadevi English School established in 1953 is, one of the oldest educational institution in the Malad Suburb of Mumbai. Lots of great minds passed out from this institution. Children's Academy school has track record of maintaining 100% passing success at SSC board results.
Malad is fast becoming IT HUB with many BPO spurting. There are at least 7 malls and largest of them is INORBIT, voted one of the best malls in Mumbai. Inorbit Mall seemed the ultimate answer to Malad’s shopping problems.
There is a rare holy relic of Mother Mary that is on display at St Peter"s Jacobite Church, also called the Soonoro Church at Mith Chowky near Orlem. The relic, a piece of fabric believed to be part of the girdle worn by Mother Mary, is on view between September 1 and 8. The relic draw thousands of worshipers. The relic, also called a Soonoro or belt, was brought to Kerala from Syria in 1982 by the head of the Orthodox faith, Ignatius Zakka I. The Malad relic is a piece of that Soonoro.
The main artery of Malad Western side is the Marve Road that starts from SV Road is intersected by the linking road and finishes up to Madh Island Lands End. From this end you just need to cross by Ferry to reach Versova in minutes. You can find famous places that are on this road like the beautiful Laxmi Narayan Temple built by Dongre Maharaj, Orlem Church, Orlem Market, Link Road, Malvani intersection, Mith Chowki, St. Anthony's Church, INS Hamla of Navy for Training in Bridge building and Radar, this place is also called as an eye of Mumbai, Marve Beach (from here you can ferry to Essel World or Manori Beach), Erangal Beach (famous for film shootings), Old Portuguese Church, 5 star Hotel 'The Resort' at Aksa Beach and Madh Island where there is a large fishing village and an old settlement of the Koli community.
There is a market called Somwar (Monday) Bazaar, located in the 'Chincholi' area. As the name suggests, this bazaar is active only on Monday's. The locality is named after the Somwar bazaar. Unique products are sold at this bazaar by sellers from various parts of the state of Maharashtra. Orlem is region of significant Catholic population, and one of the main regions of Catholic dominance in Mumbai. A few prominent schools in the region are St. Anne's School, Carmel of St. Joseph's High School (a girl's school run by nuns of the convent), Children's Academy (Malad East), Ryan's International School and Fatima Devi (Malad East).
The Malvani locality holds a significant Muslim population. It was the worst hit region during the 92-93 riots. It also has a church which is a bus stop known as the Malvani Church Stop. On the north side of Malvani there is a huge industrial area called as Charcop.
There are many good areas which are quiet and mostly the people living in these areas are Maharashtrians, Christians, Gujarati's and Marwadi's. These areas are Adarsh Nagar, Evershine Nagar, Raheja Complex, Orlem Areas (Lourdes colony & Tank Lane), Mamlatdar Wadi, Liberty Garden, Ramchandralane. The famous festivals celebrated in Malad are Navrathri, Diwali, Christmas and Ganpathi. Near the post office at Ramchandralane there is SNDT women's college. This college is the best place for females of middle class to study. It offers various courses in various streams thereby trying to educate as many females as possible. There are regular events at this college and the ground is often leased out for marriages and parties.
The Aksa, Erangal and Marve beaches are within accessible distance from Malad.