(Last Updated on : 27/01/2010)
The Gateway of India is the most famous monument of Mumbai
and is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It is a great historical monument built during the British rule in the country. Located on the waterfront in South Mumbai, the Gateway is a basalt arch 26 metres high. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, prior to the Darbar in Delhi in December 1911. The British architect George Wittet, built the Gateway of India at Apollo Bunder, which was a common meeting place. Even today, the Gateway is traditionally the first thing that visitors notice in Bombay. The Gateway steps also lead down to the waterfront, where boat trips can be had to locations such as Elephanta Island
The foundation stone of the Gateway of India was laid down by the then Governor of Bombay on March 31st 1911. The Gateway is built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. While Indo-Saracenic in architectural style, elements are derived from the Muslim architectural styles of 16th century Gujarat. The central dome is 15 metres in diameter and 26 metres above ground at its highest point and is joined with four turrets and intricate latticework carved on stones.
The arch alone was built at the cost of 21 lakhs. It is built in Indo-Sarcenic style, though some influence of Gujarati style is also evident in its architecture. The whole harbour front was realigned in order to come in line with a planned esplanade, which would sweep down to the centre of the town. However, due to the lack of funds, the approach road was never built, and so the Gateway stands at an angle to the road leading up to it. The structure itself is quite majestic and a hybrid of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
In the past Gateway of India used to be the arrival point for visitors from the west. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. The Gateway faces the vast Arabian Sea, flanked by Mumbai`s another attraction, Marine Drive, a road running parallel to the sea. The majestic monument is a must-visit at night, in its pristine glory against the backdrop of the sea. It is visited by millions of people across the world every year and is a very significant figure in the lives of the people of Mumbai, as the Gateway defines the grandeur of the city that is a culmination of both, historic and modern cultural environment.