Some places are etched in your memory, heart and soul forever!
The Gateway of India in Mumbai – on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area of South Mumbai overlooking the Arabian Sea is one such place for me. It has memories that will last a lifetime and more. My love for monuments and grandiose structures is not a hidden story at all. But I will come to the history of the structure in a while. First let me talk about the reason why that place holds so much meaning for me.Gateway of India in #Mumbai - A photo essay! #TravelwithArchie @archanackapoor Click To Tweet
What Gateway of India means to me
When we were kids and there were hardly any places to go to as a family, the Gateway was one of our saviors. And what a savior it was! My father used to take us there for a walk around the monument and a boat-ride. There were steamboats and motor boats that took us out into the sea and they operate even now. It was a fascinating thing to do. The steamboat would take you on a half an hour long boat ride on the sea. I guess my love for water really started then. I was always a water baby, what with being born in a city like Mumbai, surrounded by water everywhere. But the boat rides were what made me love the ocean because they gave me a sense of life and how beautiful it is. The calmness, tranquility and serenity (perhaps they all mean the same thing, but I am just trying to emphasize on it) that those boat rides got me were out of this world!
The boat used to be very crowded and I always preferred to be on the open upper deck, literally hanging on to the railing there. But the crowds and the noise meant nothing, nor made any difference to me. Because in my mind I was always alone, enjoying the water, the waves and the soothing feeling that it brought me. I can’t really describe my feelings. Some things I guess are better left unsaid. Sometimes, some elements give so much joy and pleasure that the feeling is best left as is.
I remember whenever dad used to be in the mood to take us out, which most probably happened on the weekends, I would jump at the idea of going for a boat ride at the Gateway. That also helped us all connect in many ways as a family. There were times when we also clicked pictures, but I guess all those pictures are left behind in my home in Mumbai. What I am carrying with me and in the deepest and happiest corner of my heart is the memory of that lovely place.
When I got married, I was ecstatic about showing off the Gateway of India to my husband He is a Delhi-ite and had obviously seen India Gate. But then is there any comparison at all? The Delhi-Mumbai war can go on. But since both of us were in India and in Mumbai, we took a BEST bus (public bus in Mumbai) to the Gateway. It was a beautiful and romantic evening and yes, I do have photos of that evening.
History of Gateway of India
Synonymous with Mumbai, the Gateway of India is an 85 feet high yellow basalt and indissoluble concrete arch at the water’s edge in the Mumbai Harbour. This monument was built during the British rule in India, to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in Mumbai. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, the foundation stone for the Gateway of India was laid on 31 March 1911, by Sir George Sydenham Clarke, who was then the Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai). The architectural design of Gateway of India was fashioned by the British architect, George Wittet. Although, the final plan was approved only in 1914, the reclamations at Apollo Bunder were completed only in 1919.
One can also find traces of Gujarati and Muslim architectural styles incorporated in the structure of the grandiose edifice. The central dome of the monument is about 48 feet in diameter and 83 feet in height. Designed with intricate latticework, the 4 turrets are the prominent features of the entire structure of the Gateway of India.
The structure itself is quite majestic and a hybrid of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, if you take a closer look. There are steps constructed behind the arch of the Gateway that lead to the Arabian Sea. The monument is structured in such a beautiful way that one can witness the large expanse of the ‘blue blanket’ right ahead, welcoming and sending off ships and visitors. Initially, it used to be a crude jetty that was used by the fishing community and then later it was renovated and used as a ceremonial entrance and landing place for Viceroys, British governors and other prominent people. Years later when the British rule ended in 1947, the last horde of British troops left India through this Gateway. Ironic isn’t it? This colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph thanks to the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway.
The Gateway of India, also referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai is one of India’s most unique landmarks situated in Mumbai city. The construction of the colossal structure was finally completed in 1924. The Gateway of India is a monument that marks India’s chief ports and is a major tourist attraction for visitors who arrive in India for the first time (though for me it holds life-time attraction value). There was a time when the monument represented the grandeur of the British rule in India. The total construction cost of the Gateway was approximately 2.1 Million INR and the whole expense was borne by the Indian government.
While the monument is always open and people can visit at any time of the day, the best time to visit the Gateway of India is from November to March. Post the well known Mumbai monsoons, the climate becomes very pleasant with less chances for downpours.
Attractions close to the Gateway of India
The Gateway of India faces the vast Arabian Sea, flanked by Mumbai’s other scenic attraction, Marine Drive which is a road running parallel to the sea. The Elephanta Caves are also located very close to the Gateway of India. One can travel on motor boats to reach the Elephanta Islands. The statues of the great Maratha leader Shivaji and Swami Vivekananda are seen at the entrance of the Elephanta Caves. The Taj Mahal Hotel – India’s most prestigious and luxurious hotel owned by the Tata Group is situated exactly opposite the Gateway of India.
Important events around the Gateway of India
The passing of the ‘First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry’ was the first main event that took place at the Gateway of India. This ceremony was conducted on February 28, 1948, when the last set of British troops and divisions left India, post-independence. Unfortunately, the monument has also been witness to three terror attacks from the beginning of the 21st Century, twice in 2003 itself The one incident that shook the entire nation was the disembarkation point of Pakistani terrorists in 2008, when four gunmen attacked the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower.
The majestic Gateway of India is a must-visit monument by the night, in its pristine glory against the backdrop of the thunderous Arabian sea. It is visited by millions of people across the world every year. Just like me, it holds a very significant place in the hearts and lives of Mumbai-kars, as the Gateway defines the opulence of an amazing city that is a culmination of both, historic and modern cultural environment.
Have you ever visited the Gateway of India?
Featured Image: Flickr
One who is born with wings has many stories to tell. I was a born wayfaring story-teller! But then, how does a chirpy story-teller who also has wings on her back and wheels on her feet find a colossal audience to recount those sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes eccentric encounters. I realised there was no other way I could narrate my tales to the world unless i started penning them down in black and white. That's how TravelwithArchie was born. I love calling myself a vagabond! One who dreams about places and then travels there to see how they look in the real world. Come, borrow my wings for a while and see the world with my lens!