Gateway of India (built 1913-24)
The Gateway of India is one of the distinguishing landmarks of Mumbai. Set at the tip of the reclaimed land of the Apollo Bunder, it adjoins the Mumbai Harbour and the Arabian Sea in the Colaba area of the city. The monument marks the area as one of India�s major ports and as a principle point where many visitors originally arrived in India. Formerly it served to symbolize elements of the British grandeur and influence in India. Today it is a popular tourist attraction and meeting point.
The Gateway is a huge stone Arch of Triumph originally constructed to commemorates the first-ever visit of a British Monarch to India. King George V and his consort Queeen Mary came ashore near here in December, 1911. The foundations were laid in December 1913, but from then until 1919 construction of a seawall and reclarmation of the land from the sea interrupted the project. Construction of the monument was finally begun in May 1920, and it was formally opened in December 1924. It is built of a yellow Kharodi basalt from nearby quarries. The central dome has a diameter of 48 ft, (14.4m); it is 83 ft (24.9m) to its apex.
It was designed by the Scotsman George Wittet (1878-1926), who helped popularize the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture that combined Gothic-like flamboyance with Muslim-Indian architectural features. Wittet also designed the nearby Prince of Wales Museum, the King Edward Memorial Hospital and the Institute of Science, among other significant buildings. The Gateway is a traditional-style triumphal arch based on 16th century Muslim styles of Gujarat. The last British troops formally to leave India formal passed through its archway in February, 1948. Since then it has become a much appreciated symbol of Mumbai, the financial capital of India.
In the immediate vicinity and behind a small park is the majestic and historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which pre-dates the Gateway by twenty years. The Indian industrialist and nationalist, Jamshetji Nusserwangji Tata,(1839-1904) laid the foundations of the hotel in 1898. Barred from entering the exclusive Green�s Hotel because of his Indian nationality, he decided to build a hotel that would far surpass the hotel from which he had been barred. The Taj Mahal opened in 1903 and was first modern hotel in Bombay. In its time it was one of the most modern hotels in Asia with Moorish domes and the finest European technology that was then available. It became Jamshetji�s statement of patriotic pride in his city as well as one of India�s enduring architectural landmarks.
Twin bomb blasts in Mumbai on August 25, 2003, included one that exploded in a taxi in a parking lot by the Gateway of India and the Hotel. The terrorist explosions took 52 lives. Little permanent damage occurred to the two major monuments in the area.
Text by Robert D. Fiala, Concordia University, Nebraska
The approximate location of the temple is 18.921984' N, 72.834544' E (WGS 84 map datum).
All images copyright 1999, 2003 professor Robert D. Fiala of Concordia University, Nebraska, USA
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