BENGALURU: If one goes back in history, many fortified cities in the world had a gateway that was designed and built depending on their geographical location, the security needs, or demonstration of the might of the ruling powers. One such structure that was built only to display royal power, the colonial subjugation of an ancient country and the British imperialistic leanings was the Gateway of India. Today, it is 90 years old and still stands tall and majestic.
Facing the Arabian Sea, the Gateway which has withstood terror attacks in recent times, has become a popular tourist destination, a cultural rendezvous, a hawker’s delight and of course, a photographer’s paradise.
On a visit to Mumbai, one should make it a point to visit this honey basalt and reinforced concrete structure that is built to a height of 83 feet and encompasses both the Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. It has reception halls, minarets, arches and other embellishments from the medieval
Gujarat architectural era. The arch of the Gateway is decorated profusely with perforated screens with a clear writing on the wall: this monument was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in December 1911.
Come evening, one can relax here or get photographed standing in front of the mighty colonial edifice as if you own it. The band of photographers won’t leave you alone till you get captured in at least one of the poses he shows you in an album he carries around and literally thrusts in front of your noses. The competition is pretty heavy and one has to pick and choose.
It is an ideal spot for watching people from every corner of the country and plenty of foreigners too who are either chatting, eating bhelpuri or busy taking photographs. The space around the Gateway is so jampacked with people, vendors, bands, musicians, and souvenir materials that one has to bear the constant badgering, heckling and noise emanating from all around.
However, providing a picturesque view of the ocean front, the Gateway has been a popular space for New Year celebrations, the Ajanta music and dance festival, and many other cultural events. The New Year celebrations attract many people and one can see them dancing, hugging and greeting one another even as the ships anchored in the harbour beam their search lights on the Gateway.
Next to this monument is the historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel that has now turned into a fortified structure (with a bullet proof glass facade) to stall any terrorist attack. Stay till the evening hours as the Gateway facing the Mumbai Harbour looks beautiful and majestic when it is illuminated.
In front of this, is the Apollo Bunder which was once the traditional dockyard for the local fishermen. This was reclaimed by the British to build the Gateway.