The Gateway of India is a monument built during the 20th century in Mumbai City of Maharashtra state in Western India. It is located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai and overlooks the Arabian Sea. The structure is a basalt arch, 26 metres (85 feet) high. It lies at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg at the water's edge in Mumbai Harbour. It was a crude jetty used by the fishing community which was later renovated and used as a landing place for British governors and other prominent people. In earlier times, it would have been the first structure that visitors arriving by boat in Mumbai would have seen. The Gateway has also been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai, and is the city's top tourist attraction. The India Gate in New Delhi is similar to the Gateway of India in Mumbai. The structure was erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder, when they visited India in 1911. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, the foundation stone for the Gateway of India was laid on 31 March 1911. The final design of George Wittet was sanctioned in 1914 and the construction of the monument was completed in 1924. The Gateway was later the ceremonial entrance to India for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay. It served to allow entry and access to India.
The monument has witnessed three terror attacks from the beginning of the 21st century; twice in 2003 and it was also the disembarkation point in 2008 when four gunmen attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai, prior to the Delhi Durbar, in December 1911. However, they only got to see a cardboard model of the structure since the construction did not begin till 1915. The foundation stone was laid on March 31, 1911, by the governor of Bombay Sir George Sydenham Clarke, with the final design of George Wittet sanctioned on March 31, 1914. The gateway was built from yellow basalt and concrete. Between 1915 and 1919, work proceeded at Apollo Bundar (Port) to reclaim the land on which the gateway and the new sea wall would be built. The foundations were completed in 1920, and construction was finished in 1924. The gateway was opened on December 4, 1924, by the Viceroy, the Earl of Reading.
The last British troops to leave India following the country's independence, the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the Gateway on their way out in a ceremony on February 28, 1948, signalling the end of British rule.
It is the place where the viceroys and governors used to land upon their arrival in India. Though built as a welcome to King George V for his visit of 1911, then an event of grand significance for British India and the British empire, today serves as a "monumental memento" of British colonial rule over India. Built right next to the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel, for British arriving for the first time to India, the gateway was a symbol of the "power and majesty" of the British empire.
Opposite the gateway stands the statue of Shivaji, the king who used guerilla warfare to establish the Maratha empire in the Sahyadri mountain range in the 17th century, as a symbol of Maratha "pride and courage". The statue was unveiled on 26 January 1961 on the occasion of India's Republic Day. The other statue in the area is that of Swami Vivekananda, by renowned sculptor Sitaram S. Arte.
There are five jetties at the gateway. The first jetty is exclusive to the Atomic Research Centre, the second and third are used for commercial ferry operations, the fourth is closed and the fifth is exclusive to the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.
Gateway of India thronged by tourists
After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, there has been a proposal to close all these jetties and replace them with two newer ones to be built near the Bombay Presidency Radio Club nearby. The second and third jetties are the starting point for tours of Elephanta Caves, which is a 50-minute boat ride away by ferry. Other routes from the Gateway include ferry rides to Alibaug and Mandwa; these ferries are said to carry passengers above their certified capacity due to their popularity.
The Gateway of India is a major tourist destination and a popular gathering spot for locals, street vendors and photographers. In 2012, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation moved the "Elephanta Festival of music and dance" from its original location at Elephanta Caves (where it had been celebrated for 23 years) to the Gateway due to the increased capacity offered by the venue. The Gateway can host 2,000 to 2,500 people, whereas Elephanta Caves could host only 700 to 800 people.
A bomb planted in a taxi exploded near the gateway in the 2003. The gateway was also the site of a major bomb-blast in August 2003 and was the disembarkation point of the terrorists participating in the November 2008 terror attacks when four gunmen attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. Public movement in certain areas was restricted after the 2008 attacks.