Gateway of India
|Gateway of India|
|Elevation||10 m (33 ft)|
|Construction started||31 March 1911|
|Inaugurated||4 December 1924|
|Cost||₹ 2.1 million (1911)|
|Owner||Archaeological Survey of India|
|Height||26 m (85 ft)|
|Diameter||15 metres (49 feet)|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||Gammon India|
The Gateway of India is an arch-monument built in the early twentieth-century located in the city of Mumbai, India. The monument was erected to commemorate the landing of the first British monarch in India. King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary arrived at Apollo Bunder, Mumbai (then Bombay) on 2 December 1911. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, incorporating elements of 16th century Gujarati architecture, the foundation stone for the gateway was laid on 31 March 1911. However, during the royal visit in 1911, the gateway was not yet built and a mock cardboard structure greeted the monarch. The final design of the monument by architect George Wittet was sanctioned only in 1914, and construction was completed in 1924. The structure is a triumphal arch made of basalt, which is 26 metres (85 feet) high.
After its construction the gateway was used as a symbolic ceremonial entrance to British India for important colonial personnel. It stood reflecting the majesty of the imperial British Raj in south Asia. It is also the monument from where the last British troops left India in 1948, following Indian independence. The gateway is located on the waterfront at the Apollo Bunder, in south Mumbai. It overlooks the Arabian Sea and is located at an angle, opposite to the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. Today, the monument is synonymous with the city of Mumbai, and is amongst its prime tourist attractions. The gateway also holds significance for the local Jewish community as it has been the spot for Hanukkah celebrations, with the lighting of the menorah, since 2003.
The gateway faced a terror attack in 2003, when there was a bomb blast in a taxi parked in front of it. Access to the gateway was curbed after people, including news reporters and cameramen, thronged to the gateway premises following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, when the Taj Hotel opposite the gateway and other locations in its vicinity were targeted.
In March 2019, the state government proposed on implementing a four-step plan to develop the site and the area around it, for the convenience of tourists visiting the gateway, following a direction issued by the state governor in February 2019.
History and significance
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of George V, Emperor of India and Mary of Teck, Empress consort, to Bombay, prior to the Delhi Durbar on 2 December 1911. However, they only got to see a cardboard model of the monument, since the construction did not begin until 1915. The foundation stone was laid on 31 March 1913 by the governor of Bombay, Sir George Sydenham Clarke with the final design of George Wittet sanctioned on 31 March 1914.
The land on which the gateway was built on was previously used by the local fishing community. The jetty was later renovated and used as the landing spot for British governors and other prominent people. In its early days, the gateway remained amongst the first structures visible to visitors arriving in Bombay by sea.
Between 1915 and 1919, work continued at the Apollo Bunder to reclaim the land on which the gateway was to be built, along with a new sea wall. Its foundations were completed in 1920 while construction was finished in 1924. The gateway was opened to the public on 4 December 1924 by the viceroy Earl of Reading.
Following Indian independence, the last British troops to leave India, the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through this gateway with a 21-gun salute, as a part of a ceremony on 28 February 1948, signalling the end of the British Raj.
The gateway was built with the aim of reflecting the majesty of the British Empire. It commemorates an important legacy of British colonial rule, the first visit of a British monarch to India, and served as an entry point for prominent British personalities into India. Today, the Gateway of India is synonymous with the city of Mumbai.
Since 2003, the gateway has been the spot for the local Jewish community to light the menorah for Hanukkah celebrations every year. This ritual was started by Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg of the chabad in Mumbai (located in Nariman House). It also became a site for prayers following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks which targeted, amongst others, Nariman House. Rabbi Holtzberg lost his life in the 2008 terror attacks.
Design and architecture
The Gateway of India has a large arch, with a height of 26 metres. The monument is built in yellow basalt and reinforced concrete. The stone was locally obtained, and the perforated screens were brought from Gwalior. The monument faces towards the Mumbai Harbour. There are four turrets on the structure of the gateway, and there are steps constructed behind the arch of the gateway which lead to the Arabian Sea. The Scottish architect, George Wittet combined elements of the Roman triumphal arch and 16th-century architecture of Gujarat. The architecture also combines indigenous architectural elements with elements of Islamic architecture, known as the Indo-Saracenic.
The central dome is 48 feet (15 metres) in diameter and 83 feet (25 metres) above the ground at its highest point. The harbour front was realigned in order to make an esplanade, which would sweep down to the centre of the town. On each side of the arch, there are large halls with the capacity to hold six hundred people. The cost of the construction was ₹2 million (US$29,000), borne mainly by the then Government of India. Due to a paucity of funds, the approach road was never built. Hence, the gateway stands at an angle to the road leading up to it.
In February 2019, Seagate Technology and CyArk embarked on a mission to digitally preserve the gateway, by digital scanning and archiving the monument. The images and data collected will be used to make photo-real three dimensional models. This is a part of CyArk's international programme for digitally preserving heritage monuments. It involves employing aerial surveys conducted with drones, terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR), and photogrammetry exercises. The drawing and three-dimensional models will help in understanding any future changes to the monument and its structure.
The Gateway of India stands at an angle, opposite to the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, which was built in 1903. In the grounds of the gateway, opposite the monument, stands the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Maratha ruler who used guerilla warfare to establish the Maratha empire in the Sahyadri mountain range in 17th-century. The statue was unveiled on 26 January 1961 on the occasion of India's Republic Day. The other statue in the premises is that of Swami Vivekananda, by Indian sculptor Sitaram S. Arte.
There are five jetties located around the monument. The first jetty is exclusive to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, while the second and third are used for commercial ferry operations, the fourth one is closed, and the fifth is exclusive to the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. The second and third jetties are the starting point for tourists to reach the Elephanta Caves, which is fifty minutes away by boat from the monument. Other routes from the gateway include ferry rides to Rewas and Mandwa, in Alibaug. These ferries reportedly carry an overload of daily passengers.
Tourism and development
The Gateway of India is amongst the prime tourist attractions in Mumbai. It is also a regular place to congregate for locals, street vendors, and photographers. In 2012, the 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.
By the year 2012, the Bombay Municipal Corporation increased the plaza area around the gateway for pedestrians by restoring the area at a cost of ₹5 crores. It involved the cutting down of trees, reducing the garden area, replacing toilets, and closing down of the car parking area. There was a dispute over the plans prepared for the project in between Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Urban Design Research Institute, and the government was criticised for poor implementation of the project which strayed from the original plan.
In January 2014, Philips Lighting India, in association with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, undertook the expenditure of ₹2 crores to light up the gateway, by installing an LED lighting system with sixteen million shades. Philips used products from its Philips Color Kinetics and LED street lighting, and did not receive any branding for the illumination project in which 132 light points were created, which were reportedly sixty-percent more energy efficient than the old lighting system.
The Gateway of India has interested companies and corporate houses such as the Tata group, the RPG group, and the JSW group, who have expressed their wish maintain its premises and also build toilet facilities. This happened after the state government identified 371 heritage sites under its Maharashtra Vaibhav State Protected Monuments Adoption Scheme (MVSPMAS). Under this scheme, companies and corporates can adopt heritage monuments and give out funds for their maintenance, to satisfy their corporate social responsibility. The scheme also provides sponsors with the opportunity to generate revenue by selling their rights to feature the heritage monuments in advertisements and commercials. While another mode of generating revenue for sponsors is to sell tickets and charge tourists for the use of facilities established by them.
In February 2019, the Maharashtra state government initiated a plan to restore, clean, and beautify the monument. A project plan was to be prepared in a month. The state governor, C. Vidyasagar Rao, directed the Bombay Municipal commissioner to submit a report on measures to be taken for the purpose.
In March 2019, the state government decided on implementing a plan to manage tourists visiting the site. It proposed adopting a four-step process involving — physical conservation of the monument, a light-and-sound show, relocation of the anchorage around the monument, and a streamlined ticketed entry. The plan was proposed in light of global UNESCO norms for protected heritage sites and in light of the various stakeholders, namely — the Directorate of Museums and Archaeology, which has the monument within its purview; the Mumbai Port Trust, which is entrusted with the land; and the Bombay Municipal Corporation, which controls the location. The task of coming up with a suitable management plan was delegated to architects.
Events and incidents
The gateway witnessed a terrorist attack on 25 August 2003, when there was a bomb blast in front of it. It happened when a taxi containing the bomb, parked near the Taj Mahal hotel, blasted reportedly throwing people around into the sea.
Following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which targeted the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, opposite to the gateway, crowds of people, including news television reporters and cameramen thronged to the gateway. Subsequently, public access to the area around was restricted. Following the attacks, there had been a proposal to close all jetties and replace them with two newer ones to be built near the Bombay Presidency Radio Club.
Jali work on the arches
Internal view, with muqarnas designs
Beating the Retreat and Tattoo Ceremony at the gateway, on Navy Day, in 2018
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