This impressive monument was planned in the early 20 th century to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George and Queen Mary to India, although sticklers for detail will be interested to learn it wasn’t actually built until 1924. The royal couple had to be satisfied instead with a cardboard model of its proposed grandeur, the basalt version of which today sits on the waterfront at Apollo Bunder, overlooking the Arabian Sea.
On completion, however, this iconic landmark, which combines Muslim and Hindu architectural styles, lived up to its name by literally serving as the entrance to India for the British authorities. It was an exit point, too: in 1948, just 24 years after it was finished, it was through this very Gateway that the last of the British troops departed India for good, as the country declared independence and the postcolonial era began.
These days, it’s beloved by locals and visitors to Mumbai alike – it’s considered to be Mumbai’s top tourist attraction and one of the best people-watching spots ever. All human life is here, as the saying goes, and it’s fascinating stuff. Find yourself a comfy spot, grab a bhelpuri (delicious snack made from puffed rice, fried dough, lentils and herbs) from a local street vendor and settle down to soak up the atmos. After all, you’re on Indian time now.
As befits its name, the Gateway of India serves as a great starting point for explorations further afield – or just next door, in the case of the Taj Mahal Hotel. This is one of India’s finest and most luxurious hotels, the scale of which must be seen to be believed. It’s actually two distinct buildings – the Palace and the Tower – and the over-arching theme is Indio-Saracenic, a style favoured by British architects working in India at the time. It’s the hotel of choice for visiting dignitaries and maharajas (Indian princes), and many a Bollywood star has been known to hang their hat in the finest of the hotel’s 285 rooms and suites.
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The Gateway of India is almost at the southernmost tip of Mumbai, on the coast. It’s a 2.5km rickshaw ride from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal and 2.4km from Churchgate, the southern terminus on the western line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway.
It’s a monument that never sleeps – visit any time of the day or night.
There’s no dress code, as such, but dress conservatively (as the Indians do), which means legs and shoulders covered.
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