Mumbai’s most famous monument, this is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone.
Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianised, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai’s splendid natural harbour.
Built in the Indo-saracenic style, the Gateway of India is meant to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, prior to the Darbar in Delhi in December 1911. The foundation stone was laid on March 31, 1911 and George Wittet’s final design sanctioned in August 1914.
Between 1915 and 1919 work proceeded on reclamations at Apollo Pier for the land on which the gateway and the new sea wall would be built. The foundations were completed in 1920.
The Gateway is built from yellow Kharodi basalt and reinforced concrete. The central dome is 48 feet in diameter and 83 feet above ground at its highest point. The whole harbour front was realigned in order to come in line with a planned esplanade which would sweep down to the centre of the town.
The cost of the construction was Rs. 21 lakhs, borne mainly by the Government of India. For lack of funds, the approach road was never built, and the Gateway now stands at an angle to the road leading up to it.
The construction was completed in 1924, and the Gateway opened on December 4, 1924 by the Viceroy, Earl of Reading.
The last British troops to leave India, the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the gate in a ceremony on February 28, 1948.