Located at Apollo Bunder in the bustling Colaba area of Bombay (now Mumbai) and facing the wide Arabian Sea, the Gateway of India with its regal arches is the unofficial icon and one of the most popular tourist hotspots of the city. Designed by Scottish architect George Wittet, the majestic structure was built to celebrate and honour the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, for their formal proclamation as Emperor and Empress of India at the Delhi Durbar in December 1911.The imposing structure is a beautiful confluence of Indian, Arabic and Western architecture and is considered as one of the most distinguished monuments in Bombay.
The construction work of the Gateway of India was carried out by Gammon India Limited. The foundation stone laid on 31st March 1911,by Sir George Sydenham Clarke, the then Governor of Bombay at what was, during those days, only a crude jetty used by the local fishing community. Ridiculously, a cardboard model of the proposed structure was presented to the Royal couple, while the final design of the Scottish architect was sanctioned on March 31, 1914. Initial work relating to the reclamation of land for the proposed building and a new sea wall at the Apollo Bunder (Port) started in 1915 and after the completion of that initial part in 1924, actual construction started and was completed in 1924. The monumental structure of the Gateway of India was formally inaugurated by the Viceroy of India, Rufus Isaacs, Earl of Reading, on December 4, 1924.
The Gateway of India, basically a Triumphal Arch, cuts an angle to the road leading to it and stands facing out to the Bombay Harbor from the tip of Apollo Bunder. Built with local yellow basalt stones, the structure was built predominantly in an Indo-Saracenic architectural style with some Muslim influence. The perforated screens, used in the building were brought from Gwalior.
The rectangular structure consists of three sections. The 85 feet high central arches of the structure are attached to large halls on each side. Each hall, with a capacity of 600 persons, is beautifully covered with intricately carved stone screens. The dome in the central block is 48 feet in diameter and is joined by 4 minarets and is also decorated with intricate latticework. Steps at the rear side of the Gateway directly lead into the Arabian Sea. Framed with the arch, the view of the blue expanse of the Arabian sea, dotted with the fishing boats and the luxury yachts, is a real treat for the eyes. The majestic Gateway of India, illuminated after dusk also presents a breathtaking view for the visitors. The Gateway is the connecting point for boat rides to and from the famous Elephanta Caves, located on an island about 10 kilometers away from the shores of Mumbai.
On 26 November 2008, 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organization based in Pakistan, disembarked from boats in two groups at the Gateway of India and carried out indiscriminate shooting and bombing attacks, killing more than 150 Indian and foreign nationals. Before that, on 25th August 2003, the Gateway of India was the target of twin bombing along with the crowded Zaveri Bazar, which killed 54 and injured 244 people.