Gateway of India

The Gateway of India is Mumbai's—and perhaps India's—must-see tourist spot. The reason is twofold: Not only is the Mumbai Gateway a genuinely impressive structure, but it also carries the weight of India's vast colonial heritage. Consequently, a visit to the Gateway of India in Mumbai can be considered both a photo opportunity and a lesson in Indian history.

A Gateway of India history lesson is revealing precisely because it seems to tell both sides of the colonial story. The gateway was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, a visit that confirmed British dominion over the country. The construction of the Gateway of India was completed in 1924, some nine years after its foundation stone was laid. This was clearly meant as an extravagant monument, and indeed as it stands today the Mumbai Gateway is one of the most instantly impressive pieces of architectural tribute you'll likely see in India, probably rivaled only by the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. It's somewhat ironic, then, that the Gateway of India in Mumbai today signifies Indian independence as much as it does the Raj era of power. As independence was ushered into India in 1948, the last battalion of British infantry symbolically passed through the Gateway of India before setting sail for home.

The structure itself boasts a fascinating design, mixing a fully colonial sense of scale—bigger is better—with Gujarati decorative flourishes. It was made from a mixture of reinforced concrete and yellow basalt, which combine to make the Gateway of India look both steadfast and attractive. The Gateway's beautiful façade is also well complemented by Mumbai's harbor. As it stands right next to the water, boat rides from the Gateway of India to nearby attractions such as Elephanta Island are easily arranged.

For tourists, a visit to the Mumbai Gateway is an important part of the itinerary when exploring things to do in Mumbai. Consequently, this is a busy area, and for every local picnicker and chatting teenager, you'll also find food vendors, balloon sellers, photographers, and beggars trying to make the most of the heavy tourist presence. As ever in India, the best way to deal with unwanted attention is to be polite but firm ; making eye contact when saying no can go a long way. Taking a Victoria, an ornate horse-drawn carriage, from the Gateway of India in Mumbai is a time-honored and romantic thing to do, though as a tourist you'll have to barter vigorously to get a good price.

Mumbai is a vibrant city, and there is a wealth of things to do that await the visitor following their excursion to the Gateway of India. This is India's most modern and lively metropolis, after all. Favorite attractions among visitors include the galleries and museums of Kala Ghoda, the promenades of Marine Drive, and the Christian heritage of Kotachiwadi.

Having exhausted Mumbai, you'll find extending your India vacation into other areas is eminently easy. Mumbai is connected to nearly all major (and minor) cities in India, with train and coach routes leaving frequently. Many tourists head south, to the beaches of Goa and the rice fields of Kerala, while those who head north get to sample the Golden Triangle tours that take in places such as the Taj Mahal and New Delhi.

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