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The 85-feet-high commemorative arch, the Gateway of India, is one of the most famous and most visited attractions in Mumbai. The monument’s magnificent location, at the harbour of India’s largest city, is the starting point for various excursions on the water. The Gateway of India is situated right across from the world-famous 5-star Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai (known then as Bombay) in 1911. However, the monument was only completed in 1924. It is quite ironic that not long after that time, the ceremonial arch became the symbol of the end of India’s colonial period. In 1948, the last British troops marched through this archway as they left the country. The Gateway of India has a striking style with references to both Hindu and Islamic architecture.
Today, the Gateway of India is one of the most visited locations in the city, where both locals and visitors like to gather. They are not only attracted by the monumental structure but also by the activities on the surrounding square. It sometimes looks like a big street circus. A colourful collection of vendors ply a variety of wares from nuts, tea, fruit and postcards to giant balloons and instant photographs. On the wharf behind the monument are small boats offering a tour of Mumbai’s harbour. Further down, the ferries depart for Elephanta, a nearby island with beautiful temples carved out of the rocks. The Gateway of India is also the perfect starting point for a walk through the lively neighbourhood of Colaba, packed with shops, restaurants and old cafés – such as the Leopold Café, which opened in 1871.
“A colourful collection of street vendors ply a variety of goods”
Close to the Gateway of India we find another historic building: The Taj Mahal Palace. In 1903, a rich Indian industrialist commissioned the construction of this 5-star hotel. The list of famous guests is endless and includes the names of King George V, John Lennon and President Obama. This hotel with its majestic façade is known for its enormous dimensions: it has over 550 rooms, 11 restaurants and a café that is open 24 hours a day. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, have a seat in the romantic Sea Lounge, a tea room with an ocean view.