Gateway of India witnesses yet another historical event

Gateway of India witnesses yet another historical event

Demonstrators attend a protest against attacks on the students of New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), outside the Gateway of India monument in Mumbai. (Reuters photo)

The majestic Gateway of India has been a witness to several important historical events for over a century. While on one side of the monument is the Arabian Sea on the other side faces the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

Just between the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace is the grand statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the legendary Maratha warrior-king. Besides, it also has a statue of Swami Vivekananda, who introduced India philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world.

In fact, Gateway of India in south Mumbai, is one of the most photographed places in the world.

Hours after the attack on the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi on Sunday, the Gateway of India became a symbol of resistance when from midnight as students and activists started converging there.

The Gateway of India and the Apollo Bunder has a very unique history.

The Gateway of India was built to celebrate and honor the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India for their formal proclamation as Emperor and Empress of India at the Delhi Durbar in December, 1911. The foundation stone for the monument was laid by Sir George Sydenham Clarke, the Governor of Bombay on March 31, 1911 at what was a crude jetty used by the fishing community. A cardboard model of the proposed structure was presented to the Royal visitors and the final design of Scottish architect, George Wittet, was sanctioned on March 31, 1914. The formal inauguration of the Gateway of India was done by the Viceroy of India, Rufus Isaacs, Earl of Reading, on December 4, 1924.

The Scottish architect George Wittet combined the elements of the Roman triumphal arch and the 16th-century architecture of Gujarat. Its design is a combination of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles -- the arch is of Muslim style while the decorations are of the Hindu style. The gateway is built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete.

 "The Gateway of India has its own significance in Mumbai’s history and India’s history," said veteran Gandhian and activist Jatin Desai. "In the past also, there had been protests, but this is one of the big students’ protest that it has witnessed which include midnight vigil," he added.

One of the rich aspects of the history is that when on January 9, 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned to India after 22 years of stay in South Africa, he landed at the Gateway of India-Apollo Bunder area.

The gateway is also the monument from where the last British troops left India in 1948, following Indian independence.

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