Mumbai, which was formerly addressed as Bombay, was later redesigned and new buildings were constructed. The city is a perfect blend of Gothic, Victorian, art deco, Indo Saracenic architecture along with contemporary style buildings. All these architectural styles can be evidently witnessed in important structures of Mumbai. Ranging from ancient buildings to contemporary skyscrapers Mumbai serves as a favourite spot for many people.
The skyline of the city can be described as a perfect line of tradition meeting modernity. Some of the few important structures of the city which constitutes the mental image of Mumbai are:
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Gothic style
- Mumbai High Court – Gothic revival style’
- Royal Bombay Yacht Club – Gothic style
- Dhanraj Mahal – Art deco
- University of Mumbai – Venetian Gothic style
- Elphinstone College – Victorian Style.
The style of architecture, the openings, materials used and every other thing about these landmarks describe the cultural aspect of Mumbai. It is believed that after Miami, Mumbai has the largest number of Art deco buildings in the world.
GATEWAY OF INDIA, MUMBAI
Considered to be one of the unique landmarks of Mumbai, the gateway of India is located 2.5km from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal at the tip of Apollo Bunder, overlooking the Mumbai Harbour. This colossal structure was designed and constructed in the year 1924. The design was proposed by the British Architect George Wittet.
It is believed that when King George V and Queen Mary visited India and entered through this place, they were only to see the cardboard model of the structure. This was due to the reclamation of Apollo Bunder’s land happening between 1915 – 1919. After that the foundation of the structure was completed in 1920 and the structure came to use after four years in 1924. The last British ship that left the country from Gateway of India was in 1947 which was marked in history.
The arch of Triumph was built as a symbol to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai (Bombay) in the year 1911. The first foundation of the arch was laid in December 1913, by the Governor of Bombay, Sir George Sydenham Clarke. The construction of the structure was initiated in May 1920 and was completed and inaugurated in December 1924. The arch structure is believed to be adapted from the style of Arc de Triomphe, Paris. The cost of the arch alone constituted about 21 lakhs, which was wholly borne by the Indian Government.
The British Architect who designed the structure, helped popularize the combined style of Gothic – like flamboyance with Muslim – Indian architectural features of Indo – Saracenic style. He also designed a few important buildings along with Gateway of India, like Prince of Wales Museum, the King Edward Memorial hospital and the Institute of Science.
The Main structure consists of a central arch with a height measuring 26m. The structure also has evidences of Muslim and Gujarati styles of Architecture. It also has a central dome of about 48ft diameter at a height of 83ft. The materials used are yellow basalt and indissoluble concrete. The façade consists of intricate lattice works and letterings inscribed on them. The structures lead to the Arabian sea behind with a few steps connecting the structure and the sea. It was a place with a sense of arrival and departures used by the foreigners who entered the country in the ancient times.
Currently it serves as a famous tourist along with other landmarks situated in the closest proximity. With the Taj Mahal hotel, this spot has become one of the favourite tourist places for the public. During special occasions the structure is beautifully decorated with lights and it is a delight to visit at night hours. The monument is surrounded by another important tourist spot, Marine drive which is facing the vast Arabian sea.
When a landmark or any important structures reflects the architectural style of a city, people get a clear image of the cultural aspect and build a strong image of it. Mumbai (Bombay) which served as an important place for both architectural and cultural development of the country evidenced various changes in its skyline.
Understanding the concept and style of these important landmarks makes it easier to understand the overall image of the city. It can be applied in every urban scape in order to develop a stronger mental image as well as to understand the cultural aspects of the city.