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Mumbai Monuments and Festival

Monuments of Mumbai

Gateway of India

It is only extra-ordinary things that excite human beings but Gateway of India not only excites but also astounds the most discerning eye. The most famous monument, it is an architectural marvel that scores over other buldings inMonuments and Festivals Mumbai. Having advantages of both location and archtitectural construction, it shines every morning with morning sun of Mumbai. There is somethig magial about Gateway of India that attracts tourists in hordes. Words fail to describe and picture postcards fail to capture the exact beauty of the monument.

Pride of Mumbai, the Gateway of India occupies a special place in the hearts of Mumbaikars. It is to them what Red Fort is to Delhiites. Locale of many hindi movies, people flock to the place especially in the evening to watch bashful play of waves and feed pigeons. Besides being one of the important landmarks in the city, it is also base camp from where people start towards Elephanta island in motorboats.

Gateway of India was built to welcome King George V and Queen Marry in a style. The foundation stone was laid on March 31, 1911 and it took over 13 years to complete the ambitious project. To be precise, the construction was completed in December 4, 1924.

Reflecting Indo-sarcenic style, the Gateway was built George witte, who was inspired from the architecture in Gujarat. The Gateway is built from yellow Kharodi basalt and reinforced concrete. The central dome is 48 feet in diameter and 83 feet above ground at its highest point. The cost of the construction was borne mainly by the Government.

Rajabai Clock Tower
Next to the High Court, the Venetian -Gothic University has a Gothic clock tower 260 feet high that is curiously adorned with oriental figures. In the old days it used to play Rule Britannia, God Save the King and a Handel Symphony among sixteen tunes that changed four times a day; now the repertoire is limited to the wafting chimes of the Big Ben on the quarter hour.

The Rajabai Clock Tower is named after the mother of a 19th century stockbroker, who contributed towards its Monuments and Festivalsconstruction; it has a spiral staircase , which is unfortunately closed to the visitors after several unhappy citizens hurled themselves from the top.

Under the clock tower is the magnificent University Library, with what are undoubtedly some of the most exquisite stained glass windows in Asia. These have recently been treated by British conservationists and restored to their pristine glory. Well worth a look.

University Building
Next to the High Court on Bhaurao Patil Road, the Venetian Gothic Bombay University has a Gothic clock tower 260 feet high, that is curiously adorned with oriental figures. In the old days it used to play Rule Britannia, God Save the king, Auld Lang Syne and a Handel symphony among 16 tunes that changed four times a day; now the repertoire is restricted to wafting chimes of the big Ben on the quarter hour.

Flora Fountain
This is the very heart of Mumbai, circumscribed by stately colonial buildings that stand like proud old sentinels of a bygone era. Flora is the Roman Goddess of Flowers, her pretty alabaster face continually assaulted by grime and pollution. Next to her are a pair of torch bearing stone patriots that rise from the Martyrs Memorial nearby. Flora Fountain is now called Hutatma Chowk or Martyr's Square to honour those who died in the tumultuous birth of Maharashtra State. All around the square sit Mumbai's infamous vendors selling just about everything under the blazing tropical sun -- from cheap nylon saris and ballpoint pens to herbal remedies and sexshop gewgaws. Tooting horns and traffic complete the chaotic picture, but through it all Flora manages to retain her serene composure.

Worli Fort
Worli Fort is an ancient British fort perched on a hilltop at the place of Worli in Mumbai. The fort has been often mis-interpreted as being built by Portuguese. The fort was built by British to overlook the enemy and pirate ships in the nearby sea. The fort was built around 1675 A.D. and at the time when Mumbai city was a small agglomerate of seven islands. The islands were connected over years and the region stands as an integral part of Mumbai today.

Worli lies to the north of Mumbai. Reaching Worli Fort is quite arduous due to poor condition of the road leading to the fort. The fort is located on the peninsular landmass of the Worli area and close to the sea. The condition of fort is miserable. The historical monument that carries with it memories of the past has been abandoned. The cry for help by Worli Fort has been suppressed for years, the bell of the fort has not ringed and a good time has passed now.

The Worli region, compared to Worli Fort is a quite developed place and an important city hub. The other attractions in the vicinity include the mosque named Haji Ali Dargah and an old fishing community.

The bus station at Prabhadevi is nearest to Worli Fort. The place is linked to the central landmass via roads.

The nearest railway station is the Parel Railway Station which lies east of Worli Fort.

Elephanta Caves
A pleasant half an hour motor-boat ride from the hustle and bustle of city life brings one to the vicinities of the famous Elephanta caves located in the quiet island by the same name. This island is home to a series of seven magnificient rock cut caves which dates from the 4th-9th centuries A.D. These caves are situated at a height of about 76metres above sea-level. The most impressive of these caves has a 40 metre square main hall with two wide columnades. At the western end of the hall, there is a lingam shrine which stands guarded by stone doorkeepers leaning on dwarfs. The lingam symbolic of lord Siva is still worshipped by devotees during festivals. One of the most striking features of this cave is the 6m high Maheshmurti, the three headed bust of lord Siva depicting his three facets-creator, destroyer and protector. Besides, the cave contains a series of nine massive sculptured panels which show various incidents in the life of lord Siva and other dramatic moments from Hindu mythology. These are chiselled with immense artistic finesse.

Mumbai has had the privilege of being artistically and affectionately moulded in the hands of the various empires it has been under. One of the prime elements of Mumbai’s exceptional diversity is the various historical architectural styles on display at different locations of the city. Magnificent structures stand rock-steady centuries after they’d been constructed and represent a multitude of architectural designs. Several historical domains like the Magadha and Mauryan Empires from the third century BC to the Portuguese and British realms in the colonial periods have recognised Mumbai’s outstanding potential and groomed and fostered it with a certain fondness.

Today, people from all over the globe come visiting Mumbai to catch a glimpse of its historical monuments that proudly display a range of admirable ancient architectures. From pure Indian architectural styles with finely intricate carvings to Indo-European architecture with strong Islamic influences, Indo-Sarcenic style with Gujarati influences, early English Gothic style and a combination of Venetian and English gothic styles can be seen in the historical landmarks of Mumbai.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus/Mumbai Railway Station)
At the site of the Koli's original temple to Mumba Devi now stands Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus - one of Mumbai's most prominent buildings and architecturally

One of the finest railway stations in the world. It is built in a style that combines Gothic and Indian influences. It was completed in 1885. Designed by F.W. Stevens the construction of the building commenced in 1878. This Italian gothic building was once called Victoria Terminus and is still largely popular by the name. The construction has a frontage of over 1,500 feet.

The administrative offices form three sides of a rectangle enclosing an ornamental garden, the entrance gate guarded by a massive stone Lion and Tiger. The most prominent feature of this building is the high 160 feet dome crowning the centre. On top of the giant dome is the figure of a woman with a torch held aloft to symbolise progress.

Mumbai's principal landmark, the Gateway of India is a huge archway on the ocean’s edge at Apollo Bunder. It is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. This famous monument was built to commemorate the visit of the first ever British Monarch, King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

The foundation stone was laid down by the then Governor of Bombay (Mumbai) on March 31st 1913. The archway is 26 meters high and joined with four turrets and intricate lattice work carved on stones. The arch alone was built at the cost of Rs 21 lakhs. It was built in Indo-Sarcenic style, though some influence of Gujarati style is also evident in its architecture. This majestic structure was designed by the Scottish architect George Wittet and is a hybrid of the Arc de Triomphe of Paris.

Sion Hillock Fort: It was erected by the British Governor of Bombay Gerard Aungier. The fort is situated a few metres from Sion railway station. The fort was raised between 1669 and 1677. At the base of the fort The Archeological Survey of India has its branch office. The fort is overlooking the salt pans in the Thane creeks that create a magnificent view of the surroundings.

Elephanta Caves: The 6th century old Elephanta Cave temples are located on an island along Mumbai’s eastern shore. The temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The caves contain some great masterpieces of Indian sculptures. Originally the place was called Gharapuri or Fort City but was renamed as Elephanta by the Portuguese. The Elephanta Caves have been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and can be reached by boats from the Gateway of India.

The Kanheri Caves: The word Kanheri has been derived from the Sanskrit word Krishnagiri. These caves date back to the period between the 1st century BC and 9th century AD.

Located at a distance of 45 kms from central Mumbai and 10 kms from the Borivali railway station, the Kanheri Caves were basically meant for the Buddhist conglomeration worship. The highest cave is situated at a height of 1500 feet above the sea level.

All the way through the journey through the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a natural serenity of emerald green escorts the visitors.

Mumbai Fort: The area north of Colaba is known as Mumbai Fort, since the old British fort was once located here. Here, you can see some impressive buildings from Mumbai's golden period. St. John's church, dedicated to the soldiers, who laid down their lives in the Sindh campaign of 1838, and the first Afghan war of 1843, is also a worth visiting place.

The Vasai Fort: In the ancient times, the Vasai Fort was known as the Bassein Fort. It was the headquarters of the Portuguese from 1534 AD to 1739 AD.

Today, only some parts of the fort have been well preserved with the remaining only in ruins. There are three chapels in the fort and the southernmost of these three has a well preserved barrel vaulted ceiling.

Mumbai High court: The Bombay High Court is one of the oldest High Courts in the country. Its attractive construction in early English Gothic style, situated next to the Oval Ground is well worth a visit for its impressive architecture. It was designed by Colonel J.A.Fuller, R.E. and was completed at a cost of Rs 16, 44,528. Its height to the east is 90 feet and the central feature is 178.5 feet in height. Statues representing Justice and Mercy surmount the Central structure.

General Post Office (GPO): This is a fine example of Indo-European architecture which was designed by John Begg and supervised by George Wittet. Its superb architecture is inspired by the Islamic domes of the Gol Gumbaj. The construction was completed in 1911. It has several arches, domes and minarets that give a fantastic look to the GPO. The post office has a lofty three storied rotunda inside, which leads to its various departments.

Rajabai Clock Tower: Rajabai Clock tower, situated at the gardens of the Bombay University building rises above the portion of the library section. The tower was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect. Consisting of five elaborately decorated stories the tower is 280 ft in height. The top of the cupola is ornamented with sixteen statues depicting various Indian castes. The tower is a combination of Venetian and English gothic styles that offer a magnificent look to the structure.

Fairs & Festivals of Mumbai

Ganesh Chaturthi is the biggest festival in Mumbai. It is celebrated with great grandeur for 11 days in the months of October or November. Hindu God Ganesh is worshipped in this festival.

Navratri is also celebrated with great fun and enthusiasm in Mumbai. Dandiya Raas is performed with sticks on the tunes of the thundering drums. Traditionally clad people of all ages take part in the dance with greatest fervour. These days, the traditional instruments like the dhol and sehnai are taken over by remix songs.

Diwali is also celebrated with colourful and dazzling light all over the city like any other city in India. This Hindu festival is celebrated on the moonless night of November every year. The best area to visit in this festival is Marine Drive that shines bright in the light of the innumerable firecrackers. The earthen lamps are floated on the waters at the Banganaga tank in a traditional way.

Mumbai International Film Festival is organized once in every two years. Different film producers and directors throng to Mumbai for the festival. Mumbaites and visitors from outside especially the film buffs can enjoy good time during this festival. Short, documentary and animation films are screened at the Nehru Auditorium in the month of February.

Elephanta Festival is organized at Elephanta islands, which is so near to Mumbai. It is organised in the month of February. Renowned dancers and musicians perform outside the caves of Elephanta under the starry sky in front of the selected and appreciative audience. Special launch services and catering arrangements are also provided for visitors.

Kala Ghoda Festival

Kala Ghoda Festival is the most sought-after fair for the lovers of arts and crafts. In the Bollywood city of India, the venue for the event is made near the renowned Jehangir Art Gallery. The fair owes its name to Kala Ghoda, a district in South Mumbai that literally means Black Horse. This arts festival is actually a mélange, where artists from the fields of music, dance, art, craft, theatre, film, etc present a vibrant cultural show.

From the month of November to January, Kala Ghoda Fair is held on every Sunday. In 1988, the Kala Ghoda Association was founded, with the aim to improvise the infrastructure of the region and making it known as the art district of Bombay. Infact, the association anticipated to be a catalyst for the resurgence of art and crafts in the metropolis. Check out the book shops, music shops, magic shows, puppet shows or know your future by a parrot.

During the festive season, the entire region of Kala Ghoda turns into a pedestrian square, where you can indulge in the artistic paintings displayed by the painters, amazing sculptures by potters, tattoo your hands with mehendi or adorn your arms with beautiful bangles. Moreover, you can even know the history about different art forms, from masters of the art. As dusk falls, bright illumination beautifies the whole atmosphere, along with the music and dance concerts.

For such activities, the venue is generally made by National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), David Sasson Library Garden and Jehangir Art Gallery. Max Muller Bhavan hosts the audience for award winning Indian films. Creativity and ingenuity of the artists dominate the entire area. Subsequent to all the inspired activities, savor the local food and various cuisines that feed the exotic experience of Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.