Jan 1, 2007

Mumbai: A city that lives in many centuries at the same time

Juhu Beach Sunset

Mumbai Sunset. Taken from Juhu Beach.
Mumbai gets eight straight months of sunny days followed by four months of monsoon rains (June - September)

Gateway of India Mumbai

This picture shows Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - India's first luxury hotel. The following is the same hotel at night.

There are stories about how the hotel is oriented. To understand its orientation, it is important to know about Gateway of India.

The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, prior to the Darbar in Delhi in December 1911. The foundation stone was laid on March 31, 1911 by the Governor of Bombay, with George Wittet's final design sanctioned in August 1914. Between 1915 and 1919 work proceeded on reclamations at Apollo Bunder for the land on which the gateway and the new sea wall would be built. The foundations were completed in 1920, and construction was finished in 1924. The Gateway was opened on December 4, 1924 by the Viceroy, the Earl of Reading.

The last British troops to leave India, the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the gate in a ceremony on February 28, 1948.

Now about the orientation of the Taj Hotel.

The side of the hotel seen from the harbor is actually it's rear. The front faces away to the west. There is a widespread misconception that the architects' building plans were confused by the builder so that he built it facing away from the harbor. However, this is false, as the hotel was deliberately built facing inland rather than to the harbor. This was probably a deliberate snub to the English king by Jamshetji Tata due to nationalist feelings. Over the last five decades, the old front is not longer being used for access, is closed off, and access is now from the seaside former rear. So the Hotel entrance is facing away from Gateway of India.

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