One of our readers went out on a walk through Mumbai and this is what he found…
Mumbai is a city of restraint and excesses. It is a city of dreams and of nightmares, of truth and of dare. Every nook and corner of the city tells a hundred stories.
The Hutatma Chowk derives its present name from an incident in 1960 when a peaceful protest march by the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti (United Maharashtra Committee) was fired upon by the police resulting in 105 deaths. The incident was part of ongoing struggles of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, amongst others, for the creation of the state of Maharashtra. The shooting proved to be a major impetus for the creation of Maharashtra on May 1, 1960.
Like the Shivaji statue opposite the Gateway of India, this Soviet-style concrete statue next to the Flora Fountain at Hutatma Chowk was intentionally placed to ruin a view of a famous colonial landmark.
Gateway of India: Built in the 20th century, this bold basalt arch of colonial triumph faces out to Mumbai Harbour from the tip of Apollo Bunder. Incorporating Islamic styles of 16th-century Gujarat, it was built to commemorate the 1911 royal visit of King George V, but wasn’t completed until 1924. Ironically, the British builders of the gateway used it just 24 years later to parade the last British regiment as India marched towards Independence.
This place, these days, is a favourite gathering spot for locals and tourists alike. From giant-balloon sellers, photographers, vendors to sea gazers and youngsters clicking selfies, you can find them all.
Just opposite the Gateway of India lies the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The hotel’s original building was commissioned by Tata and first opened its doors to guests on 16 December, 1902.
The story goes like this: Jamshedji Tata decided to build this hotel after he was refused entry to one of the city’s grand hotels of the time, Watson’s Hotel, as it was restricted to “whites only”. But many suggest that the Taj was built at the urging of the then editor of The Times of India who felt a hotel “worthy of Bombay” was needed.
Rocked by Lashkar-e-Taiba attacks on November 26, 2008, the hotel’s roof was immensely damaged. It was witness to a three-day-long battle that left 31 people dead at the Taj. The less-damaged sections of the hotel and Tower hotel reopened on December 21, 2008. It took several months to rebuild the popular heritage section of the Taj.
The Marine Drive is perhaps where every Mumbaikar’s heart resides. Thronged by people in the morning as well as after sunset, this place may be found bustling with life even after midnight. People going on drives are a common sight at night as is the sight of young couples or a group of friends having a good time by the sea.
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