India Gate - Memorial to the Indian Soldier
India Gate stands tall among the many monuments that are scattered around Delhi. It is a National Monument that makes all Indians proud. India Gate was designed by Lutyens, the architect of New Delhi. During the British Rule, this monument was called the All India War Memorial and was meant to glorify the supreme sacrifice made by Indian and British Soldiers in various places during World War I. The huge contribution of Indian soldiers in the British Army in both the World Wars is well known and it is heart-warming to see that it has been acknowledged and glorified by the erstwhile rulers of undivided India.
Built in the style of the Constantine Arch in Rome or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, this monument appears more like a victory arch rather than a war memorial. But a War Memorial it certainly is with the inscription of around 13000 soldiers that lost their lives and commemorating around 90000 soldiers who died in various battles of World War I. India Gate is the first gate monument of Delhi built by using buff colored sandstone. It is 160 feet tall with the arch being 136 feet on the outside and 87.5 feet on the inside. The foundation stone of India gate was laid by Lord Connaught in 1921 after which it took ten years for the monument to be completed. The inauguration ceremony was conducted in the presence of the Viceroy of India Lord Irwin exactly ten years after the foundation was laid in 1931.
Now there is also an Eternal Flame for the Unknown Soldier or Amar Jawan Jyoti under the arch of the India Gate along with a downturned rifle. This is in memory of the Indian Soldiers who lost their life in wars after India got Independence. The Amar Jawan Jyoti came into existence after the War with Pakistan in 1971.
India Gate is a true symbol of India and could be easily called the most visited tourist spot in the city of Delhi. The lawns and gardens surrounding India Gate are favorite spots for picnics as also the canal that runs alongside where one can enjoy a relaxing boat ride, are flush with residents of Delhi and tourists all year round especially on holidays.
History of India Gate
India Gate was built by the British as a war Memorial. It was designed by Edwin Lutyens the architect of New Delhi, the capital of India under the British since 1921. It was meant to be a monument that would stand the test of time and would get the admiration and respect of all who cast their eyes on it.
The inspiration behind the design of India gate clearly came from the Constantine Arch in Rome and the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The monument is about 160 feet tall and has a high domed arch. It is made of fawn colored sandstone. The base is made of red sandstone acquired from Bharatpur. The walls are inscribed with names of more than 13000 soldiers who lost their lives in various battles that were fought in different places of the world during World War I. The memorial is however dedicated to all the 90000 soldiers who fought for the British Army during the war and made the supreme sacrifice with their life.
The foundation stone of this edifice was laid by Lord Connaught in February 1921 and it was dedicated to undivided India in February 1931 by the Viceroy, Lord Irwin as All India War Memorial.
Situated at the eastern end of Rajpath in Central Delhi is the 42 m high stone arch of victory, renowned as the India Gate. Formally known as the All India War Memorial previously, the foundation stone of this magnanimous structure was laid by the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and dedicated to the nation in 1931 by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin.
Amar Jawan Jyoti is an addition made to the monument after the India-Pakistan War of 1971. This is a tribute to the Unknown Soldier who guards our frontier and sacrifices his life so that we can be free.
The most important event that takes place at India Gate is the Republic day Parade that is witnessed by the President, Prime Minister along with his Cabinet and other ministers, State Guests, dignitaries from other countries who have been specially invited to see this grand spectacle, government officials, Chiefs of the three Armed Forces and also common citizens of India.
Republic Day Parade
To commemorate the day India became a Democratic Republic on 26th January 1950, Republic day is celebrated every year on this day. It is a public holiday and is publicly celebrated. The celebrations begin at India Gate in the morning. In the early hours of the morning the President is driven with his cavalcade and the Chief State Guest to India Gate where they pay homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti and lay wreaths of flowers. It is only after the national anthem and the flag hoisting does the grand Republic Day parade starts showcasing the strength of our Armed Forces and new war weapons. There are floats of different states showing their culture, the advances they have made in science and technology. These are followed by folk dances and other group performances by school children.
The parade passes the India Gate monument and goes via Janpath to Connaught Place and ends at the Red Fort. At the end of the parade at India Gate there is an air show with aircrafts of the Air Force and ends with hundreds of balloons going up in the sky above India Gate.
The Breathtaking View of India Gate
India Gate always presents a grand breathtaking view from the top of the Raisina Hill or when driving down from the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Rajpath. The first sight of India Gate is always awe inspiring irrespective from which road you come towards India Gate. Its design, size and location and most importantly the reason for its being, all inspire respect in the hearts of all and a feeling of patriotism in the hearts of Indians.
The lawns, gardens and large expanses of open space with lots of street food and ice cream carts attract many to relax and enjoy evenings with their loved ones. On holidays many people enjoy picnics and children enjoy rides in the children’s park.
Canopy near India Gate
Quite near the main India gate monument is an empty canopy made of the same beige sandstone. This was also designed by Lutyens and held the statue of King George V in his regal coronation robes. The statue has been removed from the canopy and placed in the Coronation Park which also holds other similar statues of the British.
The Design of the Canopy
Standing behind the gate is an empty canopy made out of sandstone, also designed by Lutyens, and inspired by a sixth-century pavilion from Mahabalipuram. In recent years rumours of placing a statue of Mohandas Gandhi or another national hero have circulated, but as of September 2013 no plans have been made to do such a thing.
Lutyens used four Delhi Order columns to support the domed canopy and its chhajja. The Delhi Order, which he had devised while designing Rashtrapati Bhavan, was his own new order of classical architecture, with small bells hanging from the capitals of the columns.
Amar Jawan Jyoti
Amar Jawan Jyoti has been added to the India Gate monument long after Independence. Amar Jawan Jyoti or the Eternal Flame for the Unknown Soldier
Amar Jawan Jyoti was added to the India Gate monument after the Indo Pak war of 1971 which India had won at the expense of the lives of numerous soldiers. There is a black marble pedestal on which stands an inverted army rifle on which is placed a soldier’s helmet. An eternal flame also burns there which is in memory of the unknown soldier who guards our frontiers and because of the sacrifice of whom we are able to enjoy our freedom.
It is customary for all visiting Heads of States and other important visitors to Delhi to visit here and place a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. The Republic Day celebrations every year also commence after the incumbent Prime Minister pays homage at the Eternal flame and lays a wreath here. The practice was started by Indira Gandhi on the Republic Day of 1973 and continues till date.
Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Delhi is from October through March. Since the summer is long and very hot, it is advisable to stay away from April to July. July brings the welcome showers and cools the place a little but not enough.
For Delhiites, India Gate is the place to be all round the year. Even in the hot summer months, the lawns of India Gate are filled with people enjoying themselves with family and friends at night when the monument is highlighted with floodlights and strobes. When the summer is gone, India Gate and the areas surrounding it are filled with visitors and children even during the day.
How to Reach
Delhi as a tourist destination is easy to reach. The Indira Gandhi International Airport is an ultra modern airport with world class facilities. From the airport or from any hotel, or railway station, India Gate is accessible by using public transport such as bus, metro rail, taxi, autorikshaw etc.
The nearest metro station on the Yellow line is the Central Secretariat station from where you can even walk or take an autorikshaw.
Delhi is well connected by bus and metro rail. It is best to use metered taxis or taxis from registered companies that can be called on phone.
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