I’d heard from a friend that it’s best to visit India Gate in the evening or at night (’cause that’s when it’s lit af 😀 ) And so I decided to go around five or six in the evening, and it was worth every bit the appreciation!
I got down at the Central Secretariat metro station and decided to walk from there, as it is just 2 km or so. As we stepped out of the metro station, we got to know a tourism fest was going on (Paryatan Parv) and hence, the road leading up to India Gate (Rajpath Marg) was barricaded off. We decided to go and have a look. The fest was amazing! It had stalls representing all the 29 states of India (I don’t remember if the union terretories had separate stalls too). There was food and clothes and jewellery and paintings and handicraft and what not! Also, there were some 8 or 9 stalls by NASVI (National Aassociation of street vendors of India), and so you could find just about any yummy Indian street food there! There were tikkis, pani poori, vada pav, chaat, samosa, momos, and so on. We went to every single stall, though we couldn’t actually eat or buy something from every one. There were also folk performances going on. There was a bhangra troupe, people performing human pyramid gymnastics, Rajasthani folk music, Nukkad natak (street plays), etc.
We spent around two hours there before finally moving towards India Gate. As we approached the 96 years old monument, we could feel the effect of that ambience beginning to work its magic. It is so majestic and mesmerising, standing there for almost a century now, I bet it always has that effect on everybody who comes there. The India Gate was originally called All India War Memorial, and was built in 1921 to commemorate the soldiers of Indian Army martyred in World War I and the Afghan wars.
INDIA GATE, NEW DELHI, INDIA
Moving further closer, you can see the Amar Jawan Jyoti (the eternal flame), which was added in 1971 in memory of the martyrs of Indo-Pak war of December 1971. It serves as India’s tomb of the unknown soldier. There is a rifle and a soldier’s helmet placed on the tomb. There are Army personnel guarding the area at all times, and one soldier stands next to the Amar Jawan Jyoti, head bowed and weapon down, in respect. Luckily, we got to see soldiers changing shifts to stand next to the Jyoti. The way they march towards it and salute it, fills you with a sense of pride, awe and inspiration. In fact, I couldn’t help standing there, in attention, gazing at the towering monument and the flame that burns underneath it, feeling all the more respect and gratitude for our soldiers.
The names of the soldiers in whose memory India Gate was built are inscribed on its walls and if you look closely you can see this written on top of it:
“TO THE DEAD OF THE INDIAN ARMIES WHO FELL AND ARE HONOURED IN FRANCE AND FLANDERS MESOPOTAMIA AND PERSIA EAST AFRICA GALLIPOLI AND ELSEWHERE IN THE NEAR AND THE FAR-EAST AND IN SACRED MEMORY ALSO OF THOSE WHOSE NAMES ARE HERE RECORDED AND WHO FELL IN INDIA OR THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER AND DURING THE THIRD AFGHAN WAR”
(Statutory warning: Trying to read this in one go can give you some serious strain in your neck!)
It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to explore the rest of Delhi now!