The All India War Memorial, popularly known as the India Gate, is located along the Rajpath in New Delhi. The imposing structure of India Gate is an awe-inspiring sight and is often compared to the Arch de Triomphe in France, the Gateway of India in Mumbai and the Arch of Constantine in Rome. This 42-meter tall historical structure was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is one of the largest war memorials in the country. India Gate is also famous for hosting the Republic Day Parade every year.
Dedicated to 82,000 Indian and British soldiers who died during the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War, this monument has the names of 13,300 servicemen inscribed on its surface. The foundation stone of this structure was laid down in the year 1921, and the final building was unveiled in the year 1931 by the Indian Viceroy Lord Irwin. The premises of India Gate also houses the Amar Jawan Jyoti, which is a kindled structure right underneath the archway. Built in 1971 post the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Amar Jawan Jyoti symbolises the eternal, immortal soldiers of India. Owing to its rich historical background and astonishing architecture, India Gate has become one of the most popular picnic spots in the city.
The construction of the India Gate started in the year 1921, and it was a part of the British initiative to build graves and memorials for all the Indian and British soldiers who represented the British Empire in the First World War. The Duke of Connaught laid the foundation stone of the war memorial on 10th February 1921, and the memorial was finally inaugurated by Lord Irwin, India's Viceroy on 12th February 1931. It was dedicated to all the soldiers who laid their lives during the war so that the future generations would remember them for the noble sacrifice they made for the love of their country.
Below the India Gate, lies a small shrine-like structure made up of black marble, which always has a fire burning in it. This is known as the Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier. The words "Aman Jawan Jyoti" are inscribed on all four sides of the structure. It was built after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and has since then been known as India's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Sir Edwin Lutyens, one of the finest war memorial designers, drafted the design for the All India War memorial in New Delhi. Perched on the centre of a hexagonal complex with a diameter of 625 metres, India Gate covers a total area of 3,60,000 metres square. It is 42 metres tall and has a width of 9.1 metres. It stands on a low base red stone from Bharatpur and then rises in stages. There is a shallow dome-shaped bowl on the top of the India Gate which is rarely filled with burning oil on special occasions. The India Gate is a secular memorial, leaving aside religious and cultural sentiments. Lutyen used the universal architectural style free of religious ornamentation. It has also been called as the remake of Arch de Triomphe since it resembles the structure. Also, right behind the spectacular India Gate, around 150 metres away, is a canopy like structure which was also built by Edwin Lutyens. It had a statue of Lord George V. but later it was removed.
On both the sides of the arch of India Gate, 'India' is inscribed in upper case with dates MCMXIV (1914) and MCMXIX (1919) on its either sides. Below the word 'India', in upper case letters, is inscribed: "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 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."
Amar Jawan Jyoti or the Flame of Immortal Soldier was constructed under the India Gate after the Indo-Pakistani war in the year 1971 to pay respect to all the soldiers who died in the war. The memorial was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi on 26th January 1972. It has a black cenotaph placed on the top of a marble pedestal. 'Amar Jawan' is scripted in gold on all the four sides of the cenotaph. On the top of the cenotaph, an inverted L1A1 self-loading rifle is placed with a helmet of a soldier. The marble pedestal is bound by four urns, one of which has a continuously burning flame. The memorial is guarded 24/7 by soldiers of Indian Army, Indian Navy and Air Force.
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Though India gate is breathtaking at absolutely any hour of the day, its magnificence is even more during the hours after sunset. Standing against the backdrop of the night sky, this structure rises from the soft glow of shimmering yellow lights. The Amar Jawan Jyoti compliments the sight beautifully and is a humbling reminder of the great sacrifices made by our soldiers. This destination is bubbling with people even during late night hours and there is a wonderful spirit of cheer in the atmosphere. You can enjoy a tranquil stroll along the Rajpath overlooking the India Gate before grabbing your favourite ice-cream and heading back home.
India Gate has quite a few things to do and spend some quality time outdoors. Some of these are:
1. Picnic - You can spend some quality time relaxing here with friends and family while enjoying a view of India Gate in the backdrop.
2. Early morning walk - An early morning walk on Rajpath towards the India Gate is a great way to start the day.
3. Click photos and selfies - This one goes without saying. You will even find photographers hovering around India Gate to click a picture and hand you the hard copy then and there!
4. Gorge on some delectable street food - There are many street vendors parked around India Gate. Relish chuskis and ice-creams on a warm sunny day and corn on the cob in monsoons.
5. Children's Park - The Children's' Park nearby can be a fun place for the kids.
India Gate is an essential part of the history of India. If you are keen to know more about World War I, you should head out to India Gate. It is also a treat for architecture lovers. Photography aficionados may find the memorial to be an amazing place.
Delhi witnesses extreme temperatures. While summers and winters are unbearable, monsoon restricts outdoor activities. But, favourable months to visit Delhi are February to April and August to November. India Gate can be explored anytime throughout the day. The night view is breathtaking with perfect lighting. India gate is decorated on Independence Day (August 15) or Republic Day (January 26) making it a visual delight.
The most comfortable option to reach India Gate is via metro. The nearest Metro Station is the Central Secretariat Metro Station, which falls on the Yellow Line. Other metro stations are Pragati Maidan, Race Course and Barakhamba. You can take an auto rickshaw or taxi from outside the metro station to reach India Gate. Alternatively, you can take the DTC bus from any point in the city. Buses going towards Patiala House also go towards India Gate.
Unfortunately, tourists are not allowed to take vehicles to the memorial. Therefore, an authorised car parking area is available for India Gate visitors near Shahjahan Road. It is around 600 metres away from the memorial.
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