India Gate: An experience, not just a photo op
When you think of India, the first two cities that come to mind are Delhi and Mumbai. And usually, the first stops at these cities are colossal arches of the cities – The India Gate and Gateway of India. In fact, we’ve all seen so many pictures of these two attractions that we might even consider avoiding them altogether.
On our last visit to Delhi, we were quite intrigued the India Gate. We were curious to find out what lay around the structure. We wanted to know what it would feel like to stand under this 42 metre monolith and gaze up at it.
So, on a warm Saturday evening, a metro and battery powered rikshaw ride later, we made it to India Gate. Flanked on all sides by open roads, the India Gate stood proudly in the centre in all its glory. Our rikshaw had dropped us some way off, so had to walk past roadside vendors and families that were idling away their Saturday evening to get to the gate. We reached the road that led to India Gate only to find out that we had missed the entry time by a mere ten minutes. The policeman at the Gate would not listen to any number or kind of pleas. We considered making a run for it, but decided against it.
Not to be brought down so easily, we decided to come back the next day. We made it sufficiently on time this time round. We picked up some snacks from the roadside vendors and started the walk up to the India gate. This road is Delhi’s own ceremonial boulevard. It leads down straight down to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Republic Day parade marches down this road every 26th of January. This parade is so grand, it draws throngs of locals on cold winter mornings.
The India Gate itself is a dedication to the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I in France, Mesopotamia, Persia East Africa and elsewhere in the far-east. It is modelled after or is a creative reworking of the French Arc de Triomphe. The Arc De Triomphe stands 45 metres tall, just a 3 metres taller than the India Gate. The India Gate, similar to the Arc De Triomphe, has a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under it. After the Bangladesh war of 1971, the Amar Jawan Jyoti which means Immortal Soldier’s Flame, was built under the gate for the unidentified soldiers of war. It consists of a revered rifle, topped by a war helmet with an eternal flame burning by its side.
There is a large artificial lake on one side that sends a cool breeze across the complex. We strolled alongside, watching the children play and tourists pose for pictures. One girl posed on a tree that hangs over the lake, and we had a quiet laugh imagining her falling into the murky waters.
Behind the India Gate is a Chatri, or umbrella, with nothing under it. There were several proposals, such as building a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, but nothing has come of it. Huge sunflowers speckle the garden here, standing tall in their own right in front of the India Gate.
After circling the complex, we moved nearer to the gate. As you come closer, you can see the names that are inscribed over it. The names of the soldiers, of cavalries, of infantries & regiments.
As the sun set, the lights came on around the complex, illuminating the India Gate in all its splendour. We couldn’t resist ourselves and clicked quite a few pictures. We even bought a six-hole bubble blower from the nearby vendor and joined the kids.
The India Gate was all that we expected and more. It holds a place of importance in every Indian’s mind. It is a centre for protests, with the most recent one being the violent protests after the Delhi Gang Rape. It is the locus for candlelight vigils and even World Cup celebrations.
It is the heart of Delhi and the place for all citizens for India to gather and join their hands as one, without borders or distinction. We could feel the spirit of India flow through the veins of the roads that surround the India Gate, leaving us with a sense of pride and valour. An evening well spent.
Guidetrip Delhi Tours: http://www.guidetrip.com/find-experiences?experiencelist=delhi