India Gate was constructed as a war memorial in the memory of 90,00 soldiers who laid down their lives during world war I. The foundation stone was laid by HRH the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and the monument was dedicated to the nation 10 years later by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin.
Another additional 13,516 names engraved on the arch and foundations form a separate memorial to the British and Indian soldiers killed on the North-West Frontier in the Afghan War of 1919. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later after India had said goodbye to its imperial rulers. It is in the form of a flame that burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who perished in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.
Tour of Lutyens’ Delhi just has to kick off with the stately India Gate at the east end of the broad Janpath (earlier Kingsway) that leads to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge cornice, beneath which are inscribed Imperial suns. Above on both sides is inscribed INDIA, flanked by MCM and to the right, XIX. The shallow domed bowl at the top was intended to be filled with burning oil on anniversaries but this is rarely done.
The Breathtaking View of India Gate
Nowadays, if you drive down the smooth wide expanse of Rajpath on a midsummer night, you might be excused for assuming that a huge glittering carnival is in progress at India Gate. The entire boulevard up to the monument is lined with cars, scooters, motorcycles and what-have-you. In fact all of Delhi seems to have converged to the emerald lawns of India Gate. The air is thick with chatter, laughter and the cries of assorted vendors peddling their wares. You can snack on anything from fruit chaat (fruit salad with hot, spicy dressing), through bhelpuri (a snack of puffed rice, spices and hot, sweet and sour chutney), chana jor garam (spicy chickpeas), dal ka pakodas (fried lentil-flour dumplings), potato chips to ice cream, candy floss and aerated drinks.
A Perfect Place For A Halt
Most of the revellers come equipped with balls, Frisbees or just a pack of playing cards. But India Gate has lots to offer in the name of entertainment. You can watch monkeys perform, enjoy a camel ride, blow soap bubbles all over the lawns, play with balloons and even get your insides turned inside out on a ferris wheel.
But if you ask us, the best thing to do is to loll on the cool lawns, lick a bar of ice candy and watch the floodlit arch and the fountains nearby that seem magically lit up with coloured lights.
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