India Gate, a memorial to known and unknown soldiers, New Delhi
India Gate, a memorial to known and unknown soldiers
Rajpath (Kingsway), New Delhi
This was Rajpath – once the Kingsway – one of the greatest ceremonial ways of the world. It was planned as an Imperial Champs Elysees – complete with India Gate, its own butter coloured Arc de Triomphe. But it was far wider, far greener, far more magnificent than anything comparable in Europe.
William Dalrymple, City of Djinns
India Gate (originally called the All India War Memorial), the icon of Delhi, stands at the eastern end of Rajpath (formerly Kingsway). India Gate is a memorial to 80,000+ soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War. It is also dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Of these 13,000+ names inscribed on the India Gate.
The India Gate stands 42 meters high and is inspired by the Arc-de-Triomphe in Paris. Near the top both its faces is inscribed with the legend INDIA, flanked by the Roman numerals MCMXIV (1914, left) and MCMXIX (1919, right).
Below it is the following inscription:
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
The India Gate is designed by Edwin Lutyens, the chief architect of New Delhi. Lutynes specialized in the design of war memorial and has designed 66 war memorial all over Europe.
The stupendous memorial, stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge moulding. The shallow domed bowl at the top was intended to be filled with burning oil on anniversaries but it is no longer in use.
The foundation stone of the India gate was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught in 1921. A decade later it (then known as All India War Memorial) was opened to public by Viceroy Lord Irwin.
In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation war, a small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth, with reversed rifle, capped by war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the soaring Memorial Archway.
This structure, called Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier. It has served as a cenotaph of unknown soldiers with the words “Amar Jawan” (“Immortal Soldier”) in golden letters written on all four sides. At the four corners of the platform eternal flames, which are kept perpetually alive.
Just east of the Amar Jawan Jyoti atr three towering flag staffs with the fluttering colours of the three wings of the Indian military (army, Navy and Air Force).
On Republic Day the Prime Minister along with the three chiefs of the armed forces pays tribute to the fallen soldiers before joining the Republic Day Parade.
About 150 meters east of the India Gate, on the junction of 6 roads, stands a 73 feet tall cupola. known as the Canopy, it was designed by Lutynes and was inspired by a sixth century pavilion in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
It once housed the 50 feet tall statue of Emperor George V, complete with , globus cruciger and scepter. The statue was shifted in 1960 to Coronation Park along with other Britisah Raj era statues, where they still stands to this day.
Since then the Canopy has been lying vacant. There are suggestions of placing a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, in the Canopy. Although the issue has been discussed in the Indian Parliament in 1981, but nothing has come out of it. The Canopy remains empty for over half a century.
The India Gate is surrounded by lush green lawn complete with water channels and fountains. The memorial is lit up during the night creating a grand spectacle.
Vehicles are prevented near the India Gate and the whole area resembles a fair ground complete with hawkers selling ice creams, bhel puri, potato chips, papri chats and all sorts of snacks.