India Gate is a war memorial located, near Rajpath in New Delhi. It was formerly called Kingsway. It is one of the most politically and historically significant places in Delhi and stands as a memorial to around 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in between 1914 and 1921 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and the third Anglo-Afghan War. The names of around 13,300 servicemen including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on the gate.
Today, the India Gate holds much significance not only as a tourist attraction but also a symbol of nationalism. On 26th January each year, the Republic Day parade commences from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s residence) and progresses past the India Gate.
The building of the India Gate was part of the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission (I.W.G.C), which was established in December 1917 under the British rule, mainly with the purpose of building war graves and memorials to soldiers who were killed in the First World War.
The foundation stone of this gate, which was then called the All India War Memorial, was laid on 10 February 1921 by the visiting Duke of Connaught during a ceremony attended by all the important officers of the British Indian Army. On the occasion, the viceroy is reported to have said, "The stirring tales of individual heroism, will live forever in the annals of this country", and that “the memorial which was a tribute to the memory of heroes, "known and unknown", would inspire future generations to endure hardships with similar fortitude and "no less valour".
Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed the India Gate, was a leading war memorial architect and was also a member of IWGC. He had also been the chief architect for the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi which is the office and official residence of the president of India. He worked on the establishment of the India Gate with the goal that it would be a secular memorial that is free of any religious association or cultural ornamentation.
The structure of India Gate is that of a triumphal arch, surrounded by beautiful lawns. The arch is 42 meters tall and 9.1 meters wide and situated in the middle of a hexagonal complex. The whole structure is made using yellow and red sandstone. It is often compared with the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Gateway of India in Mumbai, and the Arch of Constantine.
It was reported that Lutyens wanted the monument to be classical and completely Indian, and so refused to incorporate any Asian or foreign motifs.
About 150 meters towards the east of the India Gate, a canopy can be seen, which was built in 1936 as a tribute to former Emperor of India, King George V. There used to be a marble statue of George V, but it was removed due to opposition from some political parties after India’s independence and it is currently located in Delhi’s Coronation Park.
India Gate also houses Amar Jawan Jyoti, which is a small structure consisting of a marble pedestal with a cenotaph on its top. This cenotaph has the words ‘Amar Jawan’ written on all four sides in golden letters and also has a reversed rifle on it, capped by a soldier helmet. The structure is surrounded by flames fuelled by CNG on all the four sides, which are permanently burning.
Every evening, the India Gate is lit up with spotlights, making it one of the top tourist attractions to visit in Delhi during nights. People can visit this memorial to witness its beautiful architecture and magnificence.
The huge lawns surrounding the gate are a favourite spot for people in Delhi to enjoy basket picnics, play cricket or indulge in kite flying.
There is also a children’s Park located near the gate, which is a great place for families to spend some time with kids.
India Gate is located around 11 km away from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport and can be reached in 15-20 minutes by road or by Delhi metro via the magenta and violet lines.
Central Secretariat metro station is the closest and nearest station to India gate and it is at the yellow line and the violet line of metro railways linking to Badarpur. It is an important station in Delhi that visitors can easily use to travel anywhere and is located at a distance of about 3 kms or 1.9 miles from India Gate.
Other nearby attractions include:
Also, within a kilometer of India Gate, there is a popular restaurant called Andhra Bhavan, which is known for its lip-smacking traditional food, and is a must-try for first time visitors.
If you’re in Delhi, a visit to India gate and to click amazing pictures at this iconic landmark (with family, friends or even alone) deserves to be on your list.