Saturday, September 26, 2009

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India Gate or as it was formerly known, The All India War Memorial was built by the British to commemorate over 1,00000 fallen soldiers of Indian Army, who had laid down their lives in World War I and in the Afghan wars.

The foundation stone of the India Gate was laid on 10th February 1921 by the then Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert. India Gate was finally inaugurated a decade later in 1931, by the then Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin.

This magnificent 42 meter tall monument was designed by none other than the famous British architect, Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens.

On the top of the monument, following is written in bold letters:

To the dead of the Indian armies who fell honored 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 recorded and who fell in India or the north-west frontier and during the Third Afghan War.

While the names of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I and Afghan Wars, is inscribed on the walls.

In 1971, Amar Jawan Jyoti (The Flame of the immortal warrior) was added along side the tomb of Unknown Soldier. The shrine itself is a black marble cenotaph with a rifle placed on its barrel, crested by a soldier’s helmet. Each face of the cenotaph has inscribed in gold the words “Amar Jawan” (Immortal Warrior). The cenotaph is placed on an edifice, which has on its four corners four flames that are perpetually kept alive.

Sadly today it is seen by many not as a monument honoring the brave soldiers of Indian Army, but as a place to spend time. In evenings, the lawns adjacent to India Gate are thronged by tourists and Delhiites, who come not for solace but to kill spare time and to view the India Gate in all its glory while it is illuminated by spot lights, all this while not understanding the reasons behind its creation.

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