Today, on our return from Mathura where we had gone for Holi celebrations, we (myself and friends) had a day to spend in Delhi. Though I have visited New Delhi several times, mostly for business meetings, I haven’t had the chance to see around the landmarks. I decided to address that today.
Our first stop was the “India Gate“. Located astride the Rajpath, this is a war memorial in the honour to the 70,000 soldiers of (British) Indian Army who died in the First world war.
Below the word INDIA, in capital letters, is inscribed:
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
Following the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1972, a new structure Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of the immortal soldier) which was a black marble plinth with a reversed rifle, capped by a war helmet was built beneath the archway.
The next landmark we went to was Raisana Hill, which is often used as a metonym for the seat of the Government of India. The area includes Rashtrapati Bhavan, Offices of the Prime Minister of India, Secretariat building and other ministries. is under heavy-security cover all the time, and visitors are allowed only to a designated area in between the south and the north block; unattended vehicle parking is not allowed.
Update 2018: When I went to Raisana Hill today, I never imagined a year-and-half later, I will get an opportunity to be invited to meet Hon’ble President of India and get a guided tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (my blog post).
Our next visit, one closer to my heart, was to Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Visiting the place, I felt peaceful and it was a moving moment – I never expected it to be one. Reading the words “hey ram” inscribed on Gandhiji’s memorial, spontaneously my lips were uttering ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’. I am normally not this emotional, but this man was unlike any other. It is surprising how the teachings of Gandhiji are relevant in today’s polarised world of politics more than ever. May his teachings and blessings inspire each one of us across the world to “be the change we want to see”.
Update 2019: Two years later, I got a chance to visit Gandhiji’s residence, the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat (my blog post).
The last landmark, before it got dark was the famous Red Fort, from where the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation every year on the Independence Day of India – August 15th. Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the construction of the Red Fort on 12 May 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Its design is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, who also constructed the Taj Mahal.
Though short, this was a satisfying tour of Delhi for me, I have many more landmarks to visit, they have to wait for another day.
Update 2018: A year later, I got another chance to visit Delhi and this time I had a Delhi’ite (my cousin brother) with me as my guide who took me to many more landmarks of the city.