India Gate

Not to be confused with Gateway of India.
For the 2002 Malayalam film, see India Gate (film).
India Gate

India Gate
Used for those deceased 1914-1921
Established 10 February 1921
Unveiled 12 February 1931

28°36′46.31″N 77°13′45.5″E / 28.6128639°N 77.229306°E / 28.6128639; 77.229306Coordinates: 28°36′46.31″N 77°13′45.5″E / 28.6128639°N 77.229306°E / 28.6128639; 77.229306

India Gate (Delhi)

Designed by Edwin Lutyens

The India Gate, (originally called the All India War Memorial), is a war memorial located astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the ‘ceremonial axis’ of New Delhi, India, formerly called Kingsway. India Gate is a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,300 servicemen's names, including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on the gate.[1][2] The India Gate, even though a war memorial, evokes the architectural style of the triumphal arch like the Arch of Constantine, outside the Colosseum in Rome, and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[1]

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, since 1971 has served as India's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Armoured cars passing through India Gate in 1930s

The India Gate situated in Delhi,was part of the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC), which came into existence in December 1917 for building war graves and memorials to soldiers killed in the First World War [3] The foundation stone of the All-India War Memorial was laid on 10 February 1921, at 4:30 PM, by the visiting Duke of Connaught in a solemn soldierly ceremony attended by Officers and Men of the Indian Army, Imperial Service Troops, the Commander in Chief, and Chelmsford, the viceroy.[4] On the occasion, the viceroy said, "The stirring tales of individual heroism, will live for ever 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".[4]

The King, in his message, read out by the Duke said "On this spot, in the central vista of the Capital of India, there will stand a Memorial Archway, designed to keep" in the thoughts of future generations "the glorious sacrifice of the officers and men of the Indian Army who fought and fell". During the ceremony, the Deccan Horse, 3rd Sappers and Miners, 6th Jat Light Infantry, 34th Sikh Pioneers, 39th Garhwal Rifles, 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force), 117th Mahrattas, and 5th Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), were honoured with title of " Royal " in recognition of the distinguished services and gallantry of the Indian Army during the Great War".[4]

Ten years after the foundation stone laying ceremony, on February 12, 1931, the All India War Memorial was inaugurated by Viceroy Lord Irwin, who on the occasion said " those who after us shall look upon this monument may learn in pondering its purpose something of that sacrifice and service which the names upon its walls record." [1]

In the decade between the laying of foundation stone of the War memorial and its inauguration, the rail-line was shifted to run along the Yamuna river, and the New Delhi Railway Station was opened in 1926.[5][6]

The India gate, which is illuminated every evening, from 19:00 to 21:30, is a major tourist attraction. Motor cars, moved through India Gate, till it was closed to traffic. The Republic Day Parade starts from Rashtrapati Bhavan and passes around the India Gate.


India Gate from Rajpath, showing the curvature of the structure

The All-India War Memorial in New Delhi was designed by Edwin Lutyens, who was not only the main architect of New Delhi, but a leading designer of war memorials. He was a member of the IWGC, and one of Europe's foremost designers of war graves and memorials. He designed sixty-six war memorials in Europe, including the highly regarded Cenotaph, in London, in 1919, the first national war memorial erected after World War I, for which he was commissioned by David Lloyd George, the British prime minister.[3] All-India War Memorial in New Delhi, like the Cenotaph, in London, is secular memorial, free of religious and "culturally-specific iconography such as crosses". Lutyens according to his biographer, Christopher Hussey, relied on "elemental Mode", a style of commemoration based on "universal architectural style free of religious ornamentation". The India Gate, which has been called a "creative reworking of the Arc de Triomphe" has a span of 30 feet, and lies on the eastern axial end of Kingsway, present day Rajpath, the central vista and main ceremonial procession route in New Delhi.[3]

The 42-metre tall India Gate, 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 this is rarely done. The India Gate hexagon complex, with a diameter of about 625 metres, covers approximately 306,000 m² in area.


India Gate Delhi illuminated with Indian Flag Colours

The cornice of the India Gate is inscribed with the Imperial suns while both sides of the arch have INDIA, flanked by the dates MCMXIV (1914 left) and MCMXIX (1919 right). Below the word INDIA, in capital letters, is inscribed:


Inscription on top of India Gate.

Names on the India Gate

13,218 war dead are commemorated by name on the India Gate. Due to security reasons access to read the names on the memorial is restricted. The names can be however be seen on the Delhi Memorial (India Gate website, which lists the names with date of death,unit, regiment, place on gate where name is inscribed, location, and other information.) The names on the gate include that of a female staff nurse from the Territorial Force, killed in action in 1917.[7]


Canopy behind India Gate.

About 150 metres East of the India Gate war memorial, at a junction of six roads, is a 73-foot cupola, inspired by a sixth-century pavilion from Mahabalipuram. Lutyens used four Delhi Order columns to support the domed canopy and its chhajja.[8] [9] Under the canopy on a pedestal with the Royal Coat of Arms and the inscription GEORGE V R I ('Rex Imperator', or 'King Emperor') there was a fifty-foot-tall (15.2 m) marble statue by Charles Sargeant Jagger of King George V, in his coronation robes, Imperial State Crown, British globus cruciger and sceptre, which sometime during or after the statue's removal broke off. Since the shifting of the old statue in the 1960s to Coronation Park to join other British Raj-era statues, it was often suggested that a statue of Mahatma Gandhi be placed under the cupola, where the king's statue once stood. The suggestion was even discussed in the Indian Parliament. In 1981, the Government in response to a question in parliament confirmed that it was considering the installation of Mahatma K Gandhi statue under the empty canopy, but nothing came of it.[10]

Amar Jawan Jyoti

Amar Jawan Jyoti view from front.
Prime Minister of India and the chiefs of Indian Armed Forces services, saluting the martyrs at Amar Jawan Jyoti, on the occasion of the Republic day.

Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the flame of the immortal soldier, is a structure consisting of black marble plinth, with reversed L1A1 Self-loading rifle, capped by war helmet, bound by four urns, each with the permanent light (jyoti) from (CNG) flames,[11] erected under the India Gate in the wake Liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971 to commemorate Indian soldiers killed in the defence of their country. It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 27 January 1979, the 23rd Republic Day. Since the installation of the Amar Jawan Jyoti, in 1972, it has served as India's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Amar Jawan Jyoti is manned round the clock by soldiers drawn from the three services of the Indian armed forces. Wreaths are placed at the Amar Jawan Jyoti on 26 January, by the Prime Minister of India, and Chiefs of Armed Forces; on Vijay Diwas, and on Infantry Day.[12] Infantry Day, is the day Indian Infantry air landed at Srinagar on 27 October 1947 to stop and defeat the Pakistani mercenaries attack on Jammu and Kashmir. 68th Infantry day was marked by ‘Wreath Laying’ ceremony at ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ by Chief of Army Staff, Gen Dalbir Singh, and by Lt Gen Chandra Shekhar (Retd) on behalf of Infantry veterans.[13]

National War Memorial

In July 2014 the Government announced plans to construct a National War Memorial around the canopy, and a National War Museum in adjoining Princess Park. The War Memorial and Museum are expected to cost Rupees 400 crores or about US Dollars 66 Million.[14]


Robert Garside, a British runner, also known as "The Runningman" began the first run around-the-world run from India Gate in October 2000.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Metcalf, Thomas R. (31 March 2014). "WW I: India's Great War Dulce Et Decorum Est India Gate, our WW-I cenotaph, now stands for an abstracted ideal". Outlook (31 March 2014). Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  2. "DELHI MEMORIAL (INDIA GATE)". CWGC. CWGC. 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 David A. Johnson; Nicole F. Gilbertson (4 August 2010). "Commemorations of Imperial Sacrifice at Home and Abroad: British Memorials of the Great War" (PDF). The History Teacher. 4. 43: 563–584. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 Connaught, Duke of, Arthur (1921). His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught in India 1921 Being a Collection of the Speeches Delivered by His Royal Highness. Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing. pp. 69–71.
  5. "A fine balance of luxury and care". Hindustan Times. 21 July 2011. Archived from the original on 27 November 2011.
  6. "When Railways nearly derailed New Delhi. It was also designed by BRIG V.K SHENOY.". Delhi Weekend Getaways. 18 January 2011.
  7. CWGC (2014). "Find War Dead". Find War Dead:DELHI MEMORIAL (INDIA GATE). CWGC. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  8. Stamp, Gavin (1981). "King George V Memorial, Princes' Place, New Delhi". Lutyens: The Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944). London: Arts Council of Great Britain. p. 180. ISBN 0-7287-0304-1.
  9. Gradidge, Roderick (1981). Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: George Allen and Unwin. p. 151. ISBN 0-04-720023-5.
  10. India. Parliament. House of the People; India. Parliament. Lok Sabha (1981). Lok Sabha Debates. Lok Sabha Secretariat. pp. 197–.
  11. Gupta, Geeta (10 June 2012). "Keeper of the flame". indianexpress. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  12. Goswami, Col (retd) Manoranjan. "War memorial". Assam Tribune. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  13. "Wreath Laying at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Infantry Day". PIB, MOD. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  14. Rajat, Pandit (Jul 10, 2014). "Budget 2014: India to finally get a national war memorial, Modi govt allocates Rs 100cr". Times of India. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
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