India Gate

The India Gate (formerly known as the All India War Memorial) is a war memorial located astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the "ceremonial axis" of New Delhi,[1] formerly called Kingsway. It stands as a memorial to 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 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.[2] Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the gate evokes the architectural style of the triumphal arch such as the Arch of Constantine, in Rome, and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai.

India Gate
India Gate in New Delhi 03-2016.jpg
Used for those deceased 1914–1921
Established10 February 1921
Unveiled12 February 1931
Location28°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 is located in Delhi
India Gate
India Gate (Delhi)
Designed byEdwin Lutyens

Following the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1972, a structure consisting of a black marble plinth with a reversed rifle, capped by a war helmet and bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the archway. This structure, called Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of the Immortal Soldier), has since 1971 served as India's tomb of the unknown soldier. India Gate is counted amongst the largest war memorials in India and every Republic Day, the Prime Minister visits the gate to pay their tributes to the Amar Jawan Jyoti, following which the Republic Day parade starts. The memorial-gate is also a popular spot for protests by the civil society in New Delhi.


Armoured cars passing through the gate, in the 1930s

The India Gate was part of the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC), which came into existence in December 1917 under the British rule for building war graves and memorials to soldiers who were killed in the First World War[3] The foundation stone of the gate then called the All India War Memorial, was laid on 10 February 1921, at 16:30, by the visiting Duke of Connaught in a ceremony attended by Officers and Men of the British Indian Army, Imperial Service Troops, the Commander in Chief, and Chelmsford, the viceroy.[4] 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".[4] The Duke also read out a message by the King, which 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 British 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 the title of "Royal" in recognition of the distinguished services and gallantry of the British Indian Army during the Great War".[4]

Ten years after the foundation stone laying ceremony, on 12 February 1931, the memorial was inaugurated by 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."[5] In the decade between the laying of foundation stone of the 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.[6][7]

The gate, which is illuminated every evening from 19:00 to 21:30, today serves as one of Delhi's most important tourist attractions. Cars travelled through the gate earlier, until it was closed to traffic.[citation needed] The Republic Day Parade starts from Rashtrapati Bhavan and passes around the India Gate.[citation needed] India gate is also a popular spot for civil society protests in New Delhi, with historical protests being against the Nirbhaya rape case, Unnao rape case, and the anti-corruption movement, inter alia.[8][9][10]

In 2017, the India Gate was twinned with the Arch of Remembrance in Leicester, England,[further explanation needed] another Lutyens war memorial, following a very similar design but on a smaller scale. In a ceremony, India's high commissioner to the United Kingdom laid a wreath at the arch in Leicester and the British high commissioner to India laid one at the India Gate.[11]

Design and structureEdit

India gate, as seen from Rajpath

The memorial-gate was designed by Sir 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 I.W.G.C., 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] The memorial in New Delhi, like the Cenotaph in London, is a 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 (138-foot)-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.[citation needed] The memorial-gate hexagon complex, with a diameter of about 625 metres, covers approximately 306,000 m2 in area.[citation needed]


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'; on the left) and MCMXIX ('1919'; on the right). Below the word INDIA, in capital letters, is inscribed:


Inscription on top of the gate

13,218 war dead are commemorated by their names on the gate.[citation needed] Due to security reasons access to read the names on the memorial is restricted, though they can be seen on the Delhi Memorial (India Gate website, which lists the names with their respective date of death, unit name, regiment, place on gate where name is inscribed, location, and other information).[citation needed] The names on the gate include that of a female staff nurse from the territorial force, killed in action in 1917.[12]


Canopy in vicinity of the gate
Canopy in 1952 with the George V statue still in place

About 150 metres east of the gate, 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.[13][14] The canopy was constructed in 1936 as part of a tribute to the recently deceased Emperor of India King George V, and covered a 70-foot-tall (21.34 m) marble statue by Charles Sargeant Jagger of George V in his coronation robes and Imperial State Crown, bearing the British globus cruciger and sceptre.[citation needed] From 1936 until its removal in 1968, this statue stood on a pedestal bearing the Royal Coat of Arms and the inscription GEORGE V R I, the "R I" designating him as 'Rex Imperator' or 'King Emperor'.[15] The canopy was originally topped by a gilded Tudor Crown and bore the Royal Cyphers of George V. These were removed on 12 August 1958.[16]

The statue remained standing at its original location for two decades following India's independence in 1947, but increasingly became a target of opposition from some Indian politicians, particularly after the tenth anniversary of Independence and the centennial of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[15] Two days before Independence Day in 1965, members of the Samyukta Socialist Party overpowered two constables guarding the site, covered the statue in tar and defaced its imperial crown, nose and one ear, also leaving a photo of Subhas Chandra Bose at the monument.[15] The Indian government decided to relocate the statue but faced considerable criticism for taking this stance.[citation needed] The British government rejected a proposal to repatriate the monument to the United Kingdom, citing the lack of an appropriate site and sufficient funds, while the British High Commission in New Delhi declined to have the statue relocated to their compound, due to limited space.[15] Efforts to move the statue to a Delhi park were strongly opposed by the nationalist Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which then held power in the city.[15] Finally, in late 1968, the statue was removed from its position beneath the canopy and briefly placed in storage before being moved to Delhi's Coronation Park, where it joined other British Raj-era statues.[15]

During and after the statue's removal, it was often suggested that a statue of Mahatma Gandhi be placed under the canopy.[15] The suggestion was even discussed in the Indian Parliament.[citation needed] In 1981, the government had in response to a question in the Parliament, confirmed that it was considering the installation of a Gandhi statue under the empty canopy, but nothing came of it.[17]

Amar Jawan JyotiEdit

Amar Jawan Jyoti, beneath the arch of the gate

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 compressed natural gas flames,[18] erected under the India gate to commemorate Indian soldiers martyred in the war of the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971. It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 26 January 1972, the twenty-third Indian Republic Day.[citation needed] Since the installation of the Amar Jawan Jyoti, it has served as India's tomb of the unknown soldier.[citation needed] It is staffed around the clock by the Indian armed forces.[citation needed] Wreaths are placed at the Amar Jawan Jyoti every Republic Day, Vijay Diwas, and Infantry Day by the Prime Minister and the Chiefs of the Armed Forces.[19] 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. The sixty-eighth Infantry Day was marked by wreath laying ceremony by Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh, and by Lt. General Chandra Shekhar (Retd.) on behalf of infantry veterans.[20]

National War MemorialEdit

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 cabinet allocated rupees 500 crores or about U.S. Dollars 66 Million for the project.[21] The National War Memorial was completed in January 2019.[22][23]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Rashtrapati Bhavan museum ready to welcome visitors: 10 key attractions". 24 July 2016.
  2. ^ "DELHI MEMORIAL (INDIA GATE)". CWGC. CWGC. 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b c 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. OL 17945606M.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "A fine balance of luxury and care". Hindustan Times. 21 July 2011. Archived from the original on 27 November 2011.
  7. ^ "When Railways nearly derailed New Delhi. It was also designed by BRIG V.K SHENOY". Delhi Weekend Getaways. 18 January 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  8. ^ Dutta, Aesha (23 December 2012). "India Gate turns war zone as protests swell". The Hindu Business Online. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  9. ^ Ghosh, Dwaipayan (28 August 2012). "Limit public access to India Gate: Delhi Police". Economic Times. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  10. ^ PTI (29 July 2019). "Protest held at India Gate to demand justice for Unnao rape survivor". India Today. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Leicester and New Delhi war memorials links ceremonies". BBC News. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  12. ^ CWGC (2014). "Find War Dead". Find War Dead:DELHI MEMORIAL (INDIA GATE). CWGC. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  13. ^ 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 978-0-7287-0304-9.
  14. ^ Gradidge, Roderick (1981). Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: George Allen and Unwin. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-04-720023-6.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g McGarr, Paul (2015). "The Viceroys are Disappearing from the Roundabouts in Delhi: British symbols of power in post-colonial India". Modern Asian Studies. 49 (3): 787–831. doi:10.1017/s0026749x14000080.
  16. ^ "Crown over Delhi Statue Removed - George V Memorial". The Times. 13 August 1958.
  17. ^ India. Parliament. House of the People; India. Parliament. Lok Sabha (1981). Lok Sabha Debates. Lok Sabha Secretariat. pp. 197–.
  18. ^ Gupta, Geeta (10 June 2012). "Keeper of the flame". indianexpress. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  19. ^ Goswami, Col (retd) Manoranjan. "War memorial". Assam Tribune. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  20. ^ "Wreath Laying at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Infantry Day". PIB, MOD. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  21. ^ Joseph, Josy (7 October 2015). "Cabinet clears Rs. 500 crore for National War Memorial". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  22. ^ Pandit, Rajat (1 January 2019). "Delhi: War memorial ready, 60 years after it was first proposed". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 3 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  23. ^ Bhatnagar, Gaurav Vivek (21 April 2018). "National War Memorial Takes Shape Six Decades After Being Conceived". The Wire. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.

External linksEdit