The India Gate, originally named All India War Memorial, was built to pay homage to the 82,000 soldiers of the Undivided Indian Army who lost their lives fighting for the British Empire in World War I (1914-1918) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). It was undertaken as part of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) initiated by the British Imperial Mandate in 1917.The foundation stone was laid by the visiting Duke of Connaught on 10 February 1921, at 4:30 PM, in a military ceremony attended by members of the Indian Army as well as the Imperial Service Troops. The Commander in Chief, and Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford who was the Viceroy of India at the time, was also present. The ceremony hounored the 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force), 3rd Sappers and Miners, Deccan Horse, 6th Jat Light Infantry, 39th Garhwal Rifles, 34th Sikh Pioneers, 117th Mahrattas, and 5th Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), with title of ” Royal ” in recognition of their gallant services in combat. The project was completed ten years later in 1931 and was inaugurated on February 12, 1931, by the Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Every year on 26th January, the Republic Day parade starts from the Rashtapati Bhavan (the President House) and progresses around the Gate. The parade displays the latest achievements in the field of defense technology as well as the rich cultural heritage of the country.
Design & Architecture
All India War Memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, a leading war memorial designer at that time. A member of the IWGC, he designed sixty-six war memorials in Europe, including the Cenotaph, in London, in 1919. Cenotaph is the first British national war memorial erected after World War I and was commissioned by David Lloyd George, contemporary British prime minister. Although it is a memorial, the design is that of a triumphal arch, similar to the Arch de Triomphe in Paris, France. Situated at the centre of a hexagonal complex with a diameter of 625m and a total area of 360,000 m2, the India Gate is 42m in height and 9.1m in width. The building material is primarily Red and yellow sandstones sourced from Bharatpur. The structure stands on a low base and rises in asymmetrical steps crowned with a shallow dome at the top. There is also a vacant canopy in front of the monument under which once stood the statue of George V in his coronation robes, Imperial State Crown, British globus cruciger and scepter. The statue was later shifted to Coronation Park in 1960 and the empty canopy symbolizes the British retreat from India.