In England where I was raised, war memorials were prominent in almost every town. These monuments were often located in quiet places where one could relax and reflect on life (or death). I was often struck by the large numbers of soldiers killed in their prime. I am always grateful that I have never had to go to war, although I have served in the military.
Visitors from India
The number of visitors to my blog from India is second only to the United States. I decided to write a post about India to see if any of my visitors could add any first hand experiences to what I have written. Searching for a photograph of India, I consistently came across India Gate. Therefore that is my choice for today. What is your favorite destination in India?
The India Gate is one of the largest war memorials in India. Located at Rajpath, in the heart of New Delhi, India Gate commemorates the 90,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who lost their lives during World War I and the Afghan Wars. The memorial is over 137 feet high and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, a leading 20th century British architect. The foundation stone was laid by HRH the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and the monument was dedicated ten years later by Viceroy Lord Irwin.
The arch stands on a base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge cornice, beneath which are inscribed Imperial suns. Above on both sides is inscribed INDIA, along with the date, MCMXIV (1914) on the left and MCMXIX (1919) on the right. The shallow domed bowl at the top was intended to be filled with burning oil on anniversaries.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Following India’s independence, India Gate became the site of the Indian Army’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, known as the Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the flame of the immortal warrior. This flame has been burning in a shrine under the arch of India Gate since 1971. The shrine itself is a black marble cenotaph (a tomb in honor of a person whose remains are elsewhere) 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” meaning Immortal Warrior. This cenotaph is itself placed on an edifice which has on its four corners four torches that are perpetually kept alive. It was unveiled on January 26, 1972 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in the wake of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.