The name India Gate evokes image of ice cream wallahs, dal papdi, toy sellers, kids flying hot air balloons and families hanging out. What a time and what a life; the joie de vivre. But it was 1999.
When I first arrived here in Delhi from a small town Bermo in Jharkhand 13 years back, one of my friends asked “Let’s go. I’ll take you on a bike ride to India Gate. It’s a happening place during nights. We’ll sit and relax for some time at India Gate.” “Are you kidding” I replied. It’s was almost midnight. “Isn’t it a bit too late.”
From where I came people went to bed by 10 in the night. But not so in Delhi! It had vibrant night life back then. So off we went to India Gate. We had ice creams, gorged on Delhi’s spicy street food, purchased plastic football and played and then laid down to relax on the lush grounds of India Gate.
“This is awesome” I told my friends. “We shall come to India Gate every weekend”. And it stayed so for more than 2 years. Sometimes fortnightly sometimes longer but every month, my friends and I visited India Gate; sometimes to relax and sometimes to chill out and play.
Oh! How I love my City.
But alas days have changed. Earlier people – mostly families – used to sit back and relax and chill out at India Gate even as late as 2 O’ Clock to 3 O’ Clock in the morning.. Fathers, kids and mothers or even relatives sat together. They carried even dinner and ate together.
With the benefit of hindsight I could say India Gate on weekend became a microcosm of India’s family values. All got together, ate together and laughed and played together. O good ol’ days! Reminds me of Echo and the Bunnymen: Nothing ever last forever!
Those days, there were lesser crimes and lesser policing and security measures. Increase in crime rate and then some terrorist attacks in Delhi have ensured that we the people suffer for it. No night outs.
Places like Pandara Road and India Gate which were accessible 24×7 with food stalls and eating options are no more accessible as police directive won’t let outlet open in most of Delhi.
Nowadays India Gate closes for public before midnight. Police chase away any vendor selling street food or ice creams. There are lesser family gatherings at India Gate these days. Yet despite all odds, India Gate is still one of the best places to hangout in city I love: Delhi.
Here’s top 10 Reason why I love India Gate
1. It is the first monument in Delhi that I visited and instantly fell in love with my city.
2. It is a war memorial built by British commemorating 90.000 soldiets of British Indian Army who lost their lives in World War I and Anglo- Afghan War.
3. ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti‘ which remains aflame 24×7 celebrates the undying spirit of immortal soldier
4. Its picturesque surroundings and lush green lawns where you could sit at leisure or lay down and relax or just play with friend or family.
5. Vendors selling hot and spicy street food as in dal papdi, sprouts, chuski. bhel puri
6. ice cream vendors selling multitude of brands and flavors
7. This 42 year tall magnificent piece of architecture looks even grander during night when myriad hued floodlights are switched on.
8. The canopies, water pools, and sprawling lawns offer good photo ops more so during night when the India Gate is dramatically floodlit and water fountains come to life.
9. Monsoon rain is best enjoyed on bike riding along India Gate and Rajpath.
10. it’s a place to take your friend and family to hangout on any day only difference is you can’t stay back late after midnight.
Do you care to know about seven cities of Delhi?
- Maharaja Express Train: Treasures of India Journey
- Janpath Market Delhi – I Love my City