Sunday, 1 January 2012

Incredible India: India Gate

Halting and hobbling
After visiting the Bahá’í Lotus Temple, I had planned to visit India Gate, an imposing structure very much like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and this meant getting off at the northern terminus of the Violet Line that intersects with the Yellow Line at Central Secretariat metro station.
Unlike on my way to the Lotus Temple no one offered their seat to me, I was suffering quite a bit after my walks and much as I had not needed my cane for the last few months in the Netherlands, I did have it with me in India and found that I needed it more than I realised I would.
This month has been sedentary at best, in the Netherlands I would have been on my bicycle, the riding helped a lot as physiotherapy, not much so here even with the just usable gym downstairs.
Wide and ceremonial
From the signposting within the metro I came out at Gate 3 and then realised India Gate was not going to be a brisk walk for I got on a tuk-tuk having negotiated tourist prices with the driver.
Left and then left turn, I could see India Gate looking deceptively close but probably a good 2 kilometres away. The lawns on both sides of this really wide road had been cordoned off with seats being installed in readiness for some parade which I suspect is the Indian Republic Day on the 26th of January.
I suppose they had to start this early for all sorts of reasons that I will refrain from generalisation and supposition.
No snaps, no thank you
Just before the major road in front of the gate, I got off and for the first time I saw a pedestrian crossing with traffic lights and push-button call signal. Though I also noticed I was the only one who thought it sensible to cross there – Indians basically jay-walk with a sense of bravado that borders on the suicidal.
As I got to the gate, I ran the gauntlet of photographers, in all maybe 20 approached me and I was not their typical tourists, those that were not in my face, I ignored completely and those who dared to be bolder got a sharp and stern rebuke that they almost scurried away like frightened squirrels.
What I found most fascinating was the Taj Mahal pose which had been brought to India Gate as a novelty. The one where photographically you appeared to be touching the tip of the Taj Mahal just did not look as exciting if it was the flat-topped India Gate – I was having none of it and I was not being a killjoy, just unimpressed.
To the fallen
India Gate built in 1931 during the colonial times to honour and memorialise the war dead is now the national monument and the Indian Army’s tomb to the Unknown Soldier.
The walls of the gate are engraved with names of the fallen and a flame burns under the canopy. The expansive grounds around the gate are public areas where people gather for picnics, games and other activities.
Everything on sale there was going for prices I was not willing to pay to the many that were there to exploit for opportunity and occasion. After circumnavigating the gate, I decided to have a late lunch at Connaught Place – I got on the metro in the wrong direction then changed, had a meal and returned to crash out until I was woken up at midnight by the fireworks and celebrations ushering in the New Year.

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