The full-dress rehearsal of the Republic Day Parade left thousands of commuters in the capital stranded on Monday due to traffic restrictions during peak hours, a police official said.
While Delhi Traffic police had issued an advisory in the newspapers on the restricted routes, diversions were chock full and led to chaos and confusion at major junctions that were clogged with vehicles.
"From 10 a.m., traffic on Tilak Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg will not be allowed in both directions. However, cross traffic will be allowed as per parade position," the advisory said.
The Republic Day Parade on Jan 26 winds its way down an eight-kilometre route from Vijay Chowk at the foot of the Raisina Hill where North and South Blocks of the Central Secretariat tower to the 17th century Red Fort, winding its way along Rajpath, India Gate and Tilak Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg.
Many Delhiites stood waiting for buses that ply via India Gate.
"I usually travel by a bus for R.K. Puram as the nearest Metro station is quite far. I did not realise the R-Day rehearsal was happening Monday and kept waiting for a bus. Finally, I had to take the Metro after asking people around," Ashwini Sharma, a bank employee, told IANS.
"It didn't end there. I had to take an auto from the AIIMS Metro station," Sharma added.
According to the traffic advisory issued by Delhi Police, similar restrictions will be in place on the Republic Day (Jan 26) on the 8-km route of the parade.
No traffic was allowed to ply from Vijay Chowk to India Gate on Rajpath from 5 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. or cross Rajpath from 9.30 am, including Rafi Marg, Janpath and Man Singh Road in central Delhi.
"Traffic jams were reported from ITO, Laxmi Nagar, Nizamuddin Bridge, Dhaula Kuan, Ring Road and areas around India Gate," an official from Delhi Traffic Police told IANS.
Some motorists chose to post their traffic woes on the Facebook page of Delhi traffic police. "I have been stuck in traffic near Mandi House since an hour now. What is the traffic police doing," fumed Vikas Yadav.
Joint commissioner of police (traffic) Satyendra Garg posted on the traffic police's Facebook page: "We realise it is working day for people. That is why we have provided people with alternatives. Our task of facilitating people and avoiding them to get into congestion will be done if people follow our suggestions."
"It is a two-way process: people cooperating and we facilitating. Let us see how good or bad is today's experience," Garg added.