India celebrated its 58th Republic Day here Friday with the traditional parade from Vijay Chowk to Red Fort highlighting the nation's achievements in various fields, its military prowess and diverse cultural heritage.
As per tradition, President APJ Abdul Kalam unfurled the tricolour at about 10 am at Vijay Chowk and took the salute -- with chief guest, Russian President Vladimir Putin, looking on along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the three service chiefs and a host of ministers, bureaucrats and diplomats.
The parade was commanded by Major General PC Bhardwaj while General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area Brig Harvinder Pal Singh Dhillon was the parade second-in-command.
The armed forces showcased the Brahmos Supersonic Cruise Missiles, T-72 tanks Bofors and multi-barrel Rocket Launching System Pinaka in the parade.
Indian Air Force paraded the unmanned Aerial Vehicle Searcher-II and Indra-II Radar in the parade.
After the display of military might, the cultural part took over with a series of colourful tableaux depicting the many facets of India, performances by schoolchildren and folk dances.
The celebrations had begun early in the morning at the soldiers' memorial Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate with the prime minister leading the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath.
For the first time in the 58 years since India became a republic, a foreigner was given the honour of leading a unit of the army contingent. Captain Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, grandson of the Sultan of Johar, a state in Malaysia, led the mounted column of the Jaipur based 61st cavalry, which formed part of the army contingent at the 105-minute parade.