Crowds swell at India Gate as Delhi returns to its favourite weekend hang-out

Updated on Sep 11, 2022 04:17 AM IST

After 19 months, India Gate was a viable weekend hang-out spot for residents of the national capital, who turned up in hordes at the iconic monument and the revamped Kartavya Path on Saturday, with crowds peaking in the evening, as visitors thronged the area for a glimpse of a drone show and the new statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

A drone show at India Gate on Saturday. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)
A drone show at India Gate on Saturday. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)
By, New Delhi

After 19 months, India Gate was a viable weekend hang-out spot for residents of the national capital, who turned up in hordes at the iconic monument and the revamped Kartavya Path on Saturday, with crowds peaking in the evening, as visitors thronged the area for a glimpse of a drone show and the new statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Police officers estimate that around 150,000 people visited the avenue on Saturday, of whom 40,000 arrived after sunset.

“We’d been waiting to get back here for months,” said Vivek Kaul, who was at India Gate with his wife and two children. “Ice-cream at India Gate used to be a weekend staple for us before the pandemic hit,” he said.

Though ice-cream sellers are still to return to the Central Vista Avenue, the New Delhi Municipal Council (which administers the Lutyens Delhi area) has kicked off the process to allow snack vendors at designated vending zones around India Gate.

“We have been here dozens of times. It was not so grand earlier. I hope this will be maintained and people will also keep it clean,” said Rakesh Awasthi, who was also visiting with his family.

However, Saturday’s numbers didn’t lead to unusual traffic on the busy C-Hexagon, traffic police officers said, adding that this was likely because people are no longer allowed to cross the roads in front of India Gate and must use the underpasses instead, even as 400 security and traffic personnel worked to keep movement on the thoroughfare fluid.

Several visitors who brought their own vehicles to India Gate on Saturday found themselves in a spot of bother, though, with some confusion about the parking system and arrangements keeping people driving in circles. Traffic police officers pointed out that these were teething troubles that are inevitable during the first few days, adding that movement will get smoother once commuters get familiar with the new arrangements.

Authorities have earmarked four parking spaces around Kartavya Path — two near the C-Hexagon and two near Rafi Marg. A spot visit by HT on Saturday showed that the spots near the C-Hexagon were the most in demand, but also difficult to access, with space hard to come by.

“I first tried to park my vehicle in parking lot number 2 near the Akbar Road-C Hexagon intersection. A police officer there told me that there was no space available, even as he allowed in cars driven by fellow policemen. Traffic police personnel present there then asked me to move towards parking number 1 near Ashoka Road,” said Vineet Chaudhary, a resident of Indirapuram who was visiting India Gate with his family but faced issues in parking his car.

The Avenue will, eventually, have six parking lots with space for over 1,100 vehicles. However, in the first few months only four parking lots will be operational and will be able to accommodate 550 cars and 35 buses, officials aware of the matter said.

Arvind Pandey, another visitor, said he faced similar issues and the guard manning the entry of parking 2 on Man Singh Road did not allow his vehicle in and claimed he said the parking space was “reserved for police and government officials.”

“In fact, a ‘parking full’ placard was put up on one of the barricades, even though enough space was visible inside and the guard was allowing police personnel to take their vehicles inside,” said Pandey, an IT professional.

Traffic police officers clarified that the parking lots are open for the public and that guards as well as police personnel deployed have been informed about this. They added that spaces were filling up fast because several people working in government offices nearby were also using the Central Vista parking lots.

“The issues will be addressed as things will get more streamlined,” said a senior traffic police officer who asked not to be named.

Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Aalap Patel said, “The parking spaces were full in the evening as a huge crowd turned up at India Gate. We had to send the vehicles to other parking slots available in the adjoining areas.”

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