Welcoming the New Year at India Gate

Fun unlimited: Delhiites plan to celebrate this New Year at their all-time favourite hotspot

Destination perfect: Saurabh Arya with his friends. DH Photo BY CHAMAN GAUTAMDays ahead of the year 2012 officially dawning on Delhi, India Gate has already started wearing a festive look.

The precincts of this national monument are brimming over with hawkers, families on outings, youngsters, foreign visitors and plain curious onlookers planning to celebrate their New Year here.

Miles ahead of the imposing structure, the long stretch of Rajpath bears a slightly desolate look, thanks to the bone chilling cold that anything beyond your immediate visibility range is fogged out. The lawns on the side display orderly seating arrangements, proof of preparations for January 26 parade having started already.

Come back to India Gate and you see the full-force of road side stalls selling refreshments like tea, toys, balloons and handicrafts.

These hawkers actually outnumber the visitors themselves. Rahul Gupta, selling beaded neck pieces here, says, “You should come here on January 1. It’s a sea of people here that day. I generally make an earning of Rs 1,000 daily, however, on December 31 and January 1, I easily make about Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000.” His friends Shankar Yadav and Sunil, selling balloons and stuffed toys add in unison, “January 1 also happens to be a Sunday, so we are expecting huge sales.”

Anna Hazare’s rallies are however a deterrent, as some hawkers here complain, “It damages our business. The cops shoo us away and then during the preparations for Republic Day, the premises are sealed for security. So our sales happen only during the New Year’s.”

However, not everybody is a harried lot here. Luo Shuai and his companion Luo Caixia from China are students of English at the famous Osmania University in Hyderabad and are visiting Delhi to celebrate their New Year. They inform, “We have already been to Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Connaught Place and Janpath. However, our friends told us, if you go to Delhi and don’t see India Gate, it is like going to China and not seeing the Great Wall of China.”

Saurabh Arya, a student of G B Pant Engineering College is seen enthralling the crowds belting out popular patriotic numbers on his guitar while his four friends sing along. He shares, “Youngsters these days think that Connaught Place is the most hip place to be, but do you realise how inspiring India Gate can be on such days? With this visit we hope to be inspired to write better songs and make better music.”

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