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Celebrating 'Azadi' With 'Rahgiri' in Delhi

On this Independence Day evening, the historic Chandni Chowk street in Delhi's Walled City, otherwise chock-a-block with chaotic traffic and a teeming mass of people, was wide open for a stroll.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) for the first time ever organised 'rahgiri' in the city in collaboration with a leading English daily with an aim to promote non-motorised vehicles and to bring the charm and history of old Delhi closer to the people.

'Rahgiri', a street fete concept, now popular in the national capital region, involves people carrying out various activities in a street, minus the honking of horns and polluting vehicles.

"The idea was to bring the charm of the Walled City closer to people, as otherwise the streets, flanked by old buildings, are too noisy and too filled up to appreciate its beauty. And through this event, people could see, touch, feel and smell the city, literally," NDMC PRO Yogendra Singh Mann told PTI.

Among the activities organised during the four-hour 'rahgiri' included cycling, kite-flying, painting the tricolour on faces, apart from enjoying street foods, all in the background of patriotic songs.

Visitors were seen enjoying riding 'eco-friendly' bicycles from the 1.2-km-long famed stretch from the Lal Mandir (Jain temple) on Red Fort's end to Fatehpuri Masjid on the other.

And, the venue, Mann said, could not have been better, as Red Fort, the symbol of "our azadi celebrations since 1947" overlooks the bustling street that has over time, become the symbol of the old Delhi.

"Flag hoisting in the morning at Lal Quila and then an occasion to walk and engage in colourful activities in the evening at the adjoining Chandni Chowk, we wanted to give people a complete family experience on the occasion," he said.

Chandni Chowk market area designed by Jehan Ara, daughter of Mughal emperor Shahjehan was built by him in the 17th century and to this day draws crowd from home and abroad, for its centuries-old shops and gastronomical delights.

The streets were filled with tricolour balloons and extra lighting and the old architecture of the shops flanking the street added to the aura of the event.

Kite-flying on August 15, a tradition still followed especially in the Walled City, provided a colourful backdrop, even as visitors tried wielding the thread.

A signature wall was also installed at the place for people to sign and write messages for the day and also leave hand impressions on the canvas in the tricolour.

The over 140-year-old historic Town Hall in Chandni Chowk area was also beautifully lit up to mark the 68th Independence Day.

The colonial-era building earlier served as the headquarters of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi before its trifurcation in to three septate civic bodies -- North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) in 2012.

The NDMC had also planned a laser show at its current headquarters, the Civic Centre on Minto Road, opposite the New Delhi Railway Station, but the event was cancelled.

"We had planned a laser show on the five-storeyed annexe building of our Civic Centre, but we could not reach an agreement on certain terms with the private company that we had engaged for the purpose. So, unfortunately, we had to cancel it," Mann said.

Facade of the century-old Delhi Junction was also lit up in the national flag colours to mark the day.

New Delhi Municipal Council, civic body for the Lutyens' Delhi, also held its own 'rahgiri' in the historic Connaught Place with a host of colourful activities.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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