My family sat around the TV set as the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took center stage from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day in 2002.
"May our goal be the limitless heights of the sky. May our feet be on the ground. May our minds be full of unyielding determination. May our hands be clasped together. May our resolve be to march together", Vajpayee said as he drew his exemplary speech to an end to which my family approved with a thunderous applause. It was his assurance of united future that day which brought smiles and hope. As we head into our 72nd year of independence, 16 years post that speech, his words remain itched in our hearts. Let's remember the resolve that brought this country together, let's commemorate those who sacrificed themselves by visiting a few touching location engraved in Indian history.
A sacred hallmark of the Indian struggle for its independence, the Jallianwala Bagh is a monument of immense national importance. Located in vicinity of the Golden Temple, the garden is a testament to commemorate the massacre of unarmed women and children by British occupying forces on the occasion of Baisakhi in 1919. A stroll around the garden will take you decades back to the years of pre-independent India. A small pyramid like structure erected in the garden marks the spot from where the British troops fired rounds at nearly 20,000 people. Bullet marks running deep into the structures inside the park are scattered over the premises.
Connecting India to its much disliked rival, Pakistan, the Wagah Border is a symbol of an attempt at friendship between the two nation. Serving as a transit terminal with a railway station nearby, Wagah lies between the momentous cities of Lahore and Amritsar. Known for its elaborate flag ceremony where the Indian BSF and Pakistani Rangers start the procession with a blustering parade eventually leading to an immaculately coordinated lowering of both nations' flag.
Gandhi Smriti and Raj Ghat
What is Independence Day without visiting sites paying tribute to the Father of the Nation. Gandhi's struggles and trials laid the foundation upon which this nation was built. On this auspicious occasion, a visit to the Gandhi Smriti can't be overlooked. A museum to remember the ex-barrister, this was where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last days of his life before being shot. A Martyr's Column stands to remember where Gandhi was assassinated while offering his prayers. Close to this pristine location is the Raj Ghat, which marks the spot of Gandhi's cremation. a black marble platform, left open to the sky, is embellished with an eternal flame at one of its end to mark the immortality of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Cellular Jail, Port Blair
Away from the main heartlands of India, the next location lies in the breathtaking islands of Andaman and Nicobar. Completed in 1906, the Cellular Jail in the Andaman capital of Port Blair was used as an aftermath to the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Numerous political prisoners such as Yogendra Shukla, Batukeshwar Dutt, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar were exiled to this remote archipelago. The isolated location of the islands often led to social exclusion, a punishment at times more severe than death.
Red Fort, Delhi
Steeped deep into Indian history and culture, the Red Fort has earned an iconic status among the local population. Since Indian independence in 1947, the Indian flag has proudly been raised here annually on every Independence Day. Prime Ministers have created history from this enduring location promising brighter future and vowing to tie the nation together in inseparable unity. Over 1 billion tune-in every year to listen to their leader acclaim successes over the past years and lauding progress that will be made.