Raj Ghat in Delhi
One of the most important National memorials, Rajghat is the the cremation place of Mahatma Gandhi , the Father of the Nation. The laste rites of Gandhiji were performed here on January 31, 1948. Since then, Rajghat has become an essential item on the tourist's itinerary. The shrine is located between the main Ring Road and the banks of the Yamuna River, to the southeastern side of the Red Fort.
Meaning of the Raj Ghat:
"Raj Ghat" literally mean the "Royal Steps", aptly suits the ultimate resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. The Raj Ghat enjoys the status of a shrine to the Indians and foreigners around the world too.
History of Raj Ghat
Gandhiji or Bapu was honoured with the title of “Mahatma” by the whole nation, which literally means 'the divine soul'. He taught the lessons and theories of Satya (Truth) and Ahimsa (Non-Violence) to the nation and his principles proved to be successful in achieving freedom from the British. On January 30, 1948, while on his way to a prayer meeting, he was shot dead by Nathu Ram Godse, a Hindu fanatic. Gandhiji's body was cremated at this holy place which was given the name of Raj Ghat or Gandhi Samadhi.
Architecture of Raj Ghat
The structure of the Samadhi is very simple and is surrounded by well manicured gardens spread over acres of land. The samadhi/shrine is a simple square shaped stone platform made of black marbel. Bapu's last words, after being shot by Nathuram Godse, were “Hey Ram” , which are inscribed on the divine samadhi. A flame keeps burning continuously near the black platform in a copper urn.
Attractions At Raj Ghat
Raj Ghat has a lovely garden where you can sit and reflect in peace or take a stroll and soak up the greenery. Opposite Raj Ghat are two museums dedicated to the Father of the Nation, housing a set of memorabilia and photographs which evoke a sense of nostalgia. At the Gandhi Memorial Museum, you can catch a documentary on the life of this noble soul and the philosophy of the Sarvodaya Movement. English show timing is 0930 to 1730 hours, except Thursdays. On Sundays, the show is at 1500 hours in Hindi and at 1700 hours in English.
The cremation sites of other renowned National leaders such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru & Shree Sanjay Gandhi ( Shanti Van ), Smt. Indira Gandhi ( Shakti Sthal ), Shree Rajiv Gandhi ( Vir Bhoomi ) and Pandit Lal Bahadur Shastri ( Vijay Ghat ) are located quite close to Rajghat.
There are several trees planted near the samadhi, which are labeled with the names of visiting dignitaries. British Queen Elizabeth II, Ho Chi Minh, Yaser Arafat, Colonel Nasser, Marshal Tito, the former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitman and Paul Keating and the former US presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Regan are few of them.
The Gandhi Memorial Museum, which houses many possessions of Gandhi and photographs from his life, is located quite close to Rajghat. A beautiful mosque Zinat-ul Masjid is also located north to Raj Ghat.
Special Occasions Celebrated at Raj Ghat
The entry to the samadhi is free and open for all the people irrespective of caste, creed or color. The place also has a great political value as several political laders visit the shrine to pay homage to the great leader every year on his birthday which is the 2nd of October. Prayers and cultural programmes are organised on his birthday (2nd October) and death anniversary ( Martyr's Day - 30th January) every year. Besides, a commemorative ceremony takes place every Friday at Rajghat.
Other attractions near Raj Ghat
Among other places of interest near Raj Ghat are: National Gandhi Museum, which has a collection of photographs and trivia about Gandhi ji; Shakti Sthal, the cremation spot of Indira Gandhi; Vijay Ghat, the cremation place of Lal Bahadur Sashtri; Veer Bhoomi, the last resting place of Rajiv Gandhi.
How to reach
The nearest airport is the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The old Delhi Railways station is the closest to the spot, and Kashmiri Gate is the closest Metro Station. While there are a number of local buses that one can avail to reach Raj Ghat, autos are also a good option to consider for the purpose.
Timings: From sunrise to sunset, the memorial is open for visitors.