Memorials of Leaders

Raj Ghat,where Mahatma Gandhi is commemorated, lies a short distance to the south. International leaders, including Eisenhower andHo Chi Minh, have made pilgrimages to Raj Ghat and planted trees, which are labelled with their names. Beneath a footbridge, a path leads to the enclosed garden, created to mark where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated and where his monument now stands. A simple, black marble platform indicates the precise site of the cremation; it bears the single Hindi word Rama(God), and a flame burns continuously in a lamp at its head.Every Friday, the day on which Gandhi was killed ,a ceremony takes place here during which offering (puja) are made to his memory,

Facing Raj Ghat, on Ring Road, at its junction with Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, is the Gandhi Memorial Museum. Of greatest interest to most visitors are the meagre personal belongings of the Mahatma, which include his stick, sandals, spectacles and watch. Also displayed, a grisly exhibit, is the bullet that killed him.

Vijay Ghat, also parkland, faces the east wall of the Red Fort and incorporates a memorial to India's second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who died in 1966, and was cremated here. Immediately south of Vijay Ghat, in Shanti Van, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who died in 1964, and his grandson Sanjay Gandhi, killed in an air crash in 1980, were both cremated and are commemorated.

Shakti Sthal, together with Raj Ghat to its south, is the most visited of India's memorial grounds. Here are commemorated three Indian leaders, all bearing the name Gandhi and all assassinated by extremists. Most visitors are moved, some to tears, by this poignant reminder of such wanton destruction of peaceful, democratic lives. Shakti Sthal is also of interest to geologists, as specimens of rock from all India are exhibited in the grounds, many of them formed when the then island of India collided, on its northward drift, with the continent of Asia.

Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi assassinated in 1984 by two of her Sikh guards, was cremated here, and a great rock marks the spot. Foreign visitors should bear in mind that the ashes of cremated Hindus are scattered over holy water, such as he River Gangaes or Pushkar Lake, and therefore, unlike Muslim, their monuments are examples not tombs but cenotaphs. Some confusion also exists over the name Gandhi. Mrs Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, and gained her surname through marriage to Feroze Gandhi, who was not related in any way to Mahatma Gandhi; a strange historical coincidence! Her son Rajiv, Prime Minister of India (1984-89), was killed in south India by a bomb during his election campaign of 1991. It is believed that the assassin was an elderly Tamil women, who also died in the explosion after presenting him with a bouquet of flowers in which the bomb was concealed. A brick plinth to the north-east commemorates Rajiv Gandhi; note that it is forbidden to mount the steps.

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