For so many of us, 26th January meant spending a chilly winter morning huddled up in a quilt with the rest of our family, watching the Republic Day Parade on TV. An annual ritual that has put experiencing this grand extravaganza up close on our bucket lists. The Republic Day parade in Delhi with all of India’s military might and cultural richness on display is a larger-than-life opulent affair worth witnessing in person at least once in your lifetime. The arrival of the President, escorted by the horse-mounted President’s Bodyguard (PBG), the perfectly synchronised, almost lyrical, marching of contingents, rockets, missiles and guns on display, fighter jets painting the sky in tricolour and vibrant floats bringing out our eclectic mix of cultures – everything about the Republic Day Parade makes the chest swell with pride. Our cynicism or lack of nationalism notwithstanding.
If you are in Delhi and want to attend the Republic Day Parade, don’t put it off until the next year just because you don’t what needs to be done to book yourself a seat in the visitors’ gallery. Here’s everything you need to know about attending the Republic Day Parade this year:
When is the Republic Day Parade Held?
Yes, everyone knows it’s on January 26, but we are talking about the timing here because a lot of people give up the idea thinking that the parade starts really early in the morning and spectators are required to take their seats by 5 am.
The Republic Day Parade is considered open with the hoisting of the national flag at 9 am but the actual parade gets underway at 9.30 am and lasts almost three hours.
It is well-known that the Republic Day Parade in Delhi takes place on the Rajpath. It covers a 5-km route, starting from Raisina Hill and culminating at Red Fort.
What’s Special at Republic Day Parade 2019?
The Republic Day Parade has some regular features such as the arrival of the President with the pose of PBG, wreath wreath-laying at Amar Jawan Jyoti by the Prime Minister, hoisting of the national flag accompanied by a 21-gun salute and the national anthem being sung. In addition to these, each year, the parade has some special features and highlights as well.
This year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebration. Since 2019 also marks Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, a year-long tribute to the Father of the Nation will begin with the Republic Day celebrations. The South African president has been invited as the chief guest in keeping with that theme, given Gandhi’s deep link to the country.
Women power will also feature as a primary theme in this year’s Republic Day Parade. The Border Security Force’s ‘Daredevil’ motorcycle-borne stunt team comprises a woman member who will salute the guests while riding hands-free.
For the first time ever, the parade will have an all-women contingent from Assam Rifles and a woman-led Army marching contingent comprising 144 male soldiers.
In its display of military might, India will showcase new-age artillery weapons, including the K9 Vajra-T and M777 American Ultra Light Howitzer. The Indian Air Force will put up its experiment of using bio-fuel to propel military transport carriers on display as well. The AN-32 aircraft propelled by bio-jet fuel is slated to fly over Rajpath, making India one of few countries in the world to possess this capability.
A total of 17 states and UTs and six ministries will display their tableaux at the Republic Day Parade 2019. One of the key highlights would the float from Delhi that will showcase the life and time of Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Smriti (Birla House), right up to his assassination in 1948.
Getting Tickets for Republic Day Parade 2019
Coming to the all-important question of where to the get the tickets for Republic Day Parade. Senior government officials and VIPs living in Delhi get front row passes for the parade. If you have any connections in the North and South block, leverage them. If not, you can buy tickets from departmental sales counters directly.
These counters are operational from January 7 to 25 every year, 10 am to 12.30 pm and 2 pm to 4.30 pm, at the following locations:
- North Block Roundabout
- Sena Bhawan (Gate 2)
- Pragati Maidan (Gate 1 at Bhairon Road).
- Jantar Mantar (Main Gate).
- Shastri Bhawan (Near Gate 3)
- Jamnagar House (opposite India Gate).
- Red Fort (inside August 15 Park and opposite Jain Temple).
An additional ticket counter is open at Sena Bhawan from January 23 to 25 till 7 pm for last-minute planners.
All ticket counters remain closed during the full dress rehearsal of the parade on January 23. You need to carry a government-issued ID proof such as Voter ID Card or Aadhaar to be able to purchase the tickets. Two tickets can be bought on one ID card.
The tickets for the Republic Day Parade are divided into two categories – reserved and unreserved seats. The tickets are priced at Rs 500 for reserved seats and Rs 100 and Rs 20 for unreserved. It’s best to buy tickets from reserved seats, as these offer a better view. The unreserved ones are allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For more information on ticket availability, you can reach out to Mr Rajeev Kumar Kundi, the OSD Sale of Tickets and Printing on 011-2301-0047.
Dos and Don’ts
Having gone through the trouble of sourcing the tickets, getting up at the crack of dawn on a cold morning and reaching the venue well in time, you’d obviously look forward to making it a memorable experience. Here are a few dos and don’ts to bear in mind so that your maiden experience of attending the Republic Day Parade is pleasant and exhilarating and not harrowing:
- You are entering a high-security zone and are liable to be checked and frisked at several points before entering the seating enclosure.
- Mobile phone, camera, any electronic gadgets, even car key remotes are not allowed. If you are found carrying any of these, you will be asked to deposit them at the security checkpoint. Good luck finding them at the end of the parade! So it is best to leave them behind.
- If you are driving to the venue, find about the earmarked parking areas beforehand and put up a parking sticker on your vehicle so that you are allowed to drive through the high-security barricading.
- Study the directions, even if you are well-versed with Delhi, as there will be a lot of diversions along the way.
- Be early to avoid getting caught in the VIP movement and complete your security checks in time.
- Wear comfortable shoes and layer up adequately, as it will be biting cold outside at that time of the day.
- Eatables, water or beverages of any kind are not allowed, so help yourself to a hearty breakfast before entering the arena. If you are going with kids, carry a packet or two of biscuits.
- Pro tip: carry an old newspaper to place on your seat, as these are often damp and cold from the night-long frost.
Enjoy the spectacle and don’t forget to share your experiences with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.