Amid a tight security and grand parade that displayed the mighty strength of Indian military, the national capital on Saturday celebrated the 64th Republic Day showcasing India's rich and varied cultural diversity.
Besides the Prime Minister, the President, the Vice President and a host of other Indian ministers, politicians, dignitaries, every year, there is a visitor from a foreign country.
Bhutan´s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was the Chief Guest at the 64th Republic Day Celebrations, who was also the Guest of Honour at the parade at Rajpath here.
In India, Republic Day commemorates the date (Jan 26, 1950) on which the Constitution of India came into force replacing the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of the country.
This year's parade, that commenced from the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying wreath, highlighted the nation's achievements in various fields, the military prowess, scintillating display of air power as also country's rich and diverse cultural heritage.
The highlights of this year's Parade was the above 5,000 kms range Agni-V missile.
The advanced Long Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile capable of being launched from anywhere in any direction and within a few minutes from a self-contained Road Mobile Launcher was paraded by the Defence Research & Development Organisation.
The state-of-the-art missile, which was successfully flight tested in the month of April last year, has provided the true deterrence capability and brought India at par with the elite group of advanced countries possessing this capability.
A mini version of INS Vikramaditya which will join the Naval fleet by the end of this year was showcased to highlight Indian Navy's blue water operating capability.
The DRDO had also put on display the Armoured Amphibious Dozer (AAD), an indigenously developed versatile Combat Engineer support equipment with excellent earth moving and amphibious capabilities in varied terrain.
Besides Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) System, Naval Sonar was also displayed on Rajpath by DRDO.
The weaponry was put on display by the Indian Army including the Main Battle Tank 'Arjun', APC Ambulance tracked, theonly Super Sonic Cruise Missile Brahmos Weapon System, Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Recce Vehicle, Sarvatra Bridge, Mobile Integrated Network Terminal (MINT) and Radio Trunking System Mk-II (RTS Mk-II).
The Army`s Mechanized Columns concluded with a flypast by the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv of the Army Aviation Corps.
The Indian Air Force showcased its latest acquisitions on its tableau. It comprise the new basic trainer aircraft, the Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II and the new VIP helicopter, the Augusta Westland AW-101. It also showcased the indigenous 'eyes in the sky' atop the Embraer 145, Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and the strategic heavy lift aircraft, C-17 Globemaster-III, which will enter service by the middle of this year.
The Indian Navy's tableau depicted a scaled down model of INS Vikramaditya, a large aircraft carrier which will join the naval fleet by the end of this year. The ship is capable of sustaining at sea for more than 45 days at a stretch.
She is also equipped to carry over 30 combat aircraft at any time giving her the freedom to operate and strike anywhere at sea. The Navy's tableau also focusing on INS Chakra, a nuclear propelled submarine.
As per tradition, after unfurling of the National Flag, the National Anthem was played.
The parade then commenced and the President took the salute.
The parade was commanded by Lt. General Subroto Mitra, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area. Major General Rajbir Singh, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area will be the parade Second-in-Command.
The marching contingents of Army included the horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, Mechanized Infantry Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry, Dogra Regiment, Garhwal Rifles, Ladakh Scouts, 8 Gorkha Training Centre, Army Ordnance Corps and Territorial Army (Punjab).
The marching contingents of Navy comprising 144 men was led by Lt. Commander Ajay Kumar Verma and the Air Force contingent comprising 144 men will be led by Flight Lieutenant Heena Pore.
The marching contingents of paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces included contingents from the Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme.
The Camel-mounted band of the BSF and the Ex-Servicemen marching contingent was the another major attraction.
Tableaux from 19 states and Central Ministries and Departments presented the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country.
They also showcased the country's progress in different fields.
Twenty one of the 22 children selected for the National Bravery Award-2012 also participate in the parade. One child has got the award posthumously.
In the children's pageant section, 1,000 boys and girls drawn from Delhi`s two schools, one school from Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and one from Eastern Zone Cultural Centre, Kolkata presented dances and other programmes.
Tornadoes, the motorcycle display by the Army Service Corps was a major attraction of the parade.
The tornadoes team consisted of 135 riders on motorcycles performing Standing Salute, Ladder Balance, Fish Riding, Back Riding, Long Arm, Verma Lotus, ASC Special, Balance Seat and Fish, Sudershan Chakra, Balance Ride Standing, Ladder Lotus and Human Pyramid forms under the leadership of Major SS Rathore.
They also performed breathtaking stunts in a synchronised and synergetic display of mind, body and machine coordination.
The grand finale of the parade was a spectacular flypast by the IAF.
The flypast commenced with 'Chakra' formation, comprising three Mi-35 helicopters in 'Vic' formation, followed by the Hercules formation comprising three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in 'Vic' formation.
Trailing them was a Big Boy formationcomprising one IL-78, flanked by two AN-32 and two Dorniers.
Next in line there was the fighters, - while five Jaguars flew in Arrowhead formation, another five Mig-29 air Superiority Fighter called the "Tridents" flew in Fulcrum style.
Then the Trishul formation comprising three Su-30 MKI flew over the Rajpath and once in front of the saluting dais the Su-30MKI aircraft that split upwards, making a Trishul in the sky.
The flypast concluded with another Sukhoi Su-30 MKI carrying out a Vertical Charlie manoeuvre over the saluting dais.
The ceremony culminated with the National Anthem and release of balloons.
Several educational institutions celebrated R-Day with patriotic fervour in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mumbai also turned into a giant party zone with music, fireworks and laser shows, weaning off many from the tedium followed by a siesta and an lazy evening with markets and retail outlets closed.