Delhi is where the Indian democracy was born, and it is where some of the most intense and memorable moments of modern India have taken place. The Ramleela Maidan in New Delhi has seen many of these events. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru welcomed Queen Elizabeth II to India in 1961 on this very ground. After the dark years of the Emergency ended in 1977, this ground was where Indian politicians took a stand against the ruling Congress, forming the Janata Party. The Ramleela Maidan has witnesses many grand political rallies, but its origin and name comes from an event that happens during the yearly Navratri and Dussehra festivals in India.
The Ramleela Maidan was created in the early 1930s as a ground to host the annual Ramleela, a performance that depicts the epic of Ramayana, where the legendary king Rama defeats the evil king Ravana and saves his wife, Sita. Rama’s victory over Ravana is celebrated as Dussehra, part of the larger Navratri festival. In the 1800s, Hindu soldiers serving in the army of the Mughal Empire would host the Ramleela at the Yamuna River floodplains behind the Red Fort. Today, the Ramleela Maidan hosts the same historic celebration, a sight to behold, near the historic Delhi Gate of the old city. Once a pond before being reclaimed as a public ground, the Ramleela Maidan still has a small pond within its premises as a symbol of its history.
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