On 15 August 1947 India became independent from the British Empire following the Independence Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and his message of nonviolent resistance. The handover of power was overseen by Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India and raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi in honour of the celebrations.
These photos show the events surrounding the first Independence Day in 1947.
Lord Mountbatten discusses his plan for the partition of India and transfer of power with Indian leaders at Viceroy's House, New Delhi, on 2 June 1947:
All India Congress Committee votes for Partition of India, New Delhi, on 15 June 1947. Seen here are Jawaharlal Nehru, Govind Ballabh Pant and Dr Rajendra Prasad:
Mahatma Gandhi said:
“From tomorrow [15th August] we shall be delivered from the bondage of the British rule. But from midnight today, India will be partitioned too. While, therefore, tomorrow will be a day of rejoicing, it will be a day of sorrow as well. It will throw a heavy burden of responsibility upon us. Let us pray to God that He may give us strength to bear it .... ”
Here is Jawaharlal Nehru delivering the 'Tryst with Destiny' speech in the Constitution Assembly of India, 14-15 August 1947:
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”
- 'A Tryst with Destiny'
This photo shows Jawaharlal Nehru being sworn in as First Prime Minister of Independent India on 15 August 1947:
Below is the administration of the oath of office to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as Deputy Prime Minister of India by President Dr Rajendra Prasad on 15 August 1947:
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's “Tribute to Those Who Sacrificed Their Lives in Freedom Struggle” in an article in The Bombay Chronicle on 15 August 1947:
“Today when we are witnessing the fulfillment of our life’s ambition and participating in the victory that has crowned the nation’s struggle for freedom, it is our first duty to pay homage to the memory of those whose sacrifices have contributed so much to this glorious conclusion of that struggle. Let the nation honour their memory in the rejoicing which freedom has brought in its train."
Seen here are Independence Day celebrations in front of South Block, New Delhi:
Independence Day celebrations in front of Princess Park (now August Kranti Maidan), New Delhi:
Independence Day celebrations in South and North Blocks, New Delhi:
Independence Day celebrations gathering in front of Parliament Building, New Delhi:
This photo shows Lord Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten leaving Viceroy’s House (now Rashtrapathi Bhawan), New Delhi:
Lord Mountbatten declared, “At this historic moment let us not forget all that India owes to Mahatma Gandhi -- the architect of her freedom through non-violence. We miss his presence here today and would have him know how he is in our thoughts.”
This image shows Jawaharlal Nehru accompanied by Lord Mountbatten and Edwina Mountbatten at India Gate, New Delhi:
Seen here is Jawaharlal Nehru taking salute of three Armed Forces at India Gate, New Delhi. Defence Minister Baldev Singh is also in the picture:
The photo below shows the Parade of Armed Forces on Rajpath:
The speech of Jawaharlal Nehru at the Red Fort, 16 August 1947:
“We have gathered here on a historic occasion at this ancient fort to win back what was ours. This flag does not symbolize the triumph of individuals or the Congress but the triumph of the whole country. The free flag of India is the symbol of freedom and democracy not only for India but for the whole world. India, Asia and the world must rejoice on this great day.”
Below is the unfurling of National Flag by Jawaharlal Nehru at Red Fort, Delhi, on 16 August 1947:
Here you can see the departure of British Troops from India (Bombay Docks):
Below you can see the newspaper coverage of the Independence Day celebrations:
Here is the reporting of The Times of India about America's Pledge of Friendship to India and Pakistan:
Independence Day Celebrations in Lucknow in The Pioneer, 16 August 1947:
Independence Day Celebrations in Madras shown in The Hindu, 17 August 1947:
Reporting from The Times of India about greetings from China and Bangkok:
Reporting from The Times of India about greetings from Portugal:
Since 1947, Independence Day has been celebrated in India on 15 August. As part of the celebrations, every year the Prime Minister hoists the flag above the Red Fort, just as Jawaharlal Nehru did.
Role — Conceived By: Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan, Director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
Role — Supervised By: Dr. N. Balakrishan, Deputy Director, NMML.
Role — Consultant: Ms. Deepa Bhatnagar, Head, Research & Publications Division, NMML.
Role — Curator: Mr. A. Selvam, Research Officer, Oral History Division, NMML.