New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) Soul-stirring martial tunesand solemn drum beats reverberated in the air while themajestic Raisina Hills was lit up coinciding with the sunsetas part of the Beating the Retreat ceremony here today.
The ceremony, which marks the conclusion of RepublicDay celebrations, saw bands from three armed services in theircolourful ensembles playing tunes like ''Indian Star'', ''Marchof the Mariners'', ''Amar Senani'', ''Sare Jahan Se Achcha'' andtwo new compositions -- ''Gaj Raj'' by Captain Mahendra Das and''Rashmi'' by Captain Khem Chand.
In a departure from previous years, Indian tunes werethe flavour this year. As many as 19 of the 25 performanceshave been composed by Indian musicians and just four populartunes by foreign musicians have been retained, interspersedtwice with ''Fanfare'', a collage by buglers and the ''Drummers''Call'', a traditional performance by only drummers.
Other than the ever-popular ''Sare Jahan Se Achcha'' and''Abide with Me'', a hymn written by W H Monk, the rest of thetunes were played after a gap of at least a decade.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansariand Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the ceremony thatsaw 12 military bands, 15 pipes and drums bands, 72 buglersand 12 trumpeters from various regiments of the Army takingpart along with four bands each of the Navy and Indian AirForce.
This year, it was conducted by IAF and Wing CommanderJaychandran was the principal conductor for all the bands.
President Patil, the chief guest of the function andsupreme commander of the armed forces, came from RashtrapatiBhawan preceded by mounted presidential bodyguards at VijayChowk, where her arrival was sounded by trumpeters, 38 buglersand 38 echo buglers followed by playing of national anthem.
The grand ceremony performed ahead of the sunset wasattended by a large audience amid elaborate security andtraffic arrangements. The crowd enjoyed the performance to thehilt, breaking into applause again and again.
The band members, in their reds, olive greens, orangeand navy blues, played the tunes for an hour before the flagwas lowered amid retreat by buglers and the RashtrapatiBhawan, the Parliament House, the North and South Blocks alongwith other official buildings in Raisina Hills lit up.
As many as 32 main retreaters, playing bugles, and sixtrumpeters performed on the Rajpath at Vijay Chowk while 10retreaters followed from North Block and South Block. Fourretreaters were deployed on the Vayu Bhavan and Krishi Bhavan.
The first tune to be played was ''Indian Star'' composedby Subedar Sohan Lal. The Army''s 15 pipes and drums bands alsoplayed ''Sherpa'', a quick march tune; ''Channa Bilauri'', atroop; ''Jhelum'' and ''Konkan Sundari'', two other quick marchtunes, ''Monymusk'', a strathspey tune; ''The High Road toLinton'', a reel tune and ''Pholoon Ki Ghati'', a quick marchtune. (More) PTI SDG