New Delhi: With the lighting of funeral pyre by his foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya, one of the most popular prime ministers of the nation, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was cremated at Smriti Sthal on the banks of river Yamuna. His body was brought there after a five-kilometre-long funeral procession led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A galaxy of top leaders, including BJP president Amit Shah and all the BJP chief ministers, had also joined the procession. 

Showcasing the stature of the former prime minister, leaders from across the political spectrum gathered at the venue designated for performing the last rites of VVIPs, including presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers.

The leaders present at Smriti Sthal included President Ramnath Kovind, vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akal Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Several senior ministers of the Union Cabinet, including defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and textiles minister Smriti Irani could be seen making arrangements at the venue. The authorities at the venue were also trying to erect a canopy over the pyre for protection from rain, but it had to be left midway due to the shortage of time.

More than 10,000 people were present at Smriti Sthal and the police had to stop entry as the venue ran out of space. As a result, a large number of people had to be stopped outside. People were jostling for space just to get a glimpse of the late leader as the last rites were being performed in a highly-charged atmosphere amid loud chants of 'Atalji Amar Rahein'.

Earlier, the body of the former prime minister was brought to the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg from his official residence at 6A Krishna Menon Marg. 

Prime Minister Modi broke protocol when he decided to walk all along the procession along with party chief Amit Shah and all chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states.