There was tight security at the Red Fort in Delhi ahead of an address by the prime minister. Violent attacks on this day are often launched by separatist militants or Maoist rebels.
Sixty years ago thousands died during the horror of partition. But on Wednesday, people listened to friendship songs, sung by Indian and Pakistani singers, at the Wagah border.
Pakistani and Indian nationals gathered together on Wednesday to light candles for peace between their two nations in a rare display of unity.
In his address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the country to work harder to free itself from the shackles of poverty, ignorance and disease.
Amid much pomp and pageantry, the prime minister said that India had moved forward in the battles against poverty, ignorance and disease.
"We must not be overconfident," Mr Singh said. "We have a long march ahead. We need at least a decade of hard work and of sustained growth to realise our dreams."
The prime minister's speech looked to the future as well as the past, referring to the "pressing need to improve schools, many of which are run-down and poorly staffed".
Among the great and the good attending the celebrations were the Congress Party President, Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul. He is tipped by some to be a future prime minister.
It was a day full of national pride all over the country. Here a schoolboy, dressed as Indian freedom fighter Subash Chandra Bose, salutes in Bangalore.
A heavy security cover was in place in Indian-administered Kashmir, with more than 100 people detained on Wednesday amid threats by militants to disrupt celebrations.
On independence day, those who fought for independence - known as freedom fighters - are venerated, with pictures on display in many parts of the country.