Luyten’s Delhi An exquisite piece by a master architect

The eighth or the last city in Delhi was built by the British. On 12 December, 1911, when King George V announced that the center of government would shift from Calcutta, longtime capital of British rule in India, to Delhi. Lord Hardinge (1910-16) chose a site to the south-west of Shahjahānābād, and Edward Luytens and Herbert Baker drew up plans for a magnificent city that took years to complete. The wide, carefully planned streets of New Delhi, the great monuments, and the imposing government buildings spoke eloquently of the imperial impulse to dominate and order. The Imperial complex, consisting of the Viceregal Lodge, the North and South Blocks of the Secretariat, and a Council Chamber which now houses India’s Parliament. To the north and west of the central area which linked this complex with the Memorial Arch, the residential areas were developed for Government staff. The shopping centre of Connaught Place was also built to the north of this access.
The India Gate or All India War Memorial on the Rājpat is a memorial to commemorate the undivided British Indian Army who died in the World War I (1914-21). It was also designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built between 1917 to 1931 is 42 metre tall bears the names of 13,218 martyrs. The Rashtrapati Bhavan or President House, built in 1919 to 1925 lies towards the western end of Rājpath. Under the British it was designed as the British Viceroy’s residence. Built of red and buff sandstone housed 340 well decorated rooms with durbar hall, Ashoka hall, State dining room and large number of guest suites and the private apartments. The four-storeyed Secretariat house important ministries of Government of India is divided into two blocks- North and South. It is designed by Herbert Baker and accommodate 4,000 rooms. The premises included formal gardens with water fountains, pillars and porticos with vaulted ceilings. The style of architecture is classical, where each block is crowned by an imposing central dome. The Rajpath is a 3.2 km long Avenue which runs from Rashtrapati Bhawan through Vijay Chowk, India Gate through National Stadium. It is one of India’s most prominent displays of power and unity, the Republic Day Parade held each year on 26th January which commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into force. It is lined on both sides by huge lawns, canals and rows of trees. The city had two important churches. The Anglican Cathedral was located at a short distance of the north of the Viceregal Lodge and the Secretariat. The Catholic Church, built by Jesuit missionaries, was about 2 km to the north of the Secretariat. Two hospitals and other schools were also located in this area. The principal of segregation by rank was followed in location, size and design of the residential buildings. They are large, single story houses situated amidst extensive lawns. Most of them were demolished during the 1970s and 1980s to be replaced by 4-story structure containing flats. Broad tree-lined streets, diagonal avenues and green roundabouts where the streets and avenues meet in another important feature of New Delhi. It was a green and uncongested city. The greenery helped to reduce the severity of Delhi’s hot summers and cold winters, and also helped to keep pollution of air and water low.
Being the political headquarters of the British and now the Indian govt., Lutyen’s Delhi is a classical and dominant example of British authority in India. Come and go on journey with us into the past to get a glimpse of what was the might and strength of the British empire.

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