New Delhi hits a century

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Galaxy, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    New Delhi hits a century

    Mon Dec 12 2011, 01:51 hrs | New Delhi

    A 100 years ago, the capital emerged from under the shadows of the ageless Purani Dilli, which saw many a dynasty rise and fall during its centuries-old history

    A 100 years ago, when the British shifted the capital of a fledgling country to an ageless metropolis, they laid the foundation for a city whose influence on modern India would be as towering as its many monuments. Much has changed about New Delhi in the last 100 years. And yet, if Sir Edwin Lutyens, the British architect of modern Delhi, were to take a walk through the city today, he’d find it strangely familiar and irrevocably different.

    When Lutyens built the Viceroy’s Palace (Rashtrapati Bhavan), little did he envisage that a century later, his masterpiece would become the cornerstone of India’s equally vast democracy. So where did it all began? Who is the architect of modern Delhi? Was it right to christen New Delhi as Lutyens’ Delhi when other brilliant architects too helped build the city? Even as the debate continues, it is the blueprint that Lutyens drew up with his friend Herbert Baker that made the city much of what it is today.

    Sir Edwin Lutyens was appointed as a consultant in 1912 with a brief to prepare a Master Plan as the head of the Delhi Town Planning Committee. Lutyens together with Herbert Baker created a unique urban form to reflect the aura of the empire. Initially, as the concept of a ‘new’ Delhi developed, the Viceroy’s Palace was given an enormous scale and needed a prominent position.

    Questions arose whether the capital would be better placed near the axis of the Coronation Pillar in North Delhi. But several surveys showed the area to be flood-prone and finally on June, 9, 1912, it was decided that it would be located on Raisina Hill. And from this focal point, the city expanded. The core town planning idea was to link the new capital with the older city. The Central Vista links the Viceroy’s House at one end of the King’s way (Rajpath) to the north gate of Purana Qila. A perpendicular road, Queen’s way (now Janpath) runs from Connaught Place, the commercial hub in the north, and ends at a circle south of Rajpath.

    Eventually, India Gate, a 138-feet high arch, to commemorate the soldiers who died in World War I, again designed by Lutyens in 1921, would come to occupy the prime spot on the cityscape.

    A network of streets was planned between Connaught Place and Rajpath, which was mirrored on the south too, making allowances for existing buildings like Safdarjung’s Tomb, Lodi Garden group of monuments, etc.

    The new capital took 18 years (1912 to 1930) to build and was planned to accommodate 60,000 people. New Delhi was inaugural-ted on February 13, 1931 by Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India.

    The city of Delhi has undergone many radical changes in its topography, topology and demographics. As Delhi opened its bosom to all, towering highrises to house its ever burgeoning population began sprouting up matching heads with the Rashtrapati Bhavan that Lutyens had envisaged to be standing tall, lording over all of British India.

    The high seat of democracy

    Viceroy’s Palace

    Then

    Inaugurated in 1931, the Viceroy’s Palace, meant to be the residence of the Viceroy and Governor General of India, became the focal point of New Delhi. Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect of the majestic building, had to make numerous trips between India and England to oversee the construction of the Presidential Palace which took 19 years. The Viceroy’s Palace has 340 well-decorated rooms including the Durbar Hall that was designed to host all official functions. Since the budget for constructing this monumental residence was reduced, the size of the building had to be scaled down, but Lutyens maintained its grandeur. Indian architectural influences can be seen in the use of red and buff sandstone and decorative elements such as jaalis (windows), chhatris (canopies) and chhajjas (parapets).

    Central Vista

    It was decided that the Viceroy’s Palace would be linked to Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) by a pathway to be known as Rajpath (King’s Way) or the Central Vista. It leads from the National Stadium past India Gate, Vijay Chowk, the North and South Blocks of the Secretariat building converging at Viceroy’s Palace.

    Now

    Post-Independence, the new Governor-General continued to stay here till he was replaced by the President of India in 1950 after which the Viceroy’s House was renamed the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Today, the Presidential Palace can only be seen with official permission and only the Durbar Hall, Ashoka Hall, Cabinet Room, State Dining Room, Marble Hall, Museum and a gallery for children are open to public. Every Saturday, between 10.35am and 11.10 am in winter and from 8.30am to 9.15am in summer, the President’s bodyguards hold a changing of the guard ceremony, which can be viewed from outside the gates. The 13-acre Mughal Gardens inside the Bhavan was designed on the insistence of Lady Hardinge, wife of Lord Hardinge, to replicate the gardens built by the Mughals. It is known for more than 250 varieties of roses including the Benkinsian Rose.

    The two-mile long Central Vista continues be the center of the city and is a high security zone. The grand Republic Day parade is held on Rajpath every year.

    A gate to city turned tribute to martyrs

    India Gate

    Then

    Initially it was planned as a gateway to Delhi for those entering the palatial grounds of the Viceroy’s Palace. The design was to imitate the Mughal style of creating impressive gateways to mark the entry and exit points of the city. However, when during the World War I a large number of Indian soldiers fell in battle for the British Empire, it was decided that a War Memorial was desirable, and thus India Gate was turned into the All India War Memorial. The foundation stone of the structure was laid on February 10, 1921, by the Duke of Connaught and it was completed in 1931. British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens took inspiration from the Arch de Triumphe in Paris, France, which India Gate is often compared to. At a height of 138 feet, India Gate is built in the shape of a huge gateway mounted on a low red sandstone base. On both sides is inscribed INDIA, flanked by MCM and to the right, XIX. The two columns of India Gate are inscribed with over 90,000 names of Indian and British Soldiers who served in the British Army and were martyred during the First World War and the Afghan War of 1919.

    Now

    The memorial was later inscribed with the names of soldiers who received the Param Veer Chakra Gallantry Award and soldiers martyred in the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the Kargil War. However, in 1970, an eternal flame was installed underneath the arch in honour of the martyred soldiers. This eternally-lit shrine is made of black marble and a rifle has been placed on it in a standing position with the helmet of a soldier atop paying homage to those unknown soldiers. ‘Amar Jawan’ is seen inscribed in pure gold which means ‘Immortal Warriors’ on every face of the shrine. There are three flags that represent the three Indian military forces Army, Navy, and Air Force and a soldier from each force guards the gate 24x7.

    Connaught Place

    Then


    It was proposed that a commercial hub be planned that would link the new city with the old. Connaught Place was designed by R T Russell. The construction of the complex began in 1929 and continued over five years. Connaught Place’s Georgian architecture is modeled after the Royal Crescent in Bath, England. A two-storied structure with an open colonnade, it almost makes a complete circle. It was designed with two concentric circles, creating the Inner Circle, Middle Circle and the Outer Circle and seven radial roads.

    Now

    It was no surprise that the Delhi Metro while planning its network decided to make Rajiv Chowk (the official name for Connaught Place) its nerve centre. Despite several malls and commercial centres mushrooming across the Capital, CP continues to be the buzzing city centre. The empty block of the Inner Circle was filled up in the late 1970s with the construction of an underground market, Palika Bazaar, a first in Delhi, at the junction point.

    New Delhi hits a century - Indian Express
     
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  3. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    BTW, It is 100 years of New Delhi (Nai Dilli) not Delhi (Dilli). British India shifted capital from Kolkata to Raisina. Lutyens Delhi happened.
    Anyway, Slaves celebrating British darbar's Delhi centenary. :laugh:
     
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  4. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    lol 100 :pound:

    My family has been living in delhi before the angrez and there antics.
     
  5. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    We should thanks Goras for giving us Delhi as capital and its architecture(only raj buildings)..
     
  6. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    lol.............................
    your statment shows your ingnorance on so many levels..........
    delhi was capital of ;arge part of india for a long time before goras came
    as for architecture we have our own architecture
    and honestly the way our leaders behave once they reach delhi i will rather have english for ensuring that delhi remains capital of india.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Let us celebrate our history.

    We cannot wash away the past.

    It does not matter who did what!

    If we could wash away history, then it would be a different issue.

    It is only bigoted Pakistan that has re-written their history and forgotten their past.

    Just a glimpse of Pak history:

    Imagine 'pre historic vision of Pakistan'!

    Pre-historic Pakistan? :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
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  8. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    1911-2011: Hundred Years Of Transition

    1911-2011: Hundred Years Of Transition


    Perhaps the most evocative symbol of what Delhi is, and what it is not, can be seen in the nerve centre of the city, at India Gate. The splendid sandstone canopy, built by the British to commemorate the Indians who gave their lives for Britain in the World Wars, housed a statue of King George V. That, thought our erstwhile rulers, was the best use of the space. A few years after they left in 1947, the rulers of independent India rightly decided to remove the replica of an alien king. Except that they have not been able to decide till now what to replace it with! The canopy remains empty even today.

    This ‘emptiness’ is a metaphor of sorts for Delhi itself. It is not what it once was. It does not know what it wants to become. It has changed beyond recognition . But it does not know how, why or to what purpose. It exists, but is not sure what it means to those who live in it. It has the certainty of space, but the ambivalence of uncertain content. It is a city in undefined transition.

    This was not so a hundred years ago.Then Delhi — now called Purani Dilli — did not extend beyond the protecting walls of Shahjahanabad, the city Shahjahan built as his capital in 1638. Outside the Ajmeri and Delhi Gates were green fields. The population of Delhi in 1911 — about one lakh — was less than that of a provincial city like Lucknow.

    But even so, the city meant something to its denizens. Zauq, the great poet of 19th century Delhi and the literary mentor of the last Mughal king, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was offered a rather lucrative job in the Deccan. He was tempted, but finally declined the offer with the wry comment: Kaun jaaye par ab Zauq, Dilli ki galiyan chhod kar. (Who, after all, O Zauq, can leave the alleyways of Delhi.) His great contemporaries, Mirza Ghalib and Momin, would have probably reacted in similar fashion. The city then had a delightfully homogenous seduction , expressed through its culinary tastes, its sartorial choices, the all-encompassing Urdu tehzibiyat, and even its own brand of humour. Has Delhi lost some of this definitive identity in the journey of the last hundred years? Has it merely become a vast utilitarian space, where its citizens live, work, struggle, eat and sleep, without a true sense of belonging? If this is so, part of the reason must lie in the unprecedented growth of the city.

    In my view, no other city in the world would have expanded from a population of less than a hundred thousand to 22 million in a hundred years.

    It was a spontaneous explosion, beyond the imagination of the most imaginative municipal planner. Lutyens’ New Delhi was conceived as a babu-neta city. Its boundaries were defined by the Yamuna in the east, the Ridge in the west, Lodi Garden in the south and Tilak Marg in the north. When the first traffic lights were installed in the 1950s, people laughed because there were such few cars.

    Today, Delhi extends for miles beyond the Yamuna and the Ridge, includes all of Gurgaon, and considers Sonepat to be a suburb. It has more cars and scooters than all the other metropolises of India put together. Like some giant boa constrictor it has ingested entire villages in its appetite for space. It is no longer a city. It has morphed into the National Capital Region.

    In spite of this amorphous urban sprawl, some characteristics have not changed. As the capital of the republic, New Delhi was, and remains, the seat of political power. For the same reason it was, and continues to be, the babu capital . The same political wheeling-dealing that defined it in 1947 defines it today , except that the scale has changed.

    The unsustainable size of the city is also responsible for a change in the notion of its loyalties. Everybody who lives here claims to be a Delhiwallah, but actually professes loyalty mostly to that portion of the city which anchors his or her world. Like a balloon inflated beyond its capacity, the city has exploded into hundreds of habitats. Each is selfcontained . The parts are meant to constitute a whole, but the whole is not defined by them. Delhi has ceased to be one undifferentiated space. It is a chaotic collation of several sub-cities congealed together as one space only for postal or municipal reasons.

    This city of permanently malleable space has acquired other new features. The monopoly of one elite, defined by old money and inherited status, has ceased to exist. New money has an inyour-face assertion in all kinds of improbable places, including east and west Delhi.The consequences of our PM's financial alchemy two decades ago can be seen in the mushrooming malls, the exotic eateries, the foreign brands from cars to condoms, and the pride of the city, the Metro.

    In many ways, Delhi mirrors the inchoate transition of the country it leads. From a Punjabi-dominated city after the advent of the refugees following Partition , it has acquired the cosmopolitan pan-Indianism of the nation. A bit of every part of India can be found here. In the manner in which it is structured, the institutional inequalities of our country also find reflection. Lutyens’ New Delhi is an over-pampered oasis; the rest of Delhi must largely fend for itself, coping daily with municipal inadequacies , while the disconsolate old city has become a commercial cesspool.

    In this city, where the basics of water and power cannot be assured to the bulk of its citizens, there is the same resilience of survivability which defines the rest of India. It is an irrepressible energy, where people endure the travails of today in the hope that tomorrow will be better. For all the avalanche of municipal concerns, the hope and aspirational energy concentrated in the capital echoes that of an entire nation in transition.

    In the business of getting ahead, against the greatest odds, some things have fallen off the radar screen.

    Culturally , the capital is sorely lacking in basic infrastructure. Its most prestigious auditorium — the Siri Fort — lacks even proper green rooms, and the home of its most famous poet, Ghalib, was until recently occupied by a coal vendor and a kabariwallah. The democratization of culture, where a great deal seems to be happening, has not led to a cultural renaissance , where quality and focus replace quantitative mediocrity.

    As Delhi celebrates the centenary of its return as the political fulcrum of India , the city displays a new sense of power and assertion. But has it as yet, like not so long ago, acquired a soul of its own? Or is its profile, a bit like that empty space under the canopy of India Gate, present in its absence?

    1911-2011: Hundred years of transition - TimesofIndia
     
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