New Delhi, December 12
The political and cultural capital of several empires, Delhi today celebrated 100 years of its re-emergence as the capital of modern India.
Even though Delhi is wrapped in centuries of history, it was the British Empire that gave the city -- also called Lutyens’ Delhi -- its modern-day capital and seat of power, New Delhi. It was proclaimed as the capital of British Raj on December 12, 1911, shifting from Kolkata, by then Emperor of India George V, thereby returning to the historic city its lost glory.
And with a view to introduce people to New Delhi’s rich heritage, the Delhi Government and cultural agencies have hosted an array of events, exhibitions, cultural performances and other festivals that give a generous peep into its exquisite history.
“The foundation of the British Capital was first laid in December 1911 by two leading 20th century British architects, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. However, it was not just Lutyens’ work but that of many other unsung architects that made New Delhi what it is today,” said AGK Menon, convener of the Delhi chapter of the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Lutyens laid out the central administrative area. At the heart of the city, he built the Rashtrapati Bhavan, four bungalows inside the President's Estate, India Gate and the Hyderabad and Baroda palaces at India Gate. Sir Robert Tor Russell built Connaught Place, the Eastern and Western Courts, Teen Murti House, Safdarjung Airport, National Stadium and over 4,000 government houses.
The Secretariat building which houses various ministries of the Government of India, including the Prime Minister Office was designed by Herbert Baker. He also designed the impressive North Block and South Block.
E. Montague Thomas designed and built the first Secretariat building of New Delhi, which set the style for the bungalows that followed. The other bungalows of New Delhi are the work of architects like WH Nicholls, CG and FB Blomfield, Walter Sykes George, Arthur Gordon Shoosmith and Henry Medd.
It was due to Lord Hardinge that Lutyens’ Delhi got its landmark roundabouts in the central region. Lutyens had initially designed the streets at right angles. WR Mustoe, director of horticulture, was responsible for the roadside planting work on New Delhi'savenues. In fact, Mustoe and Walter Sykes George landscaped and planted Lutyens' Mughal Garden.
Though there was no official ceremony to mark the occasion today, a book on the history of seven cities of Delhi ‘Red Fort to Raisina’, edited by JP Losty, Union Minister Salman Khursheed, conservation architect Ratish Nanda and ‘Seminar’ publisher Malvika Singh was released by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
‘Dastann-e-Dilli', an exhibition on the city, will be inaugurated by Dikshit and Lt-Governor Tejinder Khanna on Wednesday. Organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the exhibition will showcase the culture of Delhi through photographs and lithographs from the ancient to modern times. The inauguration of the exhibition will be followed by ‘Mehfil-e-Dilli’ with performances by renowned Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan and a Thumri recital by Kumud Jha Diwan.
The ‘Dilli Ke Pakwan Festival' is already running at Baba Kharag Singh Marg. The national capital will also host year-long celebrations beginning January to showcase its rich cultural heritage.