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It's 100 years since Delhi regained power and glory

Discussion in 'National Politics' started by ManuSankar, Dec 11, 2011.

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  1. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

    May 31, 2011
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    ''We are pleased to announce to Our People that on the advice of Our Ministers tendered after consultation with Our Governor-General in Council, We have decided upon the transfer of the seat of the Government of India from Calcutta to the ancient Capital Delhi....'' With these words on December 12, 1911, King George V gave a sensational surprise to the people of Delhi.


    In one stroke, the announcement made by King George V at Coronation Durbar restored the lost glory of Delhi as the traditional seat of power and capital of the subcontinent before the arrival of British on the political landscape of the country.

    The imperial durbar of 1911 was a grand affair symbolising the pinnacle of British Raj. Around 20,000 people worked for almost a year for the event, turning Delhi into a fortress. Hundreds of tents spread over 40 sq km came up to shelter the royal entourage, officers of the army and the civil services, and other dignitaries, and of course, the 562 Indian princes.

    However, few know that the decision to announce the shifting of Indian capital to Delhi from Calcutta was a closely guarded secret. The decision, nevertheless, has a significant place in the annals of Indian history.

    Bhagwan Josh, Professor of Indian History at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), describes the change of capital as a “watershed†in Indian history. “It was for first time they (the British) climbed Red Fort, the symbol of seat of power in the Indian subcontinent and beheld their empire from there,†he told Deccan Herald.

    Converting Delhi into an imperial capital was a challenging affair. The powerful British Raj in India took 20 long years to unveil ‘New Delhi’ in 1931 with its imposing buildings, which continue to be epicentre of power in independent India.

    Several locations in Delhi were considered and rejected to build the new imperial capital in India, before Lord Hardinge, then Viceroy of India, decided to build the magnificent government buildings at Raisina village, a hill area.

    The architects

    By 1912, the architects who would design New Delhi, had been commissioned. Edwin Landseer Lutyens was given the task with Herbert Baker as his collaborator; the former would be the architect of the overall design of New Delhi and of Government House (later Viceregal House and now Rashtrapati Bhawan) while Baker was given charge of the Secretariats (North and South Blocks) and Council (now Parliament) House.

    If building a new capital for British Empire in India was one of its biggest endeavours, the Viceregal House was the most ambitious architectural labour. To house the Viceroy, the British wanted to have an imposing structure symbolising the might of the Empire’s power. Keeping the imperial mission in mind, Lutyens decided to build the Viceregal House on Raisina Hill, towering above the Capital.

    The massive structure with 340 rooms, 227 columns and 2.4 km of corridors standing in an estate of 330 acres was one of the biggest engineering challenges of its time. Close to 29,000 workers toiled for eight years to build it.

    The Secretariat with its two arms — North and South Blocks that would house the British bureaucracy–was the second most imposing and commanding building of the new Capital.

    Parliament House was another architectural marvel of the time. Commissioned much later, its foundation stone was laid on February 12, 1921.

    It's 100 years since Delhi regained power and glory
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