THE SECRETARIATS

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Location: Delhi
The Secretariats Are: Old Secretariat and North & South Blocks
Designed By: E. Montague Thomas (Old Secretariat) , Edwin Lutyens (North & South Blocks)


Old Secretariat
The Old Secretariat, designed by E. Montague Thomas, stands along the Mahatma Gandhi Road. It was built (on the double) in 1912 and housed British Government offices till they shifted to North and South blocks on Raisina Hill. It now houses the headquarters of the Government of the National Capital Region of Delhi and the Delhi Assembly.

The North & South Block
North Block and South Blocks are the two secretariats situated on both sides of Raisina Hill - facing each other with a huge square or plaza known as "Vijay Chowk" in between. These long classical buildings, topped by embellished domes, were designed by Herbert Baker and were inspired by Christopher Wren's Royal Naval College at Greenwich. They are also pretty similar to the imperial edifices Baker erected in Pretoria.

The Monumental Secretariat Buildings
The primary objective of building New Delhi was to show the 'brown native' the superiority, power and arrogance of his white masters. Just like the entire New Delhi, the Secretariats too are made of rose pink and butter-coloured sandstone. Dark pink sandstone used for the plinths lends the monuments gravity, while the butter sandstone of the walls, domes and towers gives them a light, airy appearance.

The towers were originally designed to be twice the height of the buildings and to act as sentinels guarding the way to the inner sanctum. Their height was reduced and with it their impact. The domes are decorated with lotus motifs and elephants, while the Mughal designs inspires the north and south gateways

In the Great Court between the Secretariats there are four Dominion Columns donated by the government of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. A bronze ship sailing east, symbolizing the maritime and mercantile supremacy of the British Empire crowns each of the columns. In the centre of the court is the Jaipur Column of red sandstone topped with a white egg, bronze lotus and six-pointed glass star of India. Across the entrance to the Great Court is a 205m wrought iron screen.

The Government Workplace
The secretariat buildings are now offices of the Government of India and one need to have a visitor's pass to enter. The Home Affairs and Finance ministries are situated in the North Block, while the External Affairs ministry is in the South Block. The great open space at the base of the slope is called Vijay Chowk or the "Victory Square". The Beating of Retreat Ceremony takes place over here on January 29th each year.



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