Building Of A New Capital City
The site chosen for the new British capital was situated in the wilderness of Raisina, south of Shahjahanabad. A team of architects, led by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker designed the new city, after visiting several places of architectural interest in India. They felt that the capital should be "neither Indian nor English nor Roman, but Imperial". Even though they claimed to be unimpressed by Indian architecture, their buildings bear evidence to the contrary. New Delhi took 20 years to build and cost 15 million pounds.
The new capital was inaugurated in 1931. The 340-roomed Viceregal Lodge was raised atop Raisina Hill. It is now the presidential palace and known as Rashtrapati Bhawan. Covering an area of over 200,000-sq-feet, it is larger than Versailles. At the center of the main court in front of Rashtrapati Bhavan stands Jaipur Column, a gift from the Maharaja of Jaipur. It rises to a height of 145m. All in all this monument is an imposing structure and a tourist's delight.
The Rajpath axis and the symmetry of India Gate, a World War I memorial, accentuate the strength of its location. The Rashtrapati Bhawan also has the enormous Mughal Gardens and a spacious plaza Vijay Chowk, at the foot of the palace. Lutyen's city is characterised by wide, tree-lined avenues, parks and palaces built for important Indian princes. Baker designed the North and South Blocks, which flank the palace, and the circular Legislative Assembly, presently known as Parliament House.
Inside The President's House
The most remarkable feature of the House that can be spotted even standing a kilometre away, is the huge neo-Buddhist copper dome that rises over a vast colonnaded front. Beneath the dome is the circular Durbar Hall 22.8m in diameter. The coloured marbles used in the hall were brought from all parts of India.
The Viceroy's throne, ceremonially placed in this chamber, faced the main entrance and commanded a view along the great axial vista of 'Kingsway', now known as Rajpath. Presently the hall is the venue of all official ceremonies such as the swearing in of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Members of Parliament. It is in this very chamber that the President annually confers the Arjuna Awards for Excellence.
The columns at the front entrance have bells carved into their capitals. The principal floor comprises a magnificent series of state apartments. The State Drawing Room is barrel-vaulted and plainly treated with domestic fireplaces. The State Ballroom is enriched with old English mirror glass. The State Library is based on the form of Wren's St Stephen's, Walbrook. The State Dining Room is lined with teak panelling enriched with the star of India.
The concept of Imperial order and hierarchy pass through the entire house. Marble staircases flanking the Durbar Hall provide access to the private apartments above. There are 54 bedrooms together with additional accommodation for guests. The Durbar Hall served as a museum for several years till the building that now houses the National Museum was completed.
The Mughal Gardens
To the west of the house overlooks the beautiful Mughal Gardens, terraced at three levels, designed by Lutyens. A series of ornamental fountains, walls, gazebos and screens combine with scores of trees, flowers and shrubs to create a paradise so delightful that Indians called the garden 'God's own Heaven'. It is open to the public during the spring season only. more...
Coming from India Gate, the Parliament is situated on the right of Rashtrapati Bhavan, and the Secretariats on the left. The India Gate lies towards the east of Rajpath. Also known as 'Kingsway', Rajpath is the venue of the Republic day celebrations each year. It is flanked on both sides by ponds and lush green lawns. Vijay Chowk in front of the Rashtrapati Bhavan leads onto Rajpath, which is lit at night and is truly a breathtaking sight with its gardens and fountains.