12 December 2011

Delhi Turns 100, Adds Another Chapter

The political and cultural seat of many empires over the centuries, Delhi will add another chapter to its glorious history on Monday, marking 100 years of its re-emergence as India's capital.

It was on December 12, 1911, that then Emperor of India George V proclaimed Delhi as the capital of the British Raj, shifting from Kolkata, thereby returning to the city its lost glory.
Delhi Turns 100, Adds Another Chapter

The centenary of the establishment of New Delhi will be marked by year-long celebrations, being planned by the Delhi government and other cultural agencies like the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Special souvenirs will be released, and specially planned exhibitions showcased in the city.

A book on the history of seven cities of Delhi and detailing the account of how the present city was constructed will be released by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Do you know that Rajpath that overlooks the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan was once called Kingsway?

It is not Rajpath alone that has over the years been renamed in Lutyens Delhi -- once the capital of the British empire -- but several other English names in Rajdhani Dilli have made way for Indian ones.

As the Indian government set about making Delhi its capital, many roads were named and renamed after leaders of modern India, in the process of erasing the memory of the British empire.

Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard of the country that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan through Vijay Chowk to India Gate, right up to the National Stadium, was once called Kingsway.

Likewise, the Motilal Nehru Marg, which houses the likes of the Chief Minister of Delhi, was once called York Road when Edwin Lutyens started building New Delhi in 1912.

New Delhi, the capital of the modern India, turns 100 today and a lot of things have changed in the city, the names of roads being just one of them.

Teen Murti Marg, that houses the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, was once known as Roberts Road and the present day Rafi Marg was known during the British Raj as Old Mill Road.

The original name of Tees January Marg, which got its name after Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 at Gandhi Smriti, is Albukerd Marg.

While the erstwhile Canning Road is now called Madhavrao Scindia Marg, after the Congress leader who died tragically in 2001, G B Road is known as Swami Shradhananda Road.

However, the Connaught Place, the centre of the British capital, retains the original names of its roads, with Chelmsford Road, Minto Road, and Hailey Road yet to be renamed.

Besides, a photo exhibition on the city of monuments will be among a series of events that the government agencies have lined up to mark the centenary year.

Though there will be no official ceremony to mark the occasion, Dikshit will release the book in the evening.

'Dastann-e-Dilli' -- an exhibition on the city, will be also inaugurated by the CM, Sheila Dikshit and Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna on Wednesday.

The exhibition will chronicle the culture of Delhi -- right from its ancient days to the modern period -- where both the heritage sites and modern-day buildings co-exist.

The year-long celebrations will actually kick off in January when the Ministry of Culture has lined up a number of events that will showcase the rich cultural heritage of the city.

Delhiites have already began celebrating the centenary year of their beloved city, thronging in large numbers to a food festival at Baba Kharag Singh Marg.

The 'Delhi Ke Pakwan Festival' brings the very soul of Delhi's culture, street food to the people with a variety of kebabs, kulfi and other mouth-watering delicacies.