100 years of Delhi: Focus on heritage in Lutyens zone
NEW DELHI: While the legacy of the capitals of the Mughals, the Lodis, the Tughlaqs right up to the Delhi Sultanate period forms much of the shared heritage of the city, very little is talked about of the heritage aspect of British capital of New Delhi.
As it completes 100 years of being the capital, heritage experts want to bring New Delhi to the centre of the public consciousness by introducing the concept of heritage walks in Lutyens zone.
Heritage conservation group INTACH has been prolific in using the tool of heritage walks, and has conducted guided tours in past months in and around the heritage-rich areas of Lodi gardens, Sultan Garhi, and Mehrauli, among others.
Now, its Delhi chapter is planning to take the concept to the New Delhi, the last capital in present-day Delhi which has been home to seven major capital cities, dating back 3,000 years to the time of Indraprastha.
In a city which dates back to at least three millenia, 100 years is hardly history. Nevertheless, the youngest capital zone of Delhi, does make for a remarkable heritage in itself.
"As 100 years is hardly considered history, no one has looked at New Delhi from the perspective of a heritage area," A G K Menon, convener of Intach's Delhi Chapter says.
"New Delhi is now just nearing the 100-year age mark and we need to focus on it as a centre of rich heritage," he said.
Commensurate to this need, the experts associated with INTACH are preparing the contours of heritage walks in New Delhi.
The British capital, the foundation of which was laid in December, 1911, was planned by two leading 20th century British architects - Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker - who embedded it with Victorian style grandeur.
The grandeur is visible in the magnificence of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Parliament House, the North and South Blocks - the seats of the Indian government, besides the India Gate, the residential zone of white bungalows and the commercial centre of Connaught Place.
The heritage walk along the Lutyens zone - often associated with the present day power centre - will focus on the significance of this part of Delhi and the facts behind its planning.
"If I tell a lay man that New Delhi's planning was derived from the Garden city movement, he or she not understand much. We will have to tell people what the Garden city movement was and how it influenced the construction of New Delhi.
"This will be our focus, to make people aware of the significance of New Delhi, about the principles that guided its construction," Menon says.
Garden city principles, a method of urban planning where cities were planned as self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts or parks, greatly influenced the design of colonial and post-colonial capitals during the early part of the 20th century, including New Delhi.
The heritage tour of New Delhi will try to cover the monuments, buildings and residential spaces in the region and given the vastness of the area, tourists might also be taken for a bus ride.
"The monuments of New Delhi have been remarkably preserved. The buildings and the mounments remain largely in good shape and the only thing that is worrisome for now is that the trees are growing old," he says