VIJAY CHOWK OR “VICTORY SQUARE “, a large piazza at the base of Raisina Hill, was planned as a commanding approach to the Viceroy’s House, now the Indian President’s residence. This is where the “Beating of the Retreat” ceremony takes place each year on 29 January (see p37). Vijay Chowk is flanked by two long, classical Secretariat buildings (the North and South Blocks), which house several ministries as well as the Prime Minister’s Office. Ministers and government officials live in spacious bungalows on the tree-shaded avenues nearby. From Vijay Chowk, Lutyens’s grand Central Vista lies ahead – large trees and fountains line the lawns of Rajpath up to India Gate, the Statue Canopy and the National Stadium at the far end.
SIR EDWIN LANDSEER LUTYENS
Architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944), President of the Royal Academy from 1938 to 1944, was commissioned to design India’s new capital in 1911. With Herbert Baker, his colleague, it took him 20 years to build the city in a unique style that combined Western Classicism with Indian decorative motifs. The result is an impressive and harmonious synthesis, with Neo-Mughal gardens and grand vistas meeting at verdant roundabouts. Delayed by World War I and quarrels between Baker and Lutyens, spiralling costs met by Indian revenues led Mahatma Gandhi to term it a “white elephant”. Ironically, the British lived here for only 16 years.
Sunehri Bagh Mosque This simple 18th-century mosque, built by a saint called Sayyid Sahib, makes for a picturesque roundabout. The adjoining Sunehri Bagh Road is lined with shady trees – a feature of all Lutyens’s avenues.