DESIGNED BY Sir Edwin Lutyens (see p72) as the British Viceroy’s Palace, Rashtrapati Bhavan, situated at the crest of Raisina Hill, is now the official residence of the President of India. A vast, copper-clad cupola soars over this elegant beige and red sandstone building which covers an area of 2 ha (5 acres). The piece de rdsistance is the circular Durbar Hall, situated directly beneath the dome, where all important state ceremonies and functions are held. To the west, the beautifully landscaped grounds include Rashtrapati Bhavan’s famed Mughal Gardens. These terraced gardens with watercourses and fountains built on three levels, are open to visitors in the spring months.
THE BARREN, treeless grounds around Raising Hill were selected by the British as the site of the new capital. Now a heavily-guarded, verdant area, it is dominated by stately buildings such as the twin North and South Blocks (see p72) of the Secretariat. The two virtually identical buildings that rise impressively from the top of Raisina Hill, were designed by Sir Herbert Baker, who also designed the grand circular Sansad Bhavan (Parliament House) to the north of Vijay Chowk. Both the Rajys Sabha (Upper House) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People) convene here when Parliament is in session.
The Lok Sabha’s many heated debates take place in the Central Hall. After the December 2001 terrorist attack, Sansad Bhavan is now closed to visitors. Behind Sansal Bhavan is the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Redemption, inspired by Palladio’s Church of II Redentore in Venice. Originally built for senior British officials in 1931, it is now the diocese of the Bishop of the Church of North India.
RUNNING EAST of Vijay Chowk is Rajpath, a two-mile-long avenue used for parades, with 4 ornamental fountains, canals and lawns on either side. At the intersection of Rajpath and Janpath is the National Archives building, where important state records and documents are kept. Opposite this is the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. A major venue for large exhibitions and international symposia, it also houses a collection of rare manuscripts. At Rajpath’s eastern end is India Gate, a massive red 4 sandstone arch, built to commemorate the Indian and British soldiers who died in World War I, and those who fell in battle in the North-West Frontier Province and the Third Afghan War.
An eternal flame burns in memory of the soldiers who died in the 1971 India-Pakistan War. Facing India Gate is the sandstone canopy where a statue of King George V was installed in 1936. The statue is now at Coronation Park (see p88) and the canopy stands empty.