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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Author Swapna Liddle On Presenting New Delhi Of Old Times And Transformation It Went Through

  • IWB Post
  •  January 11, 2019


In her latest book, Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi, historian and author Swapna Liddle has reproduced the Delhi of old times with ultimate finesse. Her story starts from the time when the thought to name Delhi as the capital of India, instead of Calcutta, first came to colonial rulers.

“Unlike Shahjahanabad, New Delhi is not a walkable city, it was built in the age of the motor car,” said Liddle.

The book explores how New Delhi was planned and built, people who played important roles in its making, the social life and the transformation it went through. Like Connaught Place, CP, was a shopping complex frequented by the elite and sold “charming evening frocks, afternoon frocks, suits and millinery.”

“The making of Connaught Place was revolutionary for its time as it was built with private investment, and the blocks were sold individually. But the design was done by the government. Even if you look at the palaces of the princely states, the architecture was dictated by the board of architects so that it would gel with other buildings,” said Liddle. She is also the conveyor of the Delhi chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

She also mentioned how Central Park was once covered by expansive lawns, and in the center was a bandstand. “Music was played every Saturday from the middle of October to mid-April, during the Delhi season, when officials descended from their summer sojourn in Shimla,” she said.

“I think spaces like CP and Khan Market, maybe upmarket shopping complexes, are better than the malls for they are more inclusive. If there is a fine-dining restaurant, there is also a fruit seller with his pushcart,” she said.  “Buildings like Nirman Bhavan and Udyog Bhavan were built then and colonies like Kaka Nagar, Bapa Nagar, and Pandara Park came up. The area what has now become Pragati Maidan, was supposed to be for fuel plantation, but the Indian government wanted a space for trade fairs.”


H/T: The Indian Express 

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