Delhi celebrates 100th year as Capital


By Hindustan Times

It was on this day, 100 years ago, that an event changed the course of Delhi's history forever. The Delhi Durbar on December 12, 1911 was marked as a celebration of the coronation of King Emperor George V.

Delhi had witnessed two such durbars before, in 1877 and 1903, but the Delhi Durbar of 1911 assumed unusual importance as King George V announced the shifting of British India's capital from Calcutta to Delhi.

As chronicled by HT over the past year in the series New Delhi 100, Delhi in 1911 was just a small town in the Punjab province, still recovering from the wounds inflicted on it by the British regime after the uprising of 1857.

But the king's proclamation at the durbar, kept a secret till then, changed Delhi's fate and put it firmly on the international political map.

Calcutta, the nerve centre of British Raj till then, had fallen out of favour as it had become politically volatile.

The British government wanted to shift the capital and Delhi won on many counts. It was closer to Shimla, the summer capital and was well connected by rail.

In the next 20 years, New Delhi would be carved out of scattered villages and a rocky ridge inhabited by jackals. The new capital and its imposing buildings would come to define Delhi for the next 100 years. The capital, however, would keep growing beyond the garden city planned by Edwin Lutyens - and continues to grow.