Sunday, January 27, 2013

Delhi's Connaught Place


Delhi, January 28, 2013

I've never seen anything like Delhi's Connaught Place.  At first it may seem a roundabout, let's say a particularly large circle in Lutyens's plan of lines and circles.  But if you look more carefully, it's really something much bigger than what the British would call a circus and yet somehow smaller than a district.


It has three concentric rings roads--the outer, middle and inner circles,--two rings of curving blocks in between, and a green circle at the center.  In the original plan for the colonial capital, Connaught Place was conceived as the central business district. Most surprising--particularly in contrast to the grand gesture in plan--is the modesty of the architecture: a consistent fabric of two story squat buildings with an open colonnade at ground level.  The language is a sort of unpretentious Classicism, Doric columns at the bottom, almost industrial infill on the top, slightly more emphatic square pavilions at the end of the blocks, all thoroughly whitewashed.  What would you call it?  Practical Vignola?  I don't know, it may not have been such a bad thing that Lutyens and Baker (yes, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker) were too busy designing the monumental buildings of New Delhi...


But the key of Connaught Place is in Lutyens's plan.  There you realize that he saw it as the linchpin between Old and New Delhi.  That explains--among other things--the open southwest portion of the ring receiving Parliament Street that then continues as Minto Road straight towards the old city.

(Must confess that I was exhausted when my former student Rahoul Singh drove me around the city late after dinner and I got a first glimpse of Connaught Place.  We'll see what I make of it in daylight, alert and with more time.)

3 comments :

  1. Connaught Place makes me glow. And when you come to India again I shall show you my version of it.

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  2. thank u sir.... it was a great help for my project...:)

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    Replies
    1. most welcome. Good luck with your project!

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