It was December 12, 1911 and an announcement on shifting the capital of
India from Calcutta to was about to be made. The king of Delhi England, George the fifth and his wife Queen Mary were in specifically to preside over what later came to be known as the Delhi Durbar. India
The Delhi Durbar had been organised by the British to showcase to the rest of the world the hold that
Britain or England had over . India
All the Indian Kings and Queens with their most important officials had come to
to attend the Durbar. The then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, had been authorised by the British Government to organise the Imperial Durbar. Delhi
The reason was two-fold. The British wanted to show the Indians the coronation of George as the King of England. The second was of course to highlight the shifting of the capital.
The Viceroy took personal interest in organising the event and he sent an official communication to each and every Maharaja and Maharani asking them to attend the durbar.
Since George would be the first reigning monarch of the
to attend such a Durbar, Lord Hardinge left no stone unturned to make it a grand success. United Kingdom
The durbar was held at what is today’s
Coronation Park in . It was then called Kingsway Camp. Since 1970 it is officially known as Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar (GTB Nagar). The locality commences from GTB, passing through Chauraha and includes residential areas like Hudson Lines and Outram Lines. All these were then part of the bigger Kingsway Camp. Delhi
It was here and in this park that the George made several landmark proclaimations like the construction f
, laying the foundation for the Viceregal lodge which later would become Rashtrapathi Bhavan. New Delhi
The Viceroy set aside 6 lakhs Pounds for the Durbar and an additional sum of 3 lakhs pounds were paid by the Indian Government (British
of course) for the services of 80,000 Army personnel to provide security for the Durbar. India
Incidentally, this was the third such durbar held at the park. The first
Delhi durbar was held in 1877 when Queen was proclaimed the Empress of India and in 1903 Lord Curzon organized an event to celebrate the accession of King Edward the seventh. Victoria
The Coronation Memorial, built as an obelisk in the sprawling
, is of sandstone. It is set on a square with steps on all sides. The memorial stands at exactly the same place where all the three British Durbars were held. Coronation Park
The inscription on the Memorial says,
“Here on the 12th Day of December 1911, His Imperial Majesty King George V, Emperor of India accompanied by the Queen Empress in solemn Durbar announced in person to the Governors, Princes and Peoples of India his Coronation celebrated in England on the 22nd day of June 1911 and received from them their dutiful homage and allegiance”.
India attained Independence on August 15, 1947, the park turned into a resting place for several statues and they included Kings, Governors, Viceroys, Commanders and even some high ranking officials of British India.
These statues had been moved from various locations in and around
. including Rajpath and Rashtrapathi Bhavan.The largest and tallest statue, a 15 m (49 ft) high marble statue designed by Lutyens, is opposite to the Obelisk. It is the statue of King George V. Delhi
This statue had earlier stood atop a canopy in front of the India Gate, which is now vacant following the statue’s removal.
The Government constructed 19 pedestals to install the displaced statues but only five were fixed, while the remaining plinths are vacant. Some of the statues are believed to have been stolen or damaged.
King George here is surrounded in a semi-circle by other statues.
They are thought to be those of Sir Guy Fleetwood Wilson and Viceroys Willingdon, Irwin and Hardinge. Unfortunately, there are no name plates.
By the way, it was at this very place that the King George announced the shifting of the capital from
Calcutta to . The construction of the Delhi -now Rashtrapathi Bhavan-too was announced here. Viceregal Palace
Another little known fact is that just yards away from the park is the place where the British brutally put down the 1857 rebellion.
After partition, it became the venue of the largest refugee camp in
Delhi, housing more than 3 lakhs refugees who migrated from Pakistan and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).
When you visit
, make sure you go to this park. It has been renovated during the Commonwealth Games. Check put a piece of history. Delhi