Living india: Autumn in Delhi, a slice of history"
AUTUMN IN INDIA: A slice of historyPrimo appuntamento della nuova rubrica di Agre Cafè: l’Autunno è il momento miglioreper passeggiare tra le strade di Lutyens Delhi e ammirare le architetture e la sua longevastoria…per sostare, ammirare e rimanerne rapiti.Figura 1 The Rashtrapati BahavanWhile even the greatest cities are but a sum of all their parts, sometimes one particular part may entice and beguilethe visitor more than all the others. This is especially true of Delhi, a city that has grown over a span of about 2,000years, periodically donning a new mantle without ever really shedding the old.
Despite the many splendid charms-- especially the Mughal settlement of Shahjahanabad--most visitors to the capital confess to love at first sight for the sprawling New Delhi or Lutyens Delhi, as it is widely known. Of course, historians and architects are quick to point out that this is a misnomer: New Delhi was the labour of several talented architects and not just Edwin Lutyens. But in popular imagination the tag remains current.Figura 2 The impressive facade of The Imperial HotelLutyens Delhi is the entire zone laid out and built by the British as their administrative capital and the seat of theircolossal power. It spans the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, Parliament House, Connaught Place, Teen MurtiBhavan, the North and South Secretariats, the Eastern and Western Courts, several other significant edifices and ahost of colonial-style bungalows. The tree-lined area has broad avenues and several beautifully landscapedroundabouts. Almost 80 years later today, walking and driving along these wide boulevards still remains a pleasure.The best way to explore New Delhi at this time of the year is on foot. Despite the slight chill, the city is at its bestduring autumn. Most of the ornamental trees along these avenues shed their leaves, but before that they turn into ariot of colours for a brief period and thats when this capital looks its best.
Figura 3 Janpath marketThose who are here for the first time can check into The Imperial, one of the finest hotels in the city located inJanpath, that goes back as long as 1930s. This was said to be the neutral meeting ground of all those who played aleading role in the independence and partition of India, viz. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad AliJinnah and Lord Mountbatten.Autumn is the time when all of Delhi seems to converge to the India Gate lawns. Earlier known as the All India WarMemorial, this red sandstone and granite archway was designed by Lutyens. It marks one end of the ceremonialboulevard Rajpath while the Rashtrapati Bhavan (earlier the Viceregal Palace) crowns the other end.Once youve had your fill of this majestic structure, you could stroll leisurely along Rajpath, sampling some of the citysstreet food such as chanajor garam, bhelpuri, shakarkandi, and pakori chaat on the way. The magnificent RashtrapatiBhavan greets you at the other end of the road. It is said that though Lutyens disliked traditional Indian architecture,he was prevailed upon by Governor-General Hardinge to incorporate several native elements in his design.Make Parliament House your next stop. Though it might seem dwarfed by the grandeur of the Viceregal Palace, it is anarchitectural gem. Designed by Robert Tor Russell to resemble the Mahatmas spinning wheel, it too uses thetraditional red sandstone that recurs like a leitmotif through this capital of the Raj.
Figura 4 India GateThe Teen Murti Bhavan, where you can go next, also carries Russells signature and was originally the residence of theCommander-in-Chief of the British Empire in India. Later it became the abode of free Indias first prime minister,Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and is presently maintained as a memorial to him. Amble through the extensive building andits grounds and then catch an astronomy show at the planetarium next door.Apart from monument hoppin, Lutyens’ Delhi also promises you an extraordinary gastronomic experience. Thelaidback Basil and Thyeme at the Santushi Shopping Complex in Chanakyapuri serves melt-in-your mouth Continentalfare and is the ideal place for a leisurely lunch. For a memorable dining experience, try the stunning and ratheropulently designed Veda, a restaurant that has its own unique take on contemporary Indian Cuisine in ConnaughtPlace. Another exceptional dining experience awaits you at Dhaba at The Claridges hotel. As the name suggests,Dhaba reacreates the ambience of a Punjabi highway eatery with a reconstructed truck and rustic sits-out. Thesucculent kebabs and balti meat cannot be missed.On the days you go shopping to Connaught Place, begin with breakfast at at the popular patisserie Wenger’s knownfor its delectable sandwiches, cutlets, quiches, croissants and pastries. No retail therapy session in Delhi can becomplete without a visit to the Central Cottage Industries Emporium on Janpath and the Rajiv Gandhi HandicraftsBhavan on Baba Kharak Marg.
Figura 5 Anish Kapoor, pigmentsFigura 6 National Gallery of Modern ArtYou cannot leave Delhi without taking in a slice of Indian history and heritage at the National Museum. You’ll beentranced by the displays of coins, arms, jewellery, sculpture, paintings and manuscript. Those with a more artisticbend of mind might prefer the National Gallery of Modern Art. Here you’ll come to face-to-face with the country’smost significant artistic treasures and can even take some home in the form of well-produced prints.By the end of your sojourn, you’ll find the despite the preference for South Delhi, Lutyens Delhi remains the culturalcore of the city. It’s picturesque, historical and absolutely breathtaking in this heavenly season.