The ancient Rajpath in India’s political capital has seen colonial rule and basked in the glory of a free, democratic nation, having witnessed the dawn of independence and serving as host to the annual Republic Day celebrations for more than seven decades.
Kingsway, a majestic central axis in the heart of New Delhi, was built here after the imperial seat of the administration was shifted from Calcutta (now Kolkata), as announced by British monarch King George V in 1911. Kingsway later became the ceremonial boulevard of the national capital running from the Raisina Hill complex to India Gate.
Soon after India gained its independence, Queensway, which runs parallel to Kingsway, was renamed Janpath, and Kingsway was renamed Rajpath.
Rajpath has now been called Kartavya Path, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will open the newly-christened section of Central Vista Avenue, which runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, on Thursday.
King George V and Queen Mary lay the cornerstone for the “new capital” of the British Raj on December 15, 1911.
The new capital city was erected in accordance with the king’s vision by architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, and it rivaled the finest cities in Europe and America in terms of grandeur and architectural splendor.
The Viceroy’s House, now known as Rashtrapati Bhavan, as well as North Block and South Block, which together make up the Imperial Secretariat, were located in the Raisina Hill complex, which served as the focal point of this new capital.
The architects created the magnificent Central Vista Avenue by laying a great axis from the Great Place (later called Vijay Chowk) to India Gate, with lush grass, fountains, and decorative lampposts on either side.
Near the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Baker built a circular Parliament House, which the then Viceroy Lord Irwin opened in January 1927.
The same ruler opened the city on February 13, 1931, after it had been built for more than 20 years between the two World Wars.
The avenue from Raisina Hill to India Gate was chock-a-block with people, welcoming the dawn of a free India which shook off the yoke of a long colonial rule., which opened on August 15, 1947, marking India’s independence.
On January 26, 1950, India became a republic, and since 1951, all Republic Day festivities have taken place on Rajpath.
The Rajpath length finishes beyond the India Gate complex, where the inaugural Republic Day festivities were held at Irwin Stadium (now Captain Dhyan Chand National Stadium).
According to a public notification released Wednesday by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the Rajpath and the Central Vista grounds that border the promenade has been formally renamed Kartavya Path.
Meenakshi Lekhi, a member of the NDMC and the Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, stated on Wednesday that although Rajpath was known as Kingsway and Janpath as Queensway under British control.
“However, it is believed that the name of Rajpath should be changed after 75 years of independence to better reflect the values and tenets of democracy and a modern, new India. Everyone who visits or crosses the Kartavya Path will be motivated to fulfill their obligations to the nation, society, and their family, “She spoke.
The suggestion was obtained from the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, according to NDMC Vice Chairman Satish Upadhyay (MoHUA).
Also unveiled on Thursday by PM Modi is the 28-foot-tall statue of Bose at India Gate, encased in its decorative canopy.
Since the statue of King George V was removed in 1968 and later dumped at Coronation Park in northwest Delhi, ironically, the location of the 1911 coronation durbar, the famed canopy, standing on four columns of the Delhi Order devised by Lutyens for the new capital’s main buildings sitting on the Raisina Hill complex radially opposite the India Gate on a long and wide axis – Rajpath, had been lying empty.
According to historical sources, the massive marble monument of King George V was inaugurated in 1939 by the viceroy of the time, Lord Linlithgow, as a suitable memorial to the British king under whose rule the capital of “New Delhi” was constructed.