Delhi diary (Sep 2007) – 6

We took off from Malai Mandir…

“Lal Kila” I told the cab driver, brusquely. Tone was firm. No deviations now, lets go direct to Red Fort…

And the cabbie took us to Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

Before Srinivasa throws a brick, I hasten to say that Shweta, the young lady from Germany, was quite happy to see this imperial house of the President of the Indian Republic.

The weather was pleasant and the view from the Rashtrapathi Bhavan highland, down dale the Raj Path was stunning. Rising out of a misty horizon, one could see the lovely India Gate.

We took some photographs at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan gates.

A couple of persons from a tourist group there asked me “Yourself Tamil Nadu?”

“Aamaa”, I said, taking a stand for the whole state.

“Where? Chennai? Ohoho! I knew, I knew! Myself Coimbatore, my friend Erode!”, said they, and immediately proceeded to treat me like family, handing over their video camera. In a second they became movie directors, gave me detailed directions as to how to shoot them, as they walked here and there. Film them inspecting the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, film them examining the canon…’Please take again” they said, after they had adjusted their hairstyle. I tell you, I suspect that every family in Tamil Nadu has at least one person who is a born movie director…

We then drove down towards India Gate. Shweta wanted some photos taken there too. And so we parked the car, and waited to cross the road and walk to the Amar  Jawan Jyoti (a flame that is kept ever burning, in honor of the unknown Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in war). (India Gate itself was built sometime in 1920s as a memorial to Indian soldiers who died in World War 1 and the Afghan war. Nearly a hundred thousand soldiers are said to have died in these wars. The Amar Jawan Jyoti came later though. It was lit at the India Gate sometime in the early 1970s).

A couple of six and a half feet tall cops attired in ceremonial finery were standing at the edge of the road-stretch that leads to India Gate. And they wouldn’t let us pass. I asked them why. They told me that some VIPs were expected anytime now, and no one was allowed near the cenotaph and the flame. I countered saying that I was a VIP too. ‘I am a citizen of India. And this is India Gate’ I said. They smiled, saw the merit of my argument, and allowed us to go near the cenotaph and take pictures – ‘Make it quick please’ said they. Jai Jawan!

We then walked across to the other monument nearby. The beautiful Chattri or Canopy that once housed the marble statue of the British Monarch, King George the Fifth. I remember the statue well. It was big, some fifty feet tall. The local authorities removed it a couple of decades ago, and moved it to some other place. The canopy remains though. There was a  plan to dismantle that too and install a statue of Mahatma Gandhi there. But that has run into some litigation. Many people want a Gandhi statue there. But they don’t want the statue to be below the canopy – as the canopy has British connotations. So they want to remove the canopy. The canopy, however is a ‘monument of historical importance’ (I guess the statue of King George V was not), and so there is a section of people who oppose its removal. The matter is in the courts. Meanwhile, the canopy stands empty and pretty. A stately perch for pigeons…

Lovely place, New Delhi.

I told Shweta about Sir Edwin Lutyens, the great Architect, who designed most of New Delhi, including the Rashtrapathi Bhawan, India Gate, and the beautiful canopy that now stands empty….

‘Any relation to Mary Lutyens, the author of J Krishnamurti books?” asked Anu, my sister.

“Her father” I said.

Oh the connections of Karma! What an odd-lot! Edward/Mary/Jiddu!

I remember attending Jiddu Krishnamurti’s lectures at the ‘Constitution House’, not far away from here…About that, some other time…

Time now to leave New Delhi, and go to Old…

Now, to Lal Kila for sure…


8 Responses to “Delhi diary (Sep 2007) – 6”

  1. ramji Says:

    was the dancing cop of the ‘many poses’ fame there at the Rajpath signal?

    The lutyens connection extends further to sir sobha Singh,the pater of Khushwant Singh!!

  2. Srinivasa Says:

    I don’t want to throw a brick – I want to throw a granite slab at you. Like the ones which stared at us when we drove from Kanchipuram to Tiruvannamalai. I deliberately use the past tense – that granite hill may not be there any more. It seems every Tamil family has at least one member who’s a granite exporter 🙂

    From Rashtrapati Bhavan to Lal Qila, you will make a stop at Rouse Avenue aka Deendayal ji Upadhyaya marg, go up a few floors to Eicher HQ , meet Anil Sachdeva or his ghost, tell him about your woes at GIL. Who knows what may strike सुट्टा’s fancy? Is beech mein Lal Qila ki chori bhi ho sakti hai, kya malum? कोई ‘वे’ आउट है आपके पास?

    I am on vrat right now – I’m not reading अठाटो ब्लाग until you reach Lal Qila. I may please be advised by personal email when that happens.

    कमाल है! लाल किले पहुंचने का नाम ही नही लेते हैं!!

  3. krishashok Says:

    Old Delhi reminds me of my college’ old campus in Kashmeeri Gate. The new campus has shifted to this unholy outskirt called Dwarka, which seems to be haunted by multi-storey zombie-like lifeless apartment complexes with no character whatsoever.

    I used to take Bus no:425 (from Kalkaji to Bus Adda) and right across from our college was the old Election Commission building, near which the world’s greatest channa bhatura is served from a small cubby-hole. One can also wash the channa down with matka-lassi from MLTR (Makkhan Laal Teekha Raam).

  4. gkamesh Says:

    srinivas sirji

    concerned atharties have been infarmed and strict skyorty has been put aal around lal kila, so that not even one parinda can beat a purr. Jai Hind!

  5. Srinivasa Says:

    No wonder Jilpa’s heart is in the right place. Not only he can configure dasavataram but now he reveals that he is also no slouch when it comes to tucking into bhaturey choley. The latter’s what separates the bande from the munde aka men from the boys 🙂

    DCE was the original St Stephen’s College. DCE environment built by Shri Allnutt formerly princi St Stephen’s College also had Garg Armoury, one more armoury whose name I can’t recall as well as St James’s church. Shri James Hodson who built this church had extensive harem with many begam, nautch girls and mutter wives.

  6. Srinivasa Says:

    Apologies – it is actually Shri James Skinner who built this church. Shri Skinner’s harem, I think, was in Haryana. Sorry, Jilpa, you didn’t miss much during your student days.

    Kabaadiwala may have some raddi on this subject, although I don’t trust it on anything before 1920.

  7. bala Says:

    india gate brings back memories from my childhood days. USed to go there Sunday evenings occasionally with parents to listen to the Delhi Police brass band play , have Kwality ice cream as a treat.

    On a more recent visit about five years ago saw a song and dance sequence being filmed for a telugu movie ( I could tell from the colors on the actors) while a few monkey’s were wandering around…


  8. gkamesh Says:


    welcome to India Gate!

    one of my childhood memories of India Gate is the Jamun trees. We would have our fill of Jamun, and come back with our school uniforms soaked in indigo color…

    and i liked ur carefully worded lines about the movie shooting 🙂

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