Delhi's Raj era statues have been coralled into its dusty and forlorn Coronation Park...
Freeman Freeman-Thomas, Marquis of Willingdon; and Charles, Baron Hardinge of Penshurst. Photos My Bathroom Wall
Scruffy, dusty and deserted, Delhi's Coronation Park is a neglected and forlorn patch of land in the north part of Delhi. Mangy dogs scratching themselves in the heat may be the only company you'll find inside the unloved statue park these days, but sometimes lads play cricket on the adjacent fields. Hard to believe that the Raj era statuary in the park once commanded prime positions on the city's grandest thoroughfares - the largest of King George V for example was once on the city's most impressive street, the Rajpath, and inside the stone gateway that now stands empty.
The King George Memorial on Delhi's Rajpath; with King George (1936-1961), and sans King George today
The British ruled India for the best part of 300 years, and to show Indians, Britons, and the world, how the Imperial British Raj was the natural order for then and all time, King George V travelled to Delhi in 1911 to attend the Delhi Durbar and his coronation as Emperor of India. It also marked the moving of the capital of British India from Calcutta to what was to become New Delhi.
The 1911 Delhi Durbar, which saw the crowning of King George as Emperor of India.
Three giant jamborees took place here - in 1877 to mark the proclamation of Queen Victoria becoming Empress of India, in 1903 to mark the succession of Edward VII and his wife Alexandria as Emperor and Empress of India, and lastly the durbar of 1911 to mark the coronation of George V. The latter saw a tented camp that covered around 10 square miles and accommodate 25,000 people, plus paved roads, water mains, and a train station with 10 platforms.
The obelisk marks the spot where the royals received homage from Maharajas from across India.
The largest statue in the park id of George V by Charles Sergeant Jagger (1885-1914), which stands six metres high atop a 13 metre plinth. It was purported to have been a gift from the Maharaja of Kapurthala, and pedestal was designed by Edward Lutyens no less - the man responsible for the master plan of New Delhi.
Statue of George V - from pride of place inside the India Gate, to scruffy park in north Delhi
It's easy enough to get a taxi driver to take you to Coronation Park, but don't expect niceties in the way of a visitor's centre, a cafe or museum; there is occasionally talk of sprucing the site up with a landscaped park and visitor's centre, but as yet this hasn't come to pass.
Red stone plinths support some of the city's Raj-era statues at Delhi's Coronation Park. Photo Flickr/Hemanshu Kumar
The neglect sort of sums up the rather awkward relationship that modern India has with its British colonial past. So for now and the foreseeable future, the unmarked statues of the British Raj-era great and good stand marooned in a dusty patch of land in a little visited part of the city.
One more thing...This short clip from the 1911 Durbar shows HH The Maharaja of Baroda presenting himself before the King Emperor. The way in which he did it kicked up a storm. For starters, he wasn't wearing his full bejewelled regalia of state, and worse still from the point of view of the British, he makes just one measly bow, instead of the required three (and of the wholehearted variety). Then he walked off with his back to the King, instead of retreating backwards.
His daughter claimed in her autobiography that he had missed rehearsals and so wasn't aware of the protocol, but as the Maharaja's were famous sticklers for ceremony and protocol - and given that he had previously attended the durbars of 1877 and 1903, it seems only reasonable to assume his slight was intentional. So most likely it should stand as an act of anti-British defiance along India's road to independence.
Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is 15 kilometres southwest of New Delhi and handled almost 58 million passengers in 2016. Air India Air India destinations include Birmingham, Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Madras, Melbourne, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Singapore and Sydney. And also British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly to Heathrow, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, Emirates to Dubai, Finnair to Helsinki, KLM to Amsterdam, and Qatar Airways to Doha.