Kingsway, Rajpath & Now Kartavya Path: A Glance at the Century-Old Delhi Avenue
The change comes ahead of the revamped Central Vista Avenue's inauguration.
The government on Wednesday, 7 September announced the historic decision to rename Delhi's Rajpath – the ceremonial boulevard extending from the India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhavan – as 'Kartavya Path'.
After the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) convened a special meeting over the matter, the Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi, addressed a press meet, elucidating the symbolism behind the renaming.
"We carried forward the colonial mindset after Independence. Rajpath conveys you are taking administrative positions with the idea of doing 'raj'... the change is name is a reminder that the spirit of public service is not 'right to rule' but 'duty to serve'.”Meenakshi Lekhi
The change also comes ahead of the inauguration of the revamped Central Vista Avenue - 'Kartavya Path' is a part of the project - on Thursday.
The three-kilometre roadway, built to serve as the administrative axis of the British Indian Empire, has now undergone two title changes over the period of a century. Here is a look at the iconic stretch's history.
Delhi Becomes the British Capital: Kingsway
In 1911, Emperor of India George V, visited Delhi and proclaimed his decision to shift the British Empire's administrative capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
The architects of Delhi, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, subsequently began constructing the capital city. Lutyens conceptualised a modern imperial city, which would be sprawled around a "ceremonial axis" – the Kingsway.
Built around 1920, the arterial road, going east to west, housed the Viceroy's residence, called the viceregal palace, and offered a panoramic view of the city. It was named in honour of the Emperor of India George V.
The title was akin to the Kingsway in London – a ceremonial boulevard built to honour George V’s father, Edward VII, in 1905.
Independence & Renaming of Rajpath
After the end of colonial rule, the road's english designation was discarded, and the boulevard came to be known as 'Rajpath' - a Hindi translation of 'Kingsway'.
This title would remain the same for the coming 75 years.
Rajpath now signified the principal avenue where the annual Republic Day parade would be held on 26 January. The stretch encompassed the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Raisina Hill, Vijay Chowk, and India Gate.
On Raisina Hill, the road also offered a direct view of the North and South Blocks of the Secretariat Building, and roads from Connaught Place ran into the stretch from the north.
The imperial landscape of the area was altered by Indian architects, and it was lined by huge lawns, canals, and rows of trees on both sides.
Another road, which bisected the old 'Kingsway', was renamed Janpath (People's road).
In 1980s, a new road, called the Rafi Ahmad Kidwai Marg, was constructed to improve north-south connectivity in the city.
The Central Vista Redevelopment & 'Kartavya Path'
On 7 September, the central government announced that Rajpath would be renamed as 'Kartavya Path' – symbolising a departure from a title that was a 'colonial relic'.
The renaming came amidst the Narendra Modi government's Central Vista redevelopment plan, which began in December 2020.
Under the project, the bajri sand that lined Rajpath was replaced with red granite walkways spreading 1,10,457 square metres. Further, as many as 987 concrete bollards were installed and a total of 1,490 manhole covers were replaced, as per an official document.
The redevelopment of the Central Vista, the nation's power corridor, envisaged a new parliament building, a common central secretariat, the revamping of the three kilometre stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, a new Prime Minister's Residence and Prime Minister's Office, and a new Vice-President Enclave.
PM Modi is set to inaugurate the revamped vista, and unveil 'Kartavya path' on 8 September 2022.
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