India’s Monuments of Power and Grace

The North and South blocks situated across each other on the Raisina Hill flanking the Rashtrapati Bhavan houses the headquarters of the government offices and the Delhi assembly. Close by stands the magnificent India Gate.

The North and South blocks together form the secretariat building. Designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker the north and south blocks were introduced as the two secretariat buildings when the British relocated the government offices in 1910. It happened when the British decided to move their capital from Calcutta (now Kolkatta) to Delhi. The move required a royal and magnificent architecture. The impressive administrative buildings were built on either side of Rajpath as a visible symbol of British supremacy over India.
These two buildings house the most important offices of the government of India; the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Finance are all housed here. The South Block can be called the more important of the two, as it contains the prime Minister’s office, popularly known as the PMO.
The most prestigious and guarded monument of Delhi with majestic architecture and wide roads around is a wonderful view. You can always take a drive around which will leave you mesmerized; it will give you the feel of aura and authority. Being a major tourist attraction, tourists from all over the world come here during their New Delhi tours. Prior permission is needed if you wish to view the buildings from inside. The two blocks are floodlit during the national festivals, and present a magnificent sight for people passing through that side.
Both the North and South Blocks face each other with the Vijay Chowk, a huge square in between. It is the venue of the beating of the retreat ceremony held on the 29th of January every year. The buildings are made of rose pink and pale yellow sandstone giving a hint of Mughal and Rajputana style. The slants along the roof protect the artwork of the building from heat and monsoon showers. The long classical buildings are crowned by an imposing 217 ft high dome reminiscent of the Indian Chhatri, an architectural feature unique to India. The buildings have four floors-each floor consisting of about 1000 rooms with long running corridors.

Box ISome striking features
• Colonnades and flat roofs, dominated by huge domes are striking features
• Typical Indian architectural features like the ‘Jaali’ and the ‘Chajja’ are used
• Jaali an intricately carved ornamental stone screen, is ideal for Indian climatic conditions
• Chajja, a thin projection of stone, protects the walls and windows from the hot summer sun and the heavy monsoon rains.
• Another feature adopted by the designers was the ‘chattri’ or the umbrella-shaped dome that broke the monotony of the flat, horizontal skylines.
• The interior of the two blocks are adorned by beautiful fountain courts and pillared passages.
• The two buildings also contain several paintings and sculptures making them aesthetically pleasant structures.

Nearby Attractions
Some of the most important landmarks of New Delhi are located near the North and south blocks. Nearby attractions include – Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, Jantar Mantar, Gurudwara Bangla Saheb, National Museum and India Gate.
India Gate
India Gate is a war memorial, situated in Rajpath region of New Delhi. The foundation stone of India Gate was laid in 1920 and the structure was unveiled in 1933. The structure stands as a memorial to soldiers of the British Indian Army who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. On its walls are inscribed the names of 60,000 men who fell fighting for the British Empire. Originally called the War Memorial Arch, India Gate commemorates the Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the war. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, India Gate is known for its wonderful architecture and is counted among the largest war memorials in India.
Another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was added later and was dedicated to soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

Since 1971, after the Bangladesh Liberation War, a flame has been burning under the India Gate. It denotes India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Also called Flame of the Immortal Soldier, the flame honours every Unknown Soldier who sacrificed his life in the war. The flame burns throughout the year. It is a simple structure consisting of a black marble plinth, with a reversed rifle, capped by a war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames. The helmet and the rifle are said to belong to an unknown soldier who lost his life during the war.

The place is a popular tourist spot where people usually go to spend time especially during winter afternoons and summer evenings. Flanked by lush green lawns, it is a perfect picnic spot. It is a place loved by morning and evening walkers too. The option of boating is also there; a small pond there serves as a perfect boating area. Many visit the place during night to enjoy the beautiful lighting in the area. With plenty of wide space for children to run around the place is loved by children. Many street hawkers sell eatables like ice cream, snacks etc which adds to the charm of the place.

Some Facts
• India Gate is one of the biggest war memorials of the world
• The design of India Gate is similar to that of Arc De Triomphe in Paris
• The structure is 42m high
• It took around a decade to complete the construction of India Gate
• The walls of India Gate have the names of all the martyred soldiers inscribed on them
• The Republic Day parade takes place here every year on 26th January
• The structure’s foundation was laid by Sir Edwin Lutyens
• The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge moulding