Feb. 13, 1931: New Delhi becomes capital of India


The Delhi Durbar in 1911 with King George V and Queen Mary. (Wikimedia Commons)

New Delhi wasn’t always the capital of India. While it had long served as a center of finances and politics, it wasn’t until Feb. 13, 1931 that the capital officially moved from Calcutta and New Delhi was inaugurated by the Viceroy Lord Irwin.

The construction of New Delhi as a capital of the British empire was part of a British effort to expand its presence in the country. The foundation stone of the city was laid in 1911 by George V, the emperor of India, in what was known as a Delhi Durbar – a massive gathering in Coronation Park that happened only three times. Much of the administrative area of the city was designed by British architects and constructed after World War II. That included the Rajpath (also known as King’s Way), which stretches from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhawan – today the official home of the President of India and formerly the Viceroy’s house. Parliament House, various ministry buildings, a circular rail line and a new plaza and shopping district were all constructed as part of the effort.

Today, New Delhi attracts tourists to a number of these historic sites, as well as to places like The National Museum and Ghandi Smriti, where Ghandi was assassinated. New Delhi, though, is also known for having some of the worst air quality of any major city and temperatures that average around 100 degrees in the summer.

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