As the Central Vista project progresses, the focus has been on Rajpath, the area around Raisina Hill and the future new Parliament building.
There is Considerable concern, however, over the fate of three iconic heritage buildings on Janpath – the National Museum, the Indira Gandhi National Arts Center (IGNCA) and the National Archives – all of which are located in the wider Central Vista redevelopment area.
What is there in these buildings, all of which have great cultural, historical and educational significance? What happens to them in the redesigned Central Vista?
National Archives of India
Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said “no heritage buildings will be demolished for the project” and the main building of the National Archives of India on Janpath will not be affected At no moment.
However, in accordance with the Central Vista redevelopment design, the annex building will be demolished to make room for offices.
According to the National Archives of India website, the institution’s genesis dates back to 1860, when HD Sandeman, then the Raj’s civil auditor, “stressed the need … to transfer … all valuable documents to a ‘Grand Central Archives’ ”.
In 1889, Professor GW Forrest of Elphinstone College in Bombay was invited to examine the files of the Indian government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Forrest strongly advocated the transfer of all records of the administration of the East India Company to a central repository.
Subsequently, on March 11, 1891, the Imperial Records Department (IRD) opened in the Imperial Secretariat building in Calcutta, then capital of British India.
After the transfer of the capital to New Delhi in 1911, the IRD moved into the National Archives building in 1926. After independence, the IRD was renamed the National Archives of India.
The building was designed to be one of four museum and archive buildings that had been planned by Edwin Lutyens around ‘Point B’ in the New Delhi plan, at the intersection of King’s Way and Queen’s Way ( now Rajpath and Janpath respectively).
The archives kept here include 45 lakh files, 25,000 rare manuscripts, over 1 lakh of maps and many important documents from the Mughal period.
Indira Gandhi National Arts Center
The IGNCA complex buildings will be demolished to make way for government offices, while IGNCA will get a new address at Jamnagar House on the India Gate Circle.
Architect and town planner Bimal Patel, whose Central Vista redevelopment company HCP Design won, said a few months ago that IGNCA would be moved to a 15-acre space at Jamnagar House, which currently has huts.
IGNCA was built in the late 1980s after an international jury made up of British architect James Sterling and Indian BV Doshi chose the design by American architect Ralph Lerner.
It was inaugurated in November 1985 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in memory of his mother and late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, as a center of study and experience of all the arts.
Puri said that until the new building is ready, all artifacts and antiques currently housed at IGNCA will be transferred to the Janpath Hotel.
He said the goal behind moving IGNCA to a new location is to create “a world-class facility comparable to those in Sydney and New York, which is not possible at its current location.”
The hotel, which will be the temporary address of IGNCA, has been remodeled to store and display the artifacts, manuscripts and other valuables owned by IGNCA.
While there is no word on what will happen to the National Museum building once it moves to its new location in the sprawling North and South buildings, perhaps in five years time the museum does. currently undergoing a massive overhaul.
“We are looking to improve the visitor experience at the museum when it reopens later this year, once the Covid-19 restrictions are over,” Raghvendra Singh, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, who is also Director General, Development of museums and culture. Spaces, says.
In accordance with the Central Vista plan, several new government buildings will need to be constructed before the ministry offices currently operating out of the North and South buildings can move. It is only after these buildings are vacated that they can be refitted to accommodate the museum exhibits.
So until around 2025-2026, the National Museum and the National Museum Institute will continue to operate from their current locations, officials said.
Interestingly, the museum was originally housed inside Rashtrapati Bhawan and opened on August 15, 1949. The foundation for the current building was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, on May 12, 1955 The first phase of the present building was inaugurated by S Radhakrishnan, then vice-president of India, on December 18, 1960. The second phase was not completed until 1989.