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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Enhancing city living

Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 24, 2011
First Published: 23:18 IST(24/11/2011) | Last Updated: 23:23 IST(24/11/2011)

Iconic buildings that came up in the 1970s and '80s added to the character and life of the Capital.

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Delhi Transport Corporation
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the backbone of the city's public transport, was incorporated in 1971 when the Central government took over the assets and liabilities of its predecessor Delhi Transport Undertaking (DTU). DTU - part of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi - was found to be functioning inefficiently, which was leading to leakage of revenue and very high operation costs. DTC was taken over by the Delhi government in August 1996. With a fleet of 6,500 buses, DTC today is the largest CNG-powered bus service operator in the world.

Lotus Temple
The architectural wonder of Delhi, the Bahá'í house of worship, popularly known as the Lotus temple, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The temple, built in 1986, was designed by Canadian Bahá'í architect Fariborz Sahba who found his inspiration in India's national flower, the lotus.

Six hundred Indian and foreign workers took six years to built the temple. The white stone used in the construction of the main hall was imported from Greece and the cost of building at that time came out to be Rs10 crore.

Since its inauguration, the temple has drawn more than 70 million visitors, making it one of the most visited edifices in the world.

On an average, 10,000 people visit the Bahá'í House of Worship each day. There are only seven Bahá'í temples in the world. Bahá'í population in India stands at 2 million and in Delhi, there are only 2,000 Bahá'í followers.

Jeevan Bharti building
Jeevan Bharti building, designed by Charles Correa, was completed in 1986.

The building boasts of an atheistically pleasing facade of sandstone, metal and glass, and is considered one of the finest works of Correa.

The modern office complex of LIC serves both as a proscenium and a backdrop to the colonial colonnades of CP as well as the modern skyscrapers surrounding it. The faceted glass building houses two singular twelve storey structures.

Jeevan Bharti building is divided into two levels - the two lower levels consists of retail spaces and the second level has the office space.

A long pergola runs along the top of the building, serving as a canopy.

It is held together by masonry piers and a single column that are in fact the main architectural features of this building. The pergola gives a western look to a building, carved in sandstone.

Chanakya cinema
One of the most iconic movie theatres of New Delhi, the Chanakya Cinema started on December 17, 1970, premiering Raj Kapoor's Mera Naam Joker.

A generation of Delhiites have grown up watching Hollywood and art house movies at Chanakya Cinema, which introduced them to legends such as Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick. Though more well-known for the movies it screened and the famous eateries nearby, the architecture of the cinema hall is also considered ahead of its times.

The design of the cinema - that of eminent architect PN Mathur - was selected through a national competition. Constructed in reinforced cement concrete, the Chanakya Cinema was an architectural example of the post Corbusier modernist period. Despite protests by architects and prominent Delhiites, the hall was closed down in 2007 and the building was razed to the ground.

Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts
The Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts is one of the most prominent cultural organisations of the Capital.

An independent society started in 1975 by Panna Bharat Ram, the centre has been operating since 1976 from a magnificent building designed by architect Shiv Nath Prasad at Mandi House.

The building is unique in its architecture: its base is shaped like a cylinder on top of which sits a horizontal rectangle. The ground floor and first floor are within the cylindrical half of the building. Its auditorium on the first floor - The Shankar Lal Murli Dhar Auditorium - is designed for theatre music performances.

The auditorium, which boasts of a proscenium stage, has a seating capacity of about 556 people at two levels. The main hall seats around 403 and the balcony seats around 153 people. It has played host to the finest of plays and music performances over the last three decades.

Kashmere Gate ISBT
The Kashmere Gate Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) serves as one of the major entry points to Delhi. It was also the first ISBT to be built in the Capital.

Built in 1976, based on the design of architect Rajinder Kumar, the architecture of the building follows the principles of modernism.

The unique design of the building allows adequate ventilation inside the structure. Nearly 2,200 buses to seven different states ply from the Kashmere Gate ISBT.

This includes Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Around one lakh passengers visit the ISBT everyday.

The ISBT has also become a major transport hub with an interchange Delhi Metro station next to it.

The ISBT, however, is in a bad shape and there are plans to renovate the structure.

Nehru Place
After the 1960s, Connaught Place -the central business district - was not enough to cater to the Capital's growing needs.

The Master Plan of 1962 for Delhi proposed seven district centres across the city. The first one to be built among these was Nehru Place, which came up in the early 1980s. The architecture of Nehru Place follows the tenets of utilitarian modernism with a functional look.

While constructing the district centre, pedestrian and vehicular traffic were neatly segregated and the seemingly congested towers were turned into large open areas or internal plazas. Though the district centre now houses all kinds of offices, it is known more as the electronics and software hub of the city. From big showrooms of IT giants to roadside peddlers selling pirated software, Nehru Place has them all. Despite its popularity, the centre is plagued by lack of maintenance with betel nut stains marring its inner walls and staircases in a shabby condition.


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