Think of a pleasant sunny day with light breeze. Now think of a large open space in the heart of the city with lush green lawns for a family outing. The India Gate lawns? That was exactly the hangout area for Delhiites three generations ago.
Planned by Edwin Lutyens on the lines of Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, the central vista flanking the Kingsway (now Rajpath) and lawns around the All-India India Memorial (India Gate), were a hit among the crowd from day one. Delhiites would come out on the lawns around Princes Park (the India Gate C Hexagon) for their evening stroll. The place would be packed on Sundays and holidays.
In his last visit to India in 1938, Lutyens happily noted that the area has become “very popular” with the masses. Two decades later, British architect Henry Medd remarked that the lawns were packed with large number of people from end to end.
The area became so popular that concerns were raised in the administration against the “overuse” of the lawns. By the late ’40s, the lawns were used for military parade rehearsals, as playing fields by students of nearby schools, and as car parking for visitors coming to the national stadium.