When Lutyens' wife wanted home rule for India! | delhi | Hindustan Times
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When Lutyens' wife wanted home rule for India!

Even as he was preparing plans to build a new city to house imperial offices in Delhi, Master architect Edwin Lutyens' wife Emily was for home rule for India and was quite vocal about it.

delhi Updated: Aug 07, 2009 13:36 IST

Even as he was preparing plans to build a new city to house imperial offices in Delhi, Master architect Edwin Lutyens' wife Emily was for home rule for India and was quite vocal about it.

Mrs Lutyens was restrained from speaking in public by none other than legendary Annie Besant who feared it would jeopardise her husband's prestigious commission of erecting important buildings in New Delhi, says a new book.

In "New Delhi: Making of a Capital", authors Malvika Singh and Rudrangshu Mukherjee piece together the story of the eighth reincarnation of the historic city.

Edwin and South African architect Herbert Baker were, in 1913, entrusted by the British government to build the Government House (Rashtrapati Bhavan) and other important monuments in the new imperial capital of New Delhi.

The book, published by Roli, also says that Emily was very much drawn towards theosophists. "The headquarters of the Theosophical Society was at Adyar, on the outskirts of Madras. She adored Annie Besant and became very close to J Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya when they were young boys; she travelled with them to many countries and was totally committed to the theosophical movement," it says.

Both Edwin and Emily had an important bond with India but their sense and feel of the country was at variance and very dissimilar.

"His was the position of the 'empire' and hers was more humane," the book says.

They differed politically as well. While Emily wanted home rule for India, Edwin believed in British supremacy over the subcontinent.

"Emily was compassionate and understood the compulsions and tribulations of a nation that was striving to free itself from alien rule and was vocal on the issue of home rule. It was Besant the great theosophist who restrained her from speaking out in public because it would have jeopardised Edwin's prestigious commission," it says.

The coffee-table book showcases century-old telegrams, maps, plans, drawings, letters and scraps of paper; the agreement Edwin and Baker signed together; the sharp arguments the two had on key architectural issues and lot more.

The total cost of building the entire city was Rs 13 crore. The subsistence allowance for Edwin and Herbert was fixed at 30 shillings as well as five guineas for their absence from home.