From the cacophony of the heavy traffic on National Highway 1, when you turn for Burari, the sprawling expanse called the Coronation Park strikes you as an empty — well, almost — and dusty open space.
This was the place where the three Delhi Durbars were held in 1877, 1903 and 1911 — in the last one King George V announced the shift of imperial capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
Now, there is a flicker of hope for the park in the centenary year of the 1911 Durbar.
Nearly two years after Delhi Development Authority (DDA) signed a memorandum of understanding in March 2009 with Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the Delhi Urban Arts Commission approved DDA’s proposal two weeks ago, paving way for the park’s re-development.
Spread over 57 acres, the park has a huge tourism potential. However, sheer lack of awareness about its historical significance has reduced the park to a neighbourhood playground.
The re-development plan includes creation of an interpretation centre, landscaping a substantial area, complete with walkways and refurbishing pedestals and garden.
“The theme, as proposed, will not only enhance the historic importance (of the park), but it will also provide a significant usable space for this part of Delhi,” said Ratish Nanda, a member of the commission.
The park’s historical significance can be seen in the several statues atop pedestals in an enclosure, which are poorly kept. The most important statue among these is that of King George V, which was shifted here from the canopy at India Gate, sometime after Independence.
The other statues, too, were brought here from other parts of the city, including the Parliament lawns. However, most of the statues have gone missing.
Even the Coronation Pillar — erected to commemorate the 1911 Durbar — stands on a huge platform with crumbling steps.
INTACH’s AGK Menon said: “We plan to conserve the Coronation Pillar, refurbish the platform. The statues, too, would be re-arranged.”
AK Nigah, chief engineer (north zone) of the landowning agency DDA, said the estimated cost, at present, is pegged at about R13 crore.
“But it would increase. The work has already started and we plan to complete it before the anniversary month of December.”