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Royal welcome at Delhi station

delhi Updated: Sep 01, 2011 13:14 IST
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When Emperor George V and Queen Mary arrived in Delhi for the coronation Durbar, they were first welcomed at the Delhi main railway station.

The specially decked 'Royal train' arrived at the Delhi station (See picture on left) on December 7, 1911, a few days ahead of the Delhi Durbar where the King would announce the shifting of capital from Calcutta to Delhi.

The King and Queen had first landed at the Apollo Bandar (where the Gateway of India was later built) in Bombay and then took a train to Delhi. Nearly one lakh people converged at the station to welcome the royal couple. The crowd included VIPs like British officials, soldiers and about 100 princes from different Indian states.

From the station, a five-mile procession led by the King crossed Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk before ending at Kingsway camp.

During the Durbar, a temporary station was constructed on the Hamilton Road side of Delhi station to handle the Durbar shuttle trains. The facilities were dismantled the next year.

Another grand ceremony was held for the royal couple at the Salimgarh station before their departure after the Durbar.

A grand entry for the Viceroy

It was upon the railways that the task of making a grand entrance for the Viceroy rested in the late '20s. There needed to be a station for the ceremonial welcome and a road for the Viceregal entourage to enter New Delhi. Vinoo Narain Mathur, former Member Traffic, Indian Railways, and author of Bridges, Buildings and Black Beauties of Northern Railway, writes in his book, "The first phase of the interchange station…which included a platform for ceremonial purposes, the State Entry Road and formation and the site for ceremonial reception of the Viceroy and dock platform for unloading motors, horses and carriages."

In 1926 a passenger station came up near Ajmeri Gate road over bridge in place of Delhi Sadar station and later morphed into a small station building called "New Delhi".

"The platform still remains and the State Entry Road connecting New Delhi Railway station's Platform 1 with Outer Circle of Connaught Circus is still in use. There is a need to conserve these as precious legacy of the shifting of the capital of which the railways were a vital part," said Shashanka Nanda, member of Indian Railway Fan Club Association (IRFCA).