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At Janpath, a picture in contrast

india Updated: Jul 06, 2013 23:40 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Huge machinery and cranes occupying a large part of the Janpath for the ongoing construction for a new Metro line and a station hide behind them imprints of the bygone era.

These are the twins across the road - the Eastern Court and the Western Court. These two beautiful pieces of architecture are by Robert Tor Russel and were originally designed as hostels for legislators.

While several historians credit these "cream white edifices with arcaded verandahs on huge bases" as Russel's best work, no one seems to know why they were called 'Courts'.

The base platform is almost one floor tall. Then there is a single continuous verandah with giant Tuscan columns that covers the above two floors. Both the buildings have sprawling lush green lawns.

The Western Court still is being used as a guest house for Parliamentarians and thus, for most parts of the year wears an almost deserted look. But the Eastern Court is in complete chaos. It houses the Central Telegraph Office, the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and other sundry offices.

With the upcoming underground Metro station's exits planned to open right between the stretch, AK Jain, an architect-town planner, who is also on the advisory board of the UN Habitat, has a forward looking idea for the area.

"Existing buildings of Eastern and Western Courts depict colonial architecture and are of great heritage value. The usage of these buildings can be changed from government offices to museums, art galleries, etc.," Jain writes in his book 'Lutyens' Delhi'.