The area around the India Gate lawns could turn into a world-class museum hub before 2010, if a proposal of the Tourism Ministry currently being examined by the Planning Commission, is approved.
The proposal, shown to the prime minister, is to shift all the government offices in the India Gate area to some other location, and convert existing buildings there into nine theme museums, so as to turn the area around the war memorial into an even bigger tourist destination than it presently is.
There are also plans to introduce laser shows and sound-and-light shows at the spot, and build open-air theatres for music concerts. All vehicular traffic will be banned on the Rajpath stretch. The entire plan will cost Rs 821 crore.
"There is no rationale for having mundane government offices or defence officers' hostels at such a prime location," said a senior ministry official.
The ministry has recommended that all the prominent buildings - which once belonged to the erstwhile princely states - located on the periphery of the India Gate C-Hexagon roundabout, except Hyderabad House, should be converted into theme museums.
It has proposed that Baroda House (presently the Northern Railway headquarters) be converted into a Rail Museum, the Princes Park defence officers' hostel into a Space Museum, Patiala House (currently a district court) into a War Museum and Bikaner House (where the Rajasthan government has some offices) into an Earth Museum. The Jaipur House already has the National Gallery of Modern Art on its premises. The plan is to include the adjoining Air Force Officers' Mess and turn it into a full-scale Art Museum.