Delhiwale: Curzon has left the building
A look at famous Delhi roads that have shed their old colonial tags for new names in search of a new India.
It’s been 70 years since the British left India but it was only this year. In February, Delhi renamed its last major road that was dedicated by our colonial rulers after one of their own. We mean Dalhousie Road near Rashtrapati Bhawan. Here’s a list of all the roads that were named after British colonial leaders and were rechristened over the years.
DARA SHIKOH MARG
Earlier: DALHOUSIE ROAD
Named after Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s eldest son, known for his enlightenment about India’s many faiths and traditions. Dara Shikoh was executed by his brother Aurangzeb, who became the next emperor. The road was earlier named after the British-era governor general who infamously annexed Rani Lakshmi Bai’s Jhansi during British rule in India.
DR BISHAMBAR DAS MARG
Earlier: ALLENBY ROAD
Named after a Punjab-born doctor who popularized homoeopathy in the country. It initially got its name from British field marshal Edmund Allenby, remembered for his role in West Asia during World War I.
AMRITA SHERGIL MARG
Earlier: RATENDONE ROAD
It runs along Lodhi Gardens that was once called Lady Willingdon Park. The road was named after her son, the marquis of Ratendone. It was renamed in the memory of Amrita Sher-Gil, the celebrated painter who died aged 28. It is one of Delhi’s most exclusive residential areas. In summer, when the amaltas bloom, the road turns golden yellow.
BANGLA SAHIB MARG
Earlier: BAIRD ROAD
Originally named after General David Baird, the subject of the famous 1839 painting General Sir David Baird Discovering The Body Of Sultan Tippoo Sahib After Having Captured Seringapatam (4 May 1799), by David Wilkie. Its present name comes from Delhi’s biggest gurdwara.
SUBRAMANIA BHARTI MARG
Earlier: CORNWALLIS ROAD
This road in front of Khan Market was named after a British governor general. Took its present name from the early 20th century Tamil poet, whose statue is a short walk away from the affluent apartments of Sujan Singh Park.
Earlier: KING GEORGE’S AVENUE
Once named after the British monarch, it was home to Kalam. Its current name commemorates Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, India’s last governor general.
Earlier: CLIVE ROAD
This road commemorates the great 18th century Carnatic music composer. It was initially named after Robert Clive, the first British administrator of Bengal, who was one of the leaders of the British annexure in India.
BALWANT RAI MEHTA LANE
Earlier: CURZON LANE
A quiet side-lane named after Gujarat’s second chief minister, it took its former name from the British viceroy who oversaw the partition of Bengal.
KASTURBA GANDHI MARG
Earlier: CURZON ROAD
The British Council, American Center, The Hindustan Times and Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan are on this road. It was renamed after Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, though many people still refer to it as Curzon Road.
Earlier: HARDINGE AVENUE
Dalit leader BR Ambedkar lived here as the country’s first law minister. It was earlier named after a British viceroy who served in India during the historic Delhi Durbar in 1911, when the capital was shifted from Kolkata. Now named after freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
KALI BARI MARG
Earlier: HAVELOCK ROAD
Henry Havelock was a British general who recaptured Kanpur during the 1857 rebellion. The current name comes from a Kali temple dating to the 1930s.
BABA KHARAK SINGH MARG
Earlier: IRWIN ROAD
Irwin was a viceroy. Kharak Singh was a freedom fighter. Popular landmarks are the state emporia and the Hanuman temple.
Earlier: KEELING ROAD
Hugh Keeling was the chief engineer of New Delhi. Its name was changed to honour Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, whose statue stands at the starting point of the road on Janpath.
MAULANA AZAD ROAD
Earlier: KING EDWARD ROAD
Named after India’s first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the tree-lined avenue is home to the vice-president.
SARDAR PATEL MARG
Earlier: KITCHENER ROAD
This road overlooks a part of the Ridge. Home to a number of state bhavans, and the Taj Palace and ITC Maurya hotels, it was named after a British military leader. It now commemorates Vallabhbhai Patel.
Earlier: MINTO ROAD
Most known for its railway overbridge, the road was renamed after the Hindu reformer, though most Delhiites still know it as Minto Road. There were two colonial-era Mintos in India. One was a governor general; the other was his grandson, a viceroy.
Earlier: READING ROAD
Lord Reading, or Rufus Daniel Isaacs, was British India’s only Jewish viceroy. Now the road takes its name from the famous Laxmi Narayan Temple, also known as Birla Mandir.
TEEN MURTI MARG
Earlier: ROBERTS ROAD
Robert Tor Russell was the British architect of Connaught Place, who also designed Flagstaff House on this very road. Renamed Teen Murti Bhavan, this became the residence of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister.
NETAJI SUBHASH MARG
Earlier: ELGIN ROAD
Named after a British viceroy, it runs along the Red Fort ramparts. In the 1940s, a treason trial behind those walls put members of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in the dock.