“At the very moment when the pale sun of a winter’s afternoon died behind the domes of Imperial Delhi,” wrote the Times correspondent on February 12, 1931, “the ‘Last Post’ was sounded today in salute to the Indian troops who gave their lives for the Empire in the Great War.” The occasion was the dedication of the India War Memorial, later renamed India Gate. This “magnificent arch”, he continued, “is not only a tribute to the Indian dead but is the gateway to the new capital”.
The correspondent enthusiastically described the arch as a “greater cenotaph”, ten times larger than the monument in Whitehall, and with “a stately road driven through it”. Complementing the arch, one hundred sixty yards to the east, where six roads came together to define the terminus of the new city, was erected the King George V Memorial. It too, as the architectural historian A.S.G. Butler wrote, deserved comparison with a British counterpart, in this case the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park. “Though it is only 73 feet high, and enriched by the play of water instead of elaborate figure-sculpture and Gothic ornament, it is at least the equal of the other in magnificence.” Both memorials were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who was also responsible for the overall layout of the city and the striking Viceroy’s House (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) on Raisina Hill.