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Delhi is no stranger to ostentatious displays of state power. A hundred years ago, it witnessed the biggest spectacle of them all, the Coronation Durbar of King George V, the supreme sovereign of the British Empire. It was the first and the only time that a British monarch would visit his chief colony. The bundobast was lavish. A side story of this £1,000,000 extravaganza was a massive boost to transport facilities. From new tram lines to roads, all stops were pulled out to ensure a smooth passage of men and materials for the Durbar.
The Tis Hazari railway station in this picture was one of twenty-four new stations that mushroomed in and around Shahjahanabad. This narrow gauge line was one of two set up between the Durbar grounds—called the ‘Tamasha Terrace’ by the locals—and Azadpur and Kashmiri Gate. Like most things, it worked out well, and the Coronation Durbar succeeded with great pomp and splendour, and heralded the sudden shift of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. It was the only thing that the King announced. Almost a century later, the tram lines might have disappeared from Chandni Chowk, but the narrow gauge line has a metro line running by it.
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