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  • Alexis Beard

The Imperial

Capital city of the country of a thousand nations, Delhi is a city that unites two different worlds. Old Delhi, the capital of Islamic India, is a maze of narrow streets and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. Delhi has been the seat of power for almost a millennium. It is a city that has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt over the centuries.

It is a historic town, and the best way to explore is from a historic hotel. The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi is known for its heritage and legacy. It was here, in the Patiala Peg bar where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten met to discuss the partition of India and the birth of Pakistan.

The Imperial was the first major luxury hotel in New Delhi and today has the largest collection of colonial and post-colonial art and artifacts anywhere in Delhi, and features a museum and an art gallery.

In the early 1900s, when British architect Edwin Lutyens designed New Delhi with its concentric roads lined by majestic trees, he left a spot for the Imperial Hotel on one of the main boulevards, Queensway (later renamed Janpath).

The hotel was opened in 1936, designed with a mix of Victorian and colonial architecture with a touch of Art Deco style. The architect, DJ Blomfield, was an associate of Edwin Lutyens, who in turn was responsible for the design of New Delhi when it became the new capital of the British Raj. The Imperial was built by S.B.S. Ranjit Singh, son of R.B.S. Narain Singh, honored by the British Raj, at the coronation Durbar of 1911, when New Delhi was declared the new capital of India instead of Calcutta.

Only a few other hotels pre-date the Imperial—the Taj Mahal in Bombay (1903), The Great Eastern (1840) in Calcutta, and The Maidens (1903) in New Delhi.

The Imperial projects classic Anglo/Indian luxury and is seeped in history - there are 7,000 paintings and 2,500 original photos hanging in the hotel's hallway galleries, and a tour of all the art and artefacts is available - this hotel would definitely appeal to history buffs

Centrally located and easy to get around, The Imperial is situated on Connaught Place and so benefits from the salubrious shopping and eating out opportunities of this upmarket area. It is also easy to access Old Delhi and is only 5 minutes from India Gate

With its Italian marble floors, teak, high ceilings, large gardens and excellent restaurants, this hotel exudes luxury, right in the heart of Delhi.

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