Connaught Place, the magnificent, imposing structure situated in the heart of the bustling capital is very evidently the most conspicuous thing about Delhi. I sometimes wish I was born in the 1930’s so that I could witness the pristine white giant in all its glory. Therefore, to feed my imagination, Connaught Place paints a black and white picture of the good old times: the nobility, with their heads held high, walking through the lanes in their elegant attires and their jewellery reflecting back shards of light. I could picture them catching a performance in one of the many theatres, with their binoculars in hand and smiles pasted on their beautiful faces. I watched them dine in some wonderful Mughlai fare and then witnessed them moving on to sample delectable Swiss chocolates. I thought I saw Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah deliberate upon issues of prime importance at The Imperial when all of a sudden, I was shaken out of my stupor.
I opened my eyes and had an epiphany, one that said that, in a country like ours, nothing is constant but change. I still see people walking around, what is officially known as, ‘Rajiv Chowk‘, it is just that they are so many in number, that it feels like I am counting the stars. They walk in a pace which is very similar to the many cars on the streets, the noise inflicts pain into my ears and a closer observation makes me come to the conclusion that the place has been ransacked. The ugly mess that the historical site has been reduced to is nothing but repulsive. Connaught Place may be popular as a book-lover’s paradise and it may be a sort of Mecca for those who are passionate about food, but for people like me, it is turning into one of those places I would visit only when forced to.
With all the debris scattered around, the pipes protruding from the innumerable construction sites, the bricks, the stones, the barricades and the workers sitting in a corner and smoking cigarettes, Connaught Place is pretty much akin to an area that has recently witnessed a terrorist attack. The makeshift bridges that are constructed in order to help people get to their favourite shops and restaurants do nothing to help. The rains add to the already existing problems as the water-logged alleys make it difficult for one to move around. Personally, hovering around the many circles does not really bring joy to my heart anymore as it is more like an unending maze with painful barriers that one has to put in all possible efforts to cross.
”I think CP has a wonderful history. Families would love to be here considering the number of shops and restaurants its boasts of. But the dug up lanes, the traffic being diverted etc. make it difficult for people to spend time here. It also seems unsafe to me now” says Shikha Arora of Jesus And Mary College. Nandita Choudhry of Lady Shri Ram College For Women, explains: ‘‘To me CP is like a symbol, it is a brand by itself, it represents the whole of old and new Delhi. Considering the present condition, I can only hope the government hurries up and restores it”
Considering the sad situation the place is in, I cannot hold myself from imagining Connaught Place going back to being the semi-forested land it once used to be, inhabited by the wild and by game hunters. The walls which were once an embodiment of might, of strength seem to be crumbling down. This heritage site, deserves nothing but reverence on part of the people and those running the system. We as citizens need to do something urgently in order to prevent visiting the place from becoming an ordeal.
Hindustan Times has taken a lead on this, to ask the Chief Minister to commit to a deadline and finish up work by that deadline. A petition has been compiled here, for this urgent need of restoration. We urge all citizens to sign it and save CP from turning into a forgotten fragment of the glorious history of Delhi.