The Full Wiki

Delhi Durbar: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Delhi Durbar, meaning, "Court of Delhimarker", was a mass assembly at Coronation Park, Delhimarker, Indiamarker, to commemorate the coronation of a King and Queen of the United Kingdom. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times in 1877, 1903, and 1911 at the height of the British Empire. The 1911 Durbar was the only one to be attended by the sovereign, in that particular case George V. The term was derived from common Mughal term, Durbar.

Durbar of 1877

Called the "Proclamation Durbar", the Durbar of 1877 was held beginning on 1 January 1877 to commemorate the coronation and proclaim Queen Victoria as Empress of India. The 1877 Durbar was largely an official event and not a popular occasion with mass appeal like 1903 and 1911. It was attended by the 1st Earl of Lytton - Viceroy of India, maharajas, nawabs and intellectuals. This was the culmination of transfer of control of much of India from the British East India Company to the Government of Great Britainmarker.

The Durbar was the beginning of a great transformation for India where the campaign for a free India was formally launched.

Inside Victoria Memorialmarker in Kolkatamarker is an inscription taken from the Message of Queen Victoria presented at the 1877 Durbar to the people of India:

"We trust that the present occasion may tend to unite in bonds of close affection

ourselves and our subjects;

that from the highest to the humbles, all may feel that under our rule

the great principles of liberty, equity, and justice are secured to them;

and to promote their happiness, to add to their prosperity, and advance their welfare,

are the ever present aims and objects of our Empire.

A medal to commemorate the Proclamation of the Queen as Empress of India was struck and distributed to honored guests.

Ramanath Tagore was made a Maharaja by Lord Lytton, viceroy of India.

It was at this glittering durbar that a man in "homespun spotless white khadi" rose to read a citation on behalf of the Pune Sarvajanik Sabha. Ganesh Vasudeo Joshi put forth a demand couched in very polite language:

"We beg of Her Majesty to grant to India the same political and social status as is enjoyed by her British subjects."

With this demand, it can be said that the campaign for a free India was formally launched.

Durbar of 1903

A View of the Durbar Procession of 1903

Held to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Emperor and Empress of India.

The two full weeks of festivities were devised in meticulous detail by Lord Curzon. It was a dazzling display of pomp, power and split second timing worthy of P. T. Barnum . Neither the earlier Delhi Durbar of 1877, nor the later Durbar held there in 1911, could match the pagentry of Lord Curzon’s 1903 festivities. In a few short months at the end of 1902, a deserted plain was transformed into an elaborate tented city, complete with temporary light railway to bring crowds of spectators out from Delhi, a post office with its own stamp, telephone and telegraphic facilities, a variety of stores, a Police force with specially designed uniform, hospital, magistrate’s court and complex sanitation, drainage and electric light installations. Souvenir guide books were sold and maps of the camping ground distributed. Marketing opportunities were craftily exploited. Special medals were struck, firework displays, exhibitions and glamorous dances held.

Edward VII, to Curzon’s disappointment, did not attend but sent his brother, the Duke of Connaught who arrived with a mass of dignitaries by train from Bombay just as Curzon and his government came in the other direction from Calcutta. The assembly awaiting them displayed possibly the greatest collection of jewels to be seen in one place. Each of the Indian princes was adorned with the most spectacular of his gems from the collections of centuries. Maharajahs came with great retinues from all over India, many of them meeting for the first time while the massed ranks of the Indian armies, under their Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener, paraded, played their bands and restrained the crowds of common people.

On the first day, the Curzons entered the area of festivities, together with the maharajahs, riding on elephants, some with huge gold candelabras stuck on their tusks. The durbar ceremony itself fell on New Year's day and was followed by days of polo and other sports, dinners, balls, military reviews, bands, and exhibitions. The world’s press despatched their best journalists, artists and photographers to cover proceedings. The popularity of movie footage of the event, shown in makeshift cinemas throughout India, is often credited with having launched the country’s early film industry.

The Aga Khan III used this occasion to speak out for the expansion of all types of educational facilities in India.

The event culminated in a grand coronation ball attended only by the highest ranking guests, all reigned over by Lord Curzon and more so by the stunning Lady Curzon in her glittering jewels and regal peacock gown.

Durbar of 1911

Held in December to commemorate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India. Practically every ruling prince, nobleman, landed gentry and other persons of note in India attended to pay obeisance to their sovereigns. The Sovereigns appeared in their Coronation robes, the King-Emperor wearing the Imperial Crown of India with eight arches, containing six thousand one hundred and seventy exquisitely cut diamonds, and covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, with a velvet and miniver cap all weighing 34.05 ounces (965 g). They then appeared at a darshan (a sight) at the jharoka (balcony window) of Red Fortmarker, to receive half a million or more of the common people who had come to greet them. A feature film of the coronation titled With Our King and Queen Through India (1912) -- also known as The Durbar in Delhi -- was filmed in the early color process Kinemacolor and released on 2 February 1912.

A Delhi Herald of Arms Extraordinary, and an Assistant Herald (Brigadier-General William Peyton and Captain the Hon. Malik Mohammed Umar Hayat Khan) were appointed for the 1911 Durbar, but their duties were more ceremonial than heraldic.

There is a magnificent tiara belonging to the present Queen called the Delhi Durbar Tiara. The necklace was presented to Queen Mary by the Maharanee of Patiala on behalf of the Ladies of India to mark the first visit to India by a British Queen-Empress. At the Queen’s suggestion, it was designed to match her other emerald jewellery created for the Delhi Durbar. In 1912 Garrards slightly altered the necklace, making the existing emerald pendant detachable and adding a second detachable diamond pendant. This is an marquise diamond known as Cullinan VII, one of the nine numbered stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. The necklace was inherited by the Queen in 1953 and was recently worn by the Duchess of Cornwall to a ball where she met the Norwegian Royal Family.

26,800 Delhi Durbar Silver Medals of 1911 were awarded mostly to men and officers of the British regiments. A small number were also struck in gold for award to Indian princely rulers and the highest ranking government officers.

Today Coronation Parkmarker is a jealously guarded open space whose emptiness comes as a bit of a shock after the dense traffic and crowded shanty towns of northern Delhi’s urban sprawl. It is mostly overgrown, neglected and locked. The Park is sometimes used for big religious festivals and municipal conventions.

No further Durbar

While Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 before he had had any coronation, it was initially envisaged that his successor George VI would ultimately visit India and have his own Durbar. The Indian National Congress passed a motion weeks after his accession calling for a boycott of any such visit, and in February 1937 Communist MP Willie Gallacher decried expenditure on such festivities in a country of such poverty. The King's Speech of October 1937 included "I am looking forward with interest and pleasure to the time when it will be possible for Me to visit My Indian Empire", to the satisfaction of Sir Hugh O'Neill. However, the onset of World War II and the movement towards Indian independence meant this visit never happened.


  1. KESAVAN MUKUL (Sunday, May 29, 2005) "STORY OF THE CONGRESS - Three pivotal moments that shaped early nationalism in India", The Telegraph, Calcutta, retrieved 3/19/2007 nationalism
  2. The Illustrated London News Jan, 20 - Feb. 17, (1877) retrieved 3/18/2007 medal
  3. Cotton, H.E.A., Calcutta Old and New, 1909/1980, p596, General Printers and Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  4. The Delhi Durbar,, magazine of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, free india
  5. De Courcy Anne (2003) "The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters", Harper Collins, 464 pages, ISBN 0-06-093557-X, 61 page Abstract(biography) retrieved from Google 3/14/2007
  6. Holmes Richard, "Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914". HARPERCOLLINS. 571 pages.
  7. Bottomore Stephen (Oct, 1995) "An amazing quarter mile of moving gold, gems and genealogy": filming India's 1902/03 Delhi Durbar, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, includes extensive bibliography of the event, retrieved 3/18/2007 filming the Durbar
  8. Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan (Dec. 4, 1911) Speeches of Aga Khan III, Inaugural Speech at the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference, Delhi (Full text) retrieved 3/18/2007 Aga Khan speech
  9. Cory, Charlotte (2002) Sunday Times, December 29th, retrieved 3/14/2007 "The Delhi Durbar 1903 Revisited", 1903 Durbar, extensive description
  10. The Royal Ark, Royal and Ruling Houses of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas royal jewels
  11. Filming the Delhi Durbar 1911 filming
  12. Cox, Noel, A New Zealand Heraldic Authority? in John Campbell-Kease (ed), Tribute to an Armorist: Essays for John Brooke-Little to mark the Golden Jubilee of The Coat of Arms, London, The Heraldry Society, 2000, p. 93 & p. 101: "Two heralds, with ceremonial rather than heraldic responsibilities, were appointed for the Delhi Durbar in 1911... Delhi Herald (Brigadier-General William Eliot Peyton) and Assistant Delhi Herald (Captain the Honourable Malik Mohammed Umar Haiyat Khan)."
  13. The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, RCIN 200134 royal jewels
  14. Delhi Durbar Medals of 1911 1911 medal
  15. Mukherjee Sanjeeb (Oct. 2001) CORONATION PARK - the Raj junkyard,, retrieved 3/18/2007 Coronation Park

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address