Located on the main ring road near the Civil Lines Metro Station of Delhi, stands a magnificent building in a 10 acre land of beautifully manicured gardens. This is the seat of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
Designed by E. Montague Thomas in 1912, this splendid edifice has stood the test of time in showing forth its unique blend of British architecture and traditional Indian features. Its long front and two lateral structures beckon as if with open arms a connoisseur of architectural style or a simple admirer of beauty, alike.
Splendor apart, this century old edifice boasts of a rich history.
To begin with, when the British Raj shifted its capital from Kolkata to Delhi, it became the hub of activities as the Government Secretariat. Its historical importance was sealed when the place became the venue of the first Legislative Council of the central Government on 27th Jan 1913. This momentous occasion laid the foundation of independent India’s Parliamentary System. The Council met here for discussions, meetings and debates that contributed to the formation of Indian Constitution. It passed important legislations covering all aspects of budget, tariff, working of Railways and reforms. Distinguished parliamentarians debated on matters of liberty and freedom.
In the pre independent era, great leaders of future India gathered here to listen and to subscribe to the view of an Independent India and its Constitution. Gandhiji attended one such debate. Thus, Old Secretariat is a memorial to the great contribution of Indian Leaders to India’s Freedom Movement.
Later, when the Legislative Assembly was formed, it used to meet in the Chamber at Old Secretariat. The Central Legislature passed very important legislations relating to constitutional reforms; resolutions condemning the repressive laws were adopted; Standing Committees were formed and Standing orders were framed.
The corridors of the Secretariat resounded with some of the finest speeches made by Indian Leaders who were Members of the Assembly.
A tradition for future Parliamentary procedures was laid when the Speaker of the Legislature put forward his rulings and judgments. Important national and international issues were discussed and debated and Members were allowed to have full expression of their views. The privileges of Members of the Legislature were recognized and new precedents and conventions were established. .
The Old Secretariat assumed cultural significance when the first convocation of Delhi University was held in this building on 26th March 1923. In the post independent days it remained as a centre for cultural and academic activities.
In the year 1952 when Delhi got its own Assembly, the Old Secretariat became its venue. When the assembly was dissolved, it evolved as the centre for deliberations of the Metropolitan Council. Finally, in 1993, when Delhi again won an assembly, it became the seat of the Delhi Vidhan Sabha
That is what the Old Secretariat is today: awe inspiring both by its magnificence and its past and present glory.
This spot of beauty is accessible from Indira Gandhi International Airport, Old Delhi Railway Station, Civil Lines Metro Station and local buses from various points.
The building which is closed to public, can be viewed from outside; however, entry will be granted on special permission. For security reasons, photography is not allowed.
There are some other places of interest such as Qudsia Bagh, Kashmiri Gate and Flagstaff Tower in the vicinity of the Old Secretariat; hence a trip to the area will be a fulfilling experience.