City Walk – The Lane to Cornwallis Colony, Central Delhi
The colonial-era way.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Most British-built neighbourhoods, avenues and streets in our fair city of Delhi have been stripped of their original English names. (Goodbye colonialism!)
Post-Independence rulers made certain that Curzon Road, for instance, gave way to Kasturba Gandhi, while Lady Willington Park became Lodhi Gardens.
But not all names were changed.
Within walking distance of Lodhi Gardens is tranquil lane going past the elegant Cornwallis Colony. Lord Charles Cornwallis was Governor General of British India best known to us for his wars with Tipu Sultan (there’s even a famous painting of him receiving Tipu’s two sons as hostages in the year 1793). He went on to establish a Sanskrit college in Benares and India’s first mint in the then Calcutta.
Cornwallis is, however, better known in the wider world for his role in the American war of Independence—on the losing side.
The lane isn’t easy to spot, tapering off from a quiet pavement running along Zakir Hussain Road in central Delhi. This afternoon the pathway is utterly quiet. Squirrels are scurrying along grassy patches, while butterflies hover about, flying up and down like a plane negotiating serious turbulence.
The lane has the feel of a glorious backyard, because it often looks out on the gardens of oft-elegant government-owned homes of Cornwallis Colony running along its length. Trees towers above the red boundary walls. The 4 pm sun is spreading its golden glow unevenly through the foliage, the light is spilling through tree leaves, scattering drops of sunshine as if somebody has spilled a pot of honey.
This pleasant walk takes only 10 minutes and then, after a long loop, merges into Subramania Bharati Marg, which in fact was originally known as Cornwallis Road.
As for Lord Cornwallis himself. He died of fever in 1809 while serving his second term as Governor General of British India. He lies buried in Ghazipur, UP, close to the sacred Ganga.
Walking with Cornwallis