A new book sheds light on the history of Chanakyapuri’s diplomatic enclave
The broad avenues of Chanakyapuri, flanked by embassies, are as integral a part of the cityscape of Delhi as the towering Qutub Minar or the regal Red Fort. But unlike these landmarks, which are steeped in history, little is known about how and why Chanakyapuri was built, with the story of its creation lost in the eventful post-Independence Indian history.
This lack of chronicling was redressed with the launch of Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt’s “Delhi’s Diplomatic Domains” at the lawns of the Indian Handicrafts Emporium, in the presence of guests from the missions of over 60 countries. Exploring the history of Delhi’s diplomatic enclave, the book is illustrated with pictures taken by Lalit Verma. It takes one on a tour through the past and present of Chanakyapuri and is replete with anecdotal vignettes.
The book was launched last week by Dr. Karan Singh, who has deep ties with Chankyapuri, having lived there for the better part of half a century. He remembered how, after Independence, India did not have a diplomatic area. Before the building of the enclave, most of the embassies were housed in hotels and requisitioned bungalows. He talked of the special interest that Jawaharlal Nehru took in setting up this zone, with every country being allotted the area they desired.