H.H. THE NIZAM’S ELEPHANT, DELHI CORONATION DURBAR 1903, RAJA DEEN DAYAL & SONS, SILVER GELATIN PRINT, 263 X 197 MM. COURTESY ALKAZI COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHY – TAASA Review September 2012
A dust-coloured sandstone obelisk stands in a dusty expanse in north Delhi, with the inscription: Here on the 12th day of December 1911 His Imperial Majesty King George V Emperor of India Accompanied by the Queen Empress In solemn Durbar Announced in person to the governors, Princes and peoples of India His coronation celebrated in England On the 22nd day of June 1911 And received from them Their dutiful homage and allegiance The Ozymandias celebrated in this inscription has not been reduced to sights’ of Delhi.
There are plans afoot for a large park, with an interpretation centre that will demystify this space.
Until that becomes a reality, Julie Codell’s book will stand as an excellent interpretation of one of Britain’s most quirky invented traditions, the "Durbar’. After the 1857 Uprising, the East India Company was ordered to hand over the government of its Indian territories to the British Crown...