The developments and stages of Lutyens Delhi’s urban planning

The design process of the New Delhi was first drafted in July, 1912, to the final plan in March, 1913. The development process can be sequenced into twelve stages. Throughout the twelve stages, it has shown that the decisions from regarding the precise site to different urban characteristics did not develop linearly, but was marked by an unexpected number of turns and setbacks.


  1. The “Champs Elysees” from the Government House towards the Jama Masjid

The first initial considerations of the Delhi Town Planning Committee (includes G.S.C. Swinton, John Broadie and Edwin Lutyens) were regarding towards the site and shape of the new capital. Section of Avenue was discussed to a slightly concave form in the longitudinal direction with references to the Champs Elysees. They also introduced the theories of having the palaces of Indian Rajas lined up between Government House and a large circus, and the Viceroy’s House objected to frequent right-angle intersections with relations to normal layout of grid-pattern cantonments and civil stations in India.



  1. Lanchester’s initial layout: extension of the Indian city

The second stage introduced a cross-axial plaza with Secretariat blocks for the purpose of avoiding a too long main avenue. Archaeological Parc is suggested for preservation of large areas with historical landmark. In terms of formation of the city, they took reference of the Regent Street in London to introduce the curved street to unfold variety and gridiron pattern for Indian residential and commercial zone.



  1. Lanchester’s revised layout

Lanchester changed the road network into rectangular forms in the style of military cantonments into considerations by placing greater emphasis on circular and radial roads.



  1. Turn of the main axis

Stage four suggested that to turn the main axis of the plan 45 degree s southeast towards the ancient fortress of Indrapat.



  1. Lanchester’s second revised layout

Three avenues have been proposed (instead of one gigantic one) to radiates from the Government House, one towards Jama Masjid, second towards Indrapat, and third towards the Delhi Gate.


  1. Raisina Hill

The Raisina Hill has been described as the most beautiful site of all. The Government House is suggested to move back to Raisina Hill and turning it to face East for the purpose of dominating the entire city.


  1. Northern site’s layout A

After the controversy with Lord Hardinge, it has resulted in adopting Lanchester’s suggestion with a triangular plan with the main avenue north-west to southeast to take up elements in the earlier stages. The rhythm is also defined with the main avenue leads from Government House to Juamna River with six Secretariats and one circle.



  1. Northern site’s layout B

Layout B is introduced as a weaker alternative compare to layout A, it was possible used to emphasise the strength of layout A.


  1. Lutyens’ effort on the southern site

At stage nine, Lutyens resorted to the elements in layout A, transferring the well-conceived system of a boulevard oriented on Viceroy’s House together with the large triangle of streets added on both sides.


  1. Government House

Both Lutyens and Baker gas agreed to move the Government to the west which the view of the Jama-Masjid from the Government House would be lost­­­­ to make way for the Secretariats.


  1. Great Plaza between Raisina Hill and Jumna River

A Great Plaza remained as an uncertainty between Lutyens and Baker. They believed an Italian gigantic plaza could make a bigger impression than the four government buildings at the junction of the most important north-south boulevard. However, after careful consideration, the idea was dropped.


  1. Final layout

In the final layout, large triangular and hexagonal pattern is placed with a square in front of the Raisina Hill. Four achieves and museums are placed on the crossings of the north-south and the east-west avenues. The final proposal not only contain the town layout, but also a drainage plan and proposal for the layout of the main and subsidiary street.



After the finalization of the Lutyens Delhi urban plan, it was altered in greater depths over the years such as the positioning of the stations and other minor architectures. However, the street plan has hardly changed and due to the generous layout of the streets, despite the bizarre growth of the volume of traffic, congestion only happens during rush hours.



1 Brown, J. Lutyens and the Edwardians, London 1996.

2 Irving, R.G. Indian Summer, Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi, New Haven, London 1981.

3 Volwahsen, A. Imperial Delhi The British Capital of the Indian Empire, Prestel, London 2002.





1 Comment on “The developments and stages of Lutyens Delhi’s urban planning

  1. This is a descriptive account of the revisions. Why were the decisions made? Are they just to please the governor, or are they other players involved in the process? Delving into his first-hand writings or sketches would reveal how these decisions were made. (By the way, who is Lord Hardinge? And Lanchester? These names are not mentioned anywhere else.)

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