What “Taj Mahal Palace” means to Bombay, that is what “The Imperial” signifies for New Delhi. Located on Queensway, now famously known as Janpath, it offers a unique experience in terms of Indian hospitality; at the same time it give us an opportunity for embracing facets of India's history as this place stood witness to the birth of the capital city. It has a unique distinction of being an art gallery and museum beside being known as one of most elegant hotels in New Delhi. Having spent last two days attending technical deliberations at the Royal Ballroom, I was constantly reminded of its spectacular glory by a large collection of paintings and artifacts which are retained even today on its walls and four corners. The life size portraits of Indian Princes, large number of paintings depicting events from Raj-period and photographs of several Indian leaders who participated in the freedom movement creates an aroma of colonial and post colonial period. The vast Royal Ballroom which was temporarily converted into the conference hall could not be disguised as its constantly shaking wooden spring floor gave us feeling of reverence for its past glory. This is probably the only authentic ballroom remaining in India, reminiscing the sumptuousness glory of the Lords and Ladies of that era, their act of bowing and curtsying as they gyrate around the majestic dance floor waltzing with their partners. This magnificent place witnessed several distinguished guests and celebrities who shared mesmerizing moments as they amuse themselves on the dancing floor since the hotel was opened for very first time during 1931. In fact, this was the same room where the first grand Ball was held in the presence of Lord Willingdon, the then Viceroy and Governor-General of British India.
In the brightly illuminated corridors we can see original photographs of great Indian leaders along with snapshots from Indian freedom struggle. I was told that this place also has great historical significance as this was the venue of famous meeting between Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten where various modalities for the Partition of India were discussed. At this place Maharajahs from various Princely States met during pre-independence period to form their response to British proposal for unification with Indian Republic. Having witnessed a large gamut of historical events, today this place has become an iconic symbol of modern Delhi alloyed with its illustrious heritage.
Now as I sit and memorize, thoughts of evanescentness engulfs my mind. Engrossing myself into those historic photographs and paintings, it appeared to me that every act of human indefatigability and perseverance, every battle fought for the supremacy and predomination, vast empires build through continents are so ephemeral and temporary in nature. Every glory is bound to became a thing of past. At the most, it shall be remembered through the object d'art taking form of pictures and artifacts. How remarkable it may be, every era has a shelf life....
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour’d it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d--
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”
The above verse which is a translation by Fitzgerald of the inspirational and very famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam compels us to think about continuity of the nature. Let us bury our ego before we our self become part of this earth!
Goodbye... for the time being.. stay blessed!!