A painting of the coronation procession of 1911 on display at The Imperial in Janpath
In many ways The Imperial at Janpath has borne witness to the evolution of Delhi. It’s no wonder then that the ‘museum hotel’ houses one of the most significant collections of colonial and post-colonial art and artefacts. The Delhi Durbar, held on December 12, 1911, being one of the most important chapters in the city’s colonial history, the hotel has a restaurant (‘1911’) named after it. The lobbies here are teeming with art that commemorates the coronation of King Edward V and the ascension of Delhi as capital, including an interesting scroll sent by the then Calcutta administration as a worried response to the rising significance being attached to Delhi. This gigantic oil-on-canvas painting (by Cavalry & Sons, 1912) shows Viceroy & Vicereine Harding leading the procession on elephants on Coronation Day. They are followed by King George V and Queen Mary and the rulers of Indian princely states. Few might know or even speculate that the royal chairs (quasi-thrones) sitting openly in a room adjacent to this painting are the actual seats used by the King and Queen during the coronation. They’re not as intimidating as the Iron Throne of Westeros but, by all means, have a seat.