NEW, OR IMPERIAL, DELHI

There have been seven Delhis; and it required no little courage to establish a new one - the Imperial capital - actually within sight of most of them; but the courage was forthcoming. Originally the position was to be to the north of the present city, where the Coronation Durbar spread its canvas, but Raisina was found to be healthier, and it is there, some five miles to the south-west, that the new palaces are rising from the rock. Fatehpur-Sikri is the only city with which the New Delhi can be compared; but not Akbar himself could devise it on a nobler scale. Akbar's centralising gift and Napoleon's spacious views may be said to combine here, the long avenues having kinship with the Champs Elysees, and Government House and the Secretariat on the great rocky plateau at Raisina corresponding to the palace on Fatehpur-Sikri's highest point. The splendour and the imagination which designed the lay-out of Imperial Delhi cannot be over-praised, and under the hands of Sir Edwin Lutyens and Mr. Herbert Baker some wonderful buildings are coming to life. The city, since it is several square miles in extent, cannot be finished for some years, but it may be ready to be the seat of Government as soon as 1924.

As I have said, the old Delhis are all about the new one. On the Grand Trunk road out of Delhi proper, which goes to Muttra and Agra, you pass, very quickly, on the left, the remains of Firozabad, the capital of Firoz Shah in the later thirteenth century. Two or three miles further on is Indrapat on its hill overlooking the Jumna, surrounded by lofty walls. It is as modern as the sixteenth century, but is now in ruins. At Indrapat reigned Humayun, the son of the mighty Babar (who on his conquering way to Delhi had swum every river in advance of his army) and the father of the mighty Akbar. I loitered long within Indrapat's massive walls, which are now given up to a few attendants and an occasional visitor, and like all the monuments around Delhi are most carefully conserved under the Act for that purpose, which was not the least of Lord Curzon's Viceregal achievements. Among the buildings which still stand, rising from the turf, is Humayun's library. It was here that he met his end - one tradition relating that he fell in the dark on his way to fetch a book, and another that his purpose had been less intellectually amatory.

Another mile and we come, still just beside the Grand Trunk road, to Humayun's Tomb, which stands in a vast garden where green parrots continually chatter and pursue each other. There is something very charming - a touch of the truest civilisation, if civilisation means the art of living graciously - in the practice of the old Emperors and rulers, of building their mausoleums during their lifetime and using them, until their ultimate destiny was fulfilled, as pleasure resorts. To this enchanting spot came Humayun and his ladies full of life, to be insouciant and gay. Then, his hour striking, Humayun's happy retreat became Humayun's Tomb. He died in 1556, when Queen Mary, in England, was persecuting Protestants. The Tomb is in good repair and to the stranger to the East who has not yet visited Agra and seen the Taj Mahal (which has a similar ground plan), it is as beautiful as need be. Humayun's cenotaph, in plain white marble, is in the very centre. Below, in the vault immediately beneath it, are his remains. Other illustrious dust is here, too; and some less illustrious, such as that of Humayun's barber, which reposes beneath a dome of burning-blue tiles in a corner of the garden.

From the upper galleries of the Emperor's mausoleum the eye enjoys various rich prospects - the valley of the Jumna pulsating in the heat, the walls of the New Delhi at Raisina almost visibly growing, and, to the north, Delhi itself, with the twin towers of the great mosque over all. Down the Grand Trunk road, immediately below, are bullock wagons and wayfarers, and here and there is a loaded camel. Across the road is a curious little group of sacred buildings whither some of the wayfarers no doubt are bent on a pilgrimage; for here is the shrine of the Saint Nizam-ud-din Aulia, who worked miracles during his life and died during the reign of our Edward II - in 1324.

On visiting his shrine (which involved the usual assumption of overshoes to prevent our infidel leather from contaminating the floor), we fell, after evading countless beggars and would-be guides, into the hands of a kindly old man who pressed handfuls of little white nuts upon us and who remains in my memory as the only independent Mussulman priest in India, for he refused a tip. In this respect nothing could be more widely separated than his conduct and that of the three priests of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, who, discovering us on the wall, just before the Friday service began, held up the service for several minutes while they explained their schedule of gratuities - beginning with ten rupees for the High Priest - and this after we had already provided for the attendant who had supplied the overshoes and had led us to the point of vantage! I thought how amusing it would be if a visitor to an English cathedral - where money usually has to pass, as it is - were surrounded by the Dean, Archdeacon, Canons and Minor Canons, with outstretched hands, and had to buy his way to a sight of the altar, according to the status of each. The spectacle would be as odd to us, as it must be to the French or Italians - and even perhaps Americans - to see a demand for an entrance fee on the Canterbury portals.

Were we to continue on the Grand Trunk road for a few miles, first crossing a noble Mogul bridge, we should come to a little walled city, Badapur, where a turning due west leads to another Delhi of the past, Tughlakabad, and on to yet another, the remains of Lal Kot, where the famous Minar soars to the sky.

One of the most pleasing effects of the New Delhi is the series of vistas which the lay-out provides. It has been so arranged that many of the avenues radiating from the central rock on which Government House and the Secretariat are being set are closed at their distant ends by historic buildings. Standing on the temporary tower which marks this centre one is able to see in a few moments all the ruined cities that I have mentioned. The Kutb Minar is the most important landmark in the far south, although the eye rests most lovingly on the red and white comeliness of the tomb of Safdar Jang in the middle distance - which, with Humayun's Tomb, makes a triangle with the new Government House. Within that triangle are the Lodi tombs, marking yet another period in the history of Delhi, the Lodis being the rulers who early in the fifteenth century were defeated by Babar.

The Kutb Minar enclosure, which is a large garden, where beautiful masonry, flowers, trees and birds equally flourish, commemorates the capture of Delhi by Muhammad bin Sam in 1193, the battle being directed by his lieutenant, Kutb-ud-din. From that time until the Mutiny in 1857 Delhi was under Mohammedan rule. One of the first acts of the conqueror was to destroy the Hindu temple that stood here and erect the mosque that now takes its place, and he then built the great tower known as the Kutb Minar, or Tower of Victory, which ascends in diminishing red and white storeys to a height of 235 feet, involving the inquisitive view- finder in a climb of 379 steps. On the other side of the mosque are the beginnings of a second tower, which, judging by the size of the base, was to have risen to a still greater height, but it was abandoned after 150 feet. Its purpose was to celebrate for ever the glory of the Emperor Ala-ud-din (1296-1316).

In front of the mosque is the Iron Pillar which has been the cause of so much perplexity both to antiquaries and chemists, and meat and drink to Sanscrit scholars. The pillar has an inscription commemorating an early monarch named Chandra who conquered Bengal in the fifth century, and it must have been brought to this spot for re-erection. But its refusal to rust, and the purity of its constituents, are its special merits. To me the mysteries of iron pillars are without interest, and what I chiefly remember of this remarkable pleasaunce is the exquisite stone carvings of the ruined cloisters and the green parrots that play among the trees.