Once Lutyens (1869-1944) won the contract for designing the new capital, Sir Thomas Holderness, the permanent secretary at the India office, persuaded him to share the commission with Baker (1862-1946). Lutyens was more than happy to bring on board an old architect friend. They had first met each other at the office of Ernest George and Peto in London where Lutyens worked as an apprentice and Baker as a draughtsman. The two had gradually become friends and kept in touch through letters even when they moved to different professional locations.


The difference in their respective architectural perceptions manifested in the buildings they designed individually. Baker’s twin secretariat buildings combine European-style columns and Renaissance-like dome with Indian architectural elements like the use of red sandstone, jalis (perforated screens), chajja (eaves), chhatris (canopies) carved brackets as well as elephant-heads on pillar capitals. ... One place where their differing perspectives took an ugly turn was the location of the secretariat buildings vis-à-vis the Government House. By the time Baker had arrived, several key decisions regarding the new capital had already been taken – the focus of the plan was to be Viceroy’s House on its citadel at Raisina Hill. The hill was seen as an Indian acropolis with Viceroys’s House as the Parthenon. Baker agreed with the idea of an acropolis capital which was congruent with his classical sentiments.

However, he insisted on one major alteration, namely that the secretariats be moved up on to the acropolis with the Viceroy’s House. It should form ‘one high platform expressing the importance of the unity of the viceroy with his government’, he said.

What implications would this have for the overall layout of the capital? First, it meant that the Viceroy’s House had to be pushed further back and away from the top of the Raisina Hill. Lutyens agreed though it entailed additional costs in clearing and flattening a larger area to accommodate the twin buildings. Second, the gradient leading up to the hill had to be gentle to give a harmonious and balanced effect to the altered architectural scheme.

However, Baker, who oversaw the construction of the slope, allowed for too steep a gradient. This created a situation which Lutyens later described as his ‘Bakerloo’. As one looks at the Raisina Hill buildings from Vijay Chowk, the Viceroy’s House disappears and only its dome is visible. Lutyens had always wanted it to stand on top of the hill so that it could dominate an otherwise flat landscape. However, Baker’s twin buildings, originally meant to stand at a slightly lower level, got in the way.