North and South Block
Built on Raisina Hill either side of Rajpath, North and South Block, also known as the Secretariat Buildings are among the most impressive state office buildings of the world. North Block houses the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance while South Block houses the Ministry of External Affairs.
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, the buildings are raised on a plinth about 30 feet above ground level. North and South Block along with Rashtrapati Bhavan were built at a overwhelming cost of over 17.5 million rupees. Completed in 1929, it is said that the design of this ‘two-tone’ buildings are based or similar to the Union buildings in Pretoria in South Africa.
In total the buildings consists of about 1000 rooms and have miles of long corridors and inner fountain courts. Classical in style, each block has four floors and is crowned by an imposing central baroque dome. The gateways of both the blocks are designed in a typical majestic Mughal style. The gateway of the North block has an inscription which reads as follows: ” Liberty will not descend to a people: a people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing which must be earned before it can be enjoyed”.
The other important architectural features of the buildings are the beautiful lotus motifs, elephants and Mughal chhatris or kiosks. There are four sandstone columns surmounted by a bronze ship sailing east, two in front of each blocks representing the dominions of the British empire namely Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. There are stone tablets fixed at the sandstones bases of the buildings on which the names of the architects and builders are inscribed.
The Secretariat Buildings are not only impressive and majestic from the outside but their interiors are also equally interesting. North Block contains some very well preserved paintings depicting various themes like justice, war and peace. The South Block too has paintings on different cities of the country and emblems of old kingdoms.