Remember any structure as one moves towards the zoo towards Pragati Maidan. One remembers the Purana Qila, and then the honey combed structures within the Pragati Maidan. The structures an integral part of the exhibition area usually evokes memories of innumerable exhibitions held there. The best of all the exhibition, the India International Trade Fair. For most, it visually reiterates that Pragati Maidan has been reached.
The space within the hall of nations is stupendous and can accommodate almost anything. Probably since this was designed to be a general exhibition ground without any specifics, the area was thus designated. The architect, the well acclaimed Raj Rewal.
Their website - www.rajrewal.in describes the structure thus, “ Building Type – Exhibition, Year – 1972, “ The Permanent Exhibition Complex is designed to form the focus of 130 acres of Exhibition ground designed by Raj Rewal in New Delhi. The design was evolved to meet the constraints of time, availability of materials and labour but to above all to reflect symbolically and technologically, India’s intermediate technology in the 25th year of its independence. The depth of the structural system was utilized as a Sun breaker and conceived of in terms of the traditional 'jali', a geometrical pattern of perforation that serves to obstruct directs rays of the harsh Sun while permitting air circulation. The main pavilion of the Hall of Nations has a clear span of 78 metres and a height. varying from three metres to 21 metres, thereby providing a vast capacity for items to be exhibited, from books to bulldozers.”
The Halls of Industries and Nehru Pavillion add to the design impact.
This defines the ethos of the building. For me, like countless others, the site of the building is the sense of an exhibition ground where one got to see some extremely interesting and new things. It was a place where I was carted by my parents during the weekends to see the exhibitions. Earlier, it lasted a good month and was extended on popular demand. Unlike, now there were no traffic jams. It was a nice big place with plenty of trees. Evenings were beautiful with lights, music almost like a fairyland. The banners on the trees, the balloons all added to a child’s wonder. The same wonder relives when I make an annual pilgrimage to the IITF now of course during the business hours on the business days. The excitement and enthusiasm still remains. How else can I describe the countless new crafts, textiles, food that I have discovered there.
At the time the Hall of Nations was built, it was a symbol of the growing India, the modern Delhi and India. The Hall of Nation was a symbol put on postage stamps and it was glorified. The ITPO or Indian Trade Promotion Organisation has been wanting to demolish this and build a glitzy more modern exhibition centre. There have been appeals to save the structure. What will be the fate? The future will decide. For now, enjoy the building capture it and feel the pulse of what Delhi once was.